Practice time is precious with the 20-hour rule in college football.
Every moment has to be utilized and maximized.
Consequently, a coach cannot spend enough time preparing his team if the main players on offense and the main players on defense are constantly going against each other.
They each have to work on their "thing" and do it against what that week's opposition is going to try to do against them.
As a result, a team's scout units are critical.
And according to Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt, the Rebel scout team deserves kudos for giving the offense and defense good Arkansas looks this week.
"We had some good intense practices this week. Our concentration was good all week," said Nutt. "The thing that impressed me very much this week was the effort of our scout team.
"They have done a very good job. You look at guys like Charles Sawyer, Raymond Cotton, Emmanuel McCray, Michael Brown, Terrell Grant, Ja'Mes Logan and so on down the line and you have to tip your hat to their efforts."
The scout teamers' work serves two purposes, as Nutt explains.
"They have taken their jobs personally. One, to be better football players and, two, to help their teammates get better," Nutt stated. "It really helps us get ready for a Ryan Mallett and the receivers Arkansas has when our scout team who is simulating them is made up of guys like Cotton, Grant, Logan and Melvin Harris.
"When you can get that kind of look during the week, the game is not a surprise. They give us a very good picture of what we will face on Saturday and that helps everyone."
Nutt said PK/Holder Justin Sparks, who has missed a couple of games due to a kneecap injury, will hold this weekend, and he also had some other good news.
"We will start out with Justin and see how he holds up," Houston said. "Also, Marshay Green has been cleared to play and we are excited about that."
Houston knows the importance of the upcoming game.
"This is a critical point in the schedule when you have to build some momentum," he stated. "We have confidence from last week, but now we have to carry that over to an SEC game and for the rest of the year. You want to build each week."
Nutt was asked, for only the second time all week, if there was any special significance in facing Arkansas.
"Last year was really hard and different, but now it's just the next game on the schedule," he said briefly.
He said his focus is on one thing and one thing only - finding a way to win.
"When you are trying to figure out ways to stop Mallett and those receivers and a good running game, and you are trying to figure out a way to score points against a very improved defense, that's all that's on your mind," Nutt stated. "You can tell they have gotten better. We know we have our work cut out for us and we are preparing accordingly."
* When Nutt says Marshay is ready to go, we are assuming, from his statement and from watching practice, Green will also return punts. He's been the main one fielding punts all week, so look for him to do it in the game.
* Not that it matters, but some find these types of tidbits interesting, QB Jevan Snead and CB Cassius Vaughn are sporting fresh mohawk haircuts for the Arkansas game. Does that matter? Probably not much, but if it makes them feel more tuned in, more power to them.
* We are often asked about the progress of Cotton. Nutt gave you some clues about his progress with his praise of Raymond's work on the scout team. Our caveat: Watching Raymond in passing drills is like watching Snead and Nathan Stanley. They have different deliveries, but all three have powerful arms, get the ball out quickly and they are accurate passers. Cotton has a shorter release that is quick and a powerful motion. The early look? Excellent.
* DT Justin Smith, two weeks removed from returning to practice after breaking his foot early in the year, continues his comeback and is getting conditional passing grades from DL Coach Terry Price. "He's rusty, but I'm starting to see that same spark I saw in him before his injury," said Price. "If he stays on this path, he's going to help us, maybe a lot, before the season is over. I'm definitely glad to have him back."
* WR/KOR Jesse Grandy has kind of stolen the spotlight of the speedster true freshmen from TB/WR Korvic Neat, but don't forget about Neat, who is redshirting. He's packed on 15 good pounds, he's gained "a lot" of strength and he said he feels "faster than ever."
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