Tuesday Practice Report

The temperatures dropped into the high 40's in Oxford Tuesday afternoon. Coupled with Monday's rain that left the practice fields too wet to use, the Rebs hit the stadium field for half their Tuesday workout and the IPF for the last half. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt doesn't believe in too much full contact this late in the football season - just enough to keep his troops contact sharp.

Tuesday's are usually the most physical practices of game weeks, but this week, with the LSU game looming, Nutt worked the Rebels out in shoulder pads and helmets today, limiting all contact work to inside thud contact.

"We started out in the stadium today and got some good work done, then the offense came in and the defense stayed out because both units wanted a full field to practice on," said Nutt. "We had a good practice today. We usually go in full pads on Tuesdays, but we didn't feel it was necessary today. We got in some good thud work to keep them crisp and keep them fresh."

The Ole Miss defensive line has been a strength of the Rebels all year. Nutt likes having that foundation for his team.

"With the depth we have, and being able to put eight or nine in the game with confidence, this is an outstanding group - exceptional. I've never had that much depth before up front on defense and those guys play hard, really hard," he explained.

DT Jerrell Powe has come on strong in the last half of the season, something not lost on Nutt.

"Jerrell is really coming. He's starting to make more big plays and he's been very disruptive lately, and consistent," noted Houston.

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix said the Rebels will be facing an offense "loaded with talent."

"They have one of the top recruiting classes every single year," said Nix. "They are loaded with talent and they have players just stacked up waiting on their turn to get the football."

Nix has a lot of respect for LSU QB Jordan Jefferson as well.

"We will prepare for him to play against us even though he missed last week," Tyrone said. "He's smart enough to pull the ball down when nobody is open and he can run with the ball. I think he's a good quarterback.

"But whether he plays or not, they don't change anything. They will run the same offense regardless of who is at quarterback."

Like Nutt, Nix is quickly also becoming a fan of Powe.

"He's been making some big plays lately. That one he made against Tennessee last game to put them in a third-and-long instead of a third-and-short-goal was huge," he smiled. "He's getting closer and closer and heading in the right direction.

"His weight, his commitment and his endurance are so much better. He takes care of his body now and does the little things that allow him to be a better football player. He plays defense with passion, like all our guys."

The Rebel defense will have to prepare for the option, a Wildcat formation with Russell Shepard, some spread and some pro-style looks.

"We have a lot to prepare for, but our kids should be familiar with all of it," Nix noted. "We'll prepare them for all of it."

Random Notes:

* Backup Safety Fon Ingram did not play against Tennessee last Saturday due to a flaring up of a knee injury he's been dealing with all year. He dressed for practice on Tuesday and went through most drills. His intention is to play against the Tigers this weekend. Ingram is going to try to play through the pain and finish out the season, but we've been told he will require some surgery in the offseason to repair the damage. If so, he is expected to be back prior to spring training. We'll keep you posted on how much he is able to practice this week. "Fon is much better. We expect him to play Saturday," Nutt stated.

* OLB Patrick Trahan came out to practice on crutches Tuesday, but insists he will be able to play against the Tigers. Reportedly, he was "fine" this morning, but the mysterious ailment that struck him last Friday flared up again Tuesday afternoon prior to practice. Gout, we have been told, has been ruled out, but his condition seems to have some of the same symptoms, thus the mystery. All involved feel he'll be able to play against LSU. Freshman Joel Kight practiced with the first team defense in his place. "This has been a very odd injury. We feel like we will have him Saturday, but some days he can go and some days he can't put any weight on it," Nutt noted. "It's frustrating because we don't really know what it is."

* Backup MLB D.T. Shackelford, who has had nagging issues with both his ankles, was dressed out and participating in the early parts of practice Tuesday. Like Fon and Trahan, we'll keep you posted on his situation at the week progresses. "He's a lot better. D.T. is still not full speed but he's able to run around more and that was encouraging," said Houston.

* The offensive line combination of LT Bradley Sowell, LG Reid Neely, C Daverin Geralds, RG John Jerry, and RT Bobby Massie was successful against the Vols. Consequently, the coaches are sticking with that lineup for the LSU game. That comes as no surprise. By sliding Jerry inside and inserting Massie to the starting group, the Rebs increase in size substantially. That lineup is a lot of beef coming at defenders all day and it eventually wore Tennessee's DL down. Could it have the same affect on LSU? That's the hope.

* It's amazing what a quality win will do for the psyche of a team. The UT game provided a "happy tonic" for the Rebels. At Tuesday's practice, there was no tension and an air of confidence, very similar to last year's stretch run when the 2008 Rebs were loose and relaxed in the face of several big games.

* OL A.J. Hawkins, who missed some time the last week or so with a dislocated toe, returned to the fold Tuesday.

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