Wednesday Practice Report

The last day of the heavy lifting - full pads - for the Ole Miss Rebels, preparing for Saturday's SEC tilt with Arkansas in Oxford, was Wednesday. Read about it inside.

Each week, the routine is the same.

Sunday, the Rebels watch film of the Saturday game and then go through a light practice to correct the mistakes.

Monday, it's a day to concentrate on academics and get some needed rest.

Tuesday and Wednesday, heavy lifting, meaning full pads and contact work as the gameplan for the next game is being installed.

The Rebels completed the heavy lifting phase of their preparations for the SEC game with Arkansas Saturday with a spirited workout Wednesday on the practice fields.

"We had another energetic practice today," said Rebel Coach Houston Nutt. "I love our intensity and focus. I am seeing the shot of confidence we got from the UAB game carry over into practice and we needed it, especially offensively. Hopefully we are going to take off because of that."

Rebel Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is impressed with Arkansas' offense.

"They are very explosive and (Ryan) Mallett is the best quarterback we have seen in the passing game. Their personnel this year is better than what they had last year, in my opinion. They are averaging nearly 500 yards a game and they are getting a lot of it in the air," said Nix. "They have very good players. Mallett is very impressive. Against Georgia, his game looked like a highlight reel and he wasn't too shabby against Florida, who has one of the top defenses in our league. He does not seem to get rattled under pressure. He's very poised. Every week, he has gotten better."

Despite that, Nix is just like every other D-coordinator in the country - the first priority will be to stop the Hog running game.

"No doubt. We won't change that. We will do what we do," Nix noted. "But we are going to have to get a great rush on Mallett.

"His strength is his arm. We just played one (Joe Webb) whose strength was his mobility. This guy is different. He's not as mobile, but he seems to avoid the rush long enough to throw a lot of big passes down the field. We are still going to have to be disciplined in our rush lanes."

Nix will counter with a defensive line that has been quite productive, starting with DE Kentrell Lockett.

"Kentrell has matured a lot, mentally and physically this year," Nix noted. "He's become more consistent and he's become a leader. Kentrell is free-spirited, but leadership starts with your play. Players respect the guys who make plays and have the right work ethic. Kids accept personality, but they respect what you bring to the field every day.

"I'm also pleased Greg Hardy has been out there on the practice field more. His attitude has gotten better and better. Hopefully we can get more snaps out of him this week."

DT Jerrell Powe says the Hog OL does two things the Rebel DL haven't seen much.

"They cut a lot along the line of scrimmage, but they also man up a lot, which we feel is to our advantage. We are used to slide protections whereas theirs is more one on one," Powe noted. "They are dirty, but if we are fundamentally sound, we can get to Mallett.

"Their OL personnel stays on you and you have to watch for a high hat dropping because that's a cut block. We'll be prepared."

From what Powe has seen on film, Mallett has been able to take the heat of a heavy pass rush.

"He stays poised and has a cannon, but he doesn't move around a lot, so hopefully that will work to our advantage," he explained.

Random Notes:

* PK Justin Sparks, the regular holder for placements, is back at practice, as was reported Tuesday, after missing a couple of weeks with a knee injury. He's not 100% healthy, but he's able to hold for PK Josh Shene's kick attempts with a minor adjustment. Before the injury to his right knee, Justin would hold with his right knee down and his left leg "up." Due to the injury and less range of motion, he is now holding with his right leg up and his left knee down. He said it feels "strange" but it should not be a big deal because the hold is more about catching the ball and making sure to get the spot right. He's comfortable with his new "stance."

* Who are the best deep snappers in the country? The ones where you never hear their names called unless they are making a downfield tackle. Ole Miss' Preston Powers never gets a mention because he does his job effectively without fail. A deep snapper can often be taken for granted, but that's a mistake. It's a very important duty with little room for error and it's a skill perfected through years of high reps. Preston deserves some recognition and acknowledgment for the excellent job he does on deep snaps.

* PK Josh Shene is a senior who will graduate in December, but don't look for him to leave Oxford yet unless the NFL comes calling. Josh wants to get his Master's in Exercise Science and then become a chiropractor.

* Wednesday is a heavy special teams day. It was interesting to note that Marshay Green, who missed the UAB game with a cracked rib and lacerated kidney, was fielding most of the punts in Wednesday's workout. Meaning: the coaches must feel comfortable he will be ready to play against the Razorbacks. Marshay is also lining up with the first defense at CB.

* TE Gerald Harris is 100% for "the first time this year." Finally. . . .

* FB Andy Hartmann is still playing wtih a little pain from a bone bruise in his knee, but he says otherwise he is 100% and should be all go for the Arkansas game.

* MLB D.T. Shackelford isn't 100% yet, but he said he is "real close" and anxious to play extensively against the Hogs.

* As was reported Tuesday, Jerrell Powe has moved ahead of Ted Laurent at the NT slot after Teddy earned the last two starts. The way DL Coach Terry Price rotates his DL, and all of his top eight get a lot of snaps, that doesn't matter a whole lot, but it is somewhat a source of pride to the players.

* TE E.J. Epperson continues to work some drills with the fullbacks Wednesday as an insurance policy to Hartmann's health.

* As was the case Tuesday, Brandon Green is still holding down the number one right guard slot in place of Rishaw Johnson, who is suspended for the game with Arkansas.

* TB Enrique Davis is also back at practice and is expected to play this weekend. Enrique missed the UAB game due to a high ankle sprain.


OM Spirit Top Stories