Wednesday Practice Report

The Rebels practiced in full pads Wednesday on the practice fields, without senior defensive end Greg Hardy, whose season may be over. Read about it inside.

Senior Ole Miss Defensive End Greg Hardy is reportedly having wrist surgery Thursday in Jackson, MS.

Hardy, who has been riddled with injury all year, is likely to miss the rest of the season, according to Rebel Coach Houston Nutt.

"He cracked his left wrist and tried to play through it last week," said Nutt. "He's going to Jackson tomorrow to get surgery. He needs a pin in his left wrist for a cracked bone. He's had some awfully bad luck. We think he's done for the year."

Nutt does not think Hardy's absence will affect the Rebel pass rush substantially.

"We've really been doing it mostly without him anyway because he's been hobbled all year. He's tried to give us all he can, but he has not been able to produce as much as he had hoped or we had hoped," noted Nutt. "When he is healthy, he can be very disruptive. The bad part is that we never had him healthy in our two years here for a long period of time."

Despite the bad news about Hardy, Nutt was upbeat about Wednesday's full-pad workout.

"We had another good practice today and we need it," said Nutt. "The guys moved well and are getting themselves ready for a tough game. Tennessee's offense over the last four weeks has done a good job of taking care of the ball, being physical, running the ball well and having their QB take care of the ball. We have to do an excellent job of stopping the run, but we have to be aware of their big-play capabilities. They get rid of the ball quickly so their QB is hard to sack.

"Their defense is strong and quick, especially up front. They have put it all together. We will have to do a good job Saturday on first and second downs to stay out of third-and-long situations and give us a better chance of moving the chains."

Random Notes:

* Redshirt freshman DE/MLB Jason Jones recently popped up at practice for the first time since tearing his ACL earlier this year. Jason is not doing any running yet, but he is going through strenuous physical therapy on his knee and says he has made "remarkable" progress. "It's much better than I thought it would be at this point of rehab," said Jones. If you recall, Jones started August practice as the number two MLB, but was rapidly beaten out by true frosh D.T. Shackelford. Jones was then moved to defensive end, a position the coaches felt he may be better suited for, but early in the switch, he popped the ACL of his right knee.

* Freshman Safety Frank Crawford, who is redshirting this year, missed practice Wednesday due to having his wisdom teeth removed. He hopes to be back Thursday or Friday.

* With Hardy likely out, redshirt freshman Gerald Rivers will have to take up the slack in the four-man DE rotation. . . or will he? . . . will the coaches go with a three-man rotation of Marcus Tillman, Kentrell Lockett and Emmanuel Stephens or will Rivers be included in the mix? "Gerald will be ready, but I'm not sure if we will use a full four-man rotation or not. We'll see," said Nutt. "We know he'll get some snaps, but how many we have not determined."

* Backup Safety Fon Ingram was at practice briefly, but he was not dressed out. His knee is still swollen. It looks doubtful for him to be ready for the game against UT Saturday. If that is the case, Derrick Herman is the next in line followed by Jared Mitchell. "I do not want to take the redshirt off Crawford right now if I don't have to," noted Nutt.

* Backup OG A.J. Hawkins dislocated his toe last Tuesday and is still out as of Wednesday. "He tried to go yesterday, but he can't push off that foot. The toe hurts too much," said Nutt. "If we lost a guard, we would have to move John Jerry inside and start Bobby Massie. We have worked with that some this week."

* OL Coach Mike Markuson was asked, among other things, to give an evaluation of Bobby Massie's first start of his career at Ole Miss last weekend against NAU. "The thing we saw is that he did things uncharacteristic of a freshman, simply finding work - finding someone to block, when there wasn't someone right in front of him," said Markuson. "He worked up to the next level as well, which takes some kids a while to get the hang of. He was having fun and playing fast, which is what we like to see. I'm really excited about him. He had a lot of finishes and did very well. Bobby is going to be a factor now, we think. John Jerry may be a swing guy for us now and move inside to get Bobby more reps at tackle next to him. We're working on those things. We'll see.". . . And what about Tennessee's defensive front? "They are well coached. Coach O does a good job with those guys. They play exceptionally hard, they chase the ball, they slant, they move and they play with a lot of tenacity," said Markuson. "They have one really good inside guy and their ends are very active. They aren't big guys but they are fast-twitch guys. If you pass set them wrong, they can get out of a block very fast. We have our work cut out for us."

* Apparently, TB/WR Dexter McCluster needed last weekend off. "I haven't felt this fresh since the start of the season," said Dexter, smiling. "I feel quicker and faster and I'm not bruised up. I'm excited. We have a big challenge in front of us. UT's D-line is playing very well and their first priority is to stop the run. Our guys up front will have their hands full, but we have faith they will stick with their blocks and give us holes to run through. Our whole goal is to do well on first and second downs to stay out of third-and-longs. If we can do that, we will move the chains and put some points up."


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