The Ole Miss Rebels wrapped up their full-speed practices for the week in preparing for the game at Auburn Saturday morning with an hour-and-a-half workout in shorts and helmets in the stadium Thursday afternoon.
"We had a really good week and a really good Thursday. I was impressed with the concentration level this whole week," said Coach Houston Nutt. "We had a lot to cover this week with all the things Auburn does offensively - the tricks, the motions, the different sets - but it's been good."
From the offensive standpoint, one of Nutt's chief concerns is combating Auburn standout DE Antonio Coleman.
"He's very strong and very experienced. He's also fast and quick. Antonio can rip and dip and make you look silly," Nutt noted. "He's a guy you better have really good technique with. We have to do a good job with him.
"I think we are more prepared to deal with him than we were earlier in the year Norwood at South Carolina because our guys have gained some experience, some confidence and some chemistry, but Coleman is a great one."
Nutt was happy about his team's performance, but was also pleased to have sophomore Right Guard Rishaw Johnson back in the fold. Rishaw had missed a couple of days of practice due to suspension/demotion issues.
"We had a meeting today. I won't give you everything that was said - some of it is private between me and him, but I understand a little bit about where he comes from and some of the issues he's dealing with," Nutt noted. "I also understand it's tough to be benched after being a starter. He got very discouraged.
"The bottom line is that he wants to be a part of this family and we want him to as well. We are going to give him every chance to be a part of us, but he has to follow our directions and our rules. He's never been belligerent or disrespectful, he's just been very discouraged and we have to help him."
Houston said he told Rishaw that a move by him right now would not be beneficial to his career.
"Just by pure numbers, he's in the lineup next year almost by default. He needs to be here, for us and for him, in the worst way," Houston added.
Nutt's keys for the contest with Auburn are simple and typical in what is anticipated to be a physical SEC matchup.
"We have to take care of the ball. We have to be able to run it and we have to be able to stop the run," Nutt noted. "It really boils down to that in these kinds of games. We expect a hard-nosed, physical game."
* Freshman RB Tim Simon, who tore his knee up in the South Carolina game, has been spending a lot of time in the training room trying to rehab the knee that was repaired several weeks ago. He's finally gotten the smile back on his face after dealing with the shock of his injury. Tim has a long way to go to complete recovery, but he believes he's finally on the way and is starting to make dents in that tedious, time-consuming process.
* DTs Jerrell Powe and Ted Laurent have played musical chairs with the number on slot for the past few weeks. Powe started against Arkansas and has maintained the top spot for the Auburn game.
* Nobody on the team, it seems, has more energy than true freshman Cornerback Charles Sawyer, who is redshirting this year. He's normally the first player on the field for practice and the last to leave. Charles always gets in extra work trying to hone his craft. The strength coaches say he also spends extra time in the weight room in an effort to get bigger and stronger. Charles reported to Ole Miss at 172 pounds. He is already at 181 with an ultimate goal of "185-190." He will get there with his work ethic.
* Speaking of extra energy, freshman Wide Receiver Pat Patterson was lining up for stretch Thursday and, out of the blue, he decided to do a standing back flip. Nailed it. Youth is a wonderful thing. So is athletic ability.
Thursday Practice Report -
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