Thursday Practice Report

The Rebels moved outside for practice on Thursday, working out in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in full pads. When the dust had cleared, Coach Houston Nutt tipped his hat to the Rebel defensive front. Read about it inside.

For the first time since Cotton Bowl practices started, the Ole Miss Rebel football team took it outside, working out in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"The weatherman said it was going to be 52 degrees, but I don't think it made it to that," said Coach Houston Nutt, laughing. "The players asked me why we were practicing outside in the cold when the game will be inside in the dome and I told them I just wanted some fresh air. I thought it was going to be warmer."

Once again, the areas being stressed were more installation of the gameplan, more work against Oklahoma State's looks, special teams play and extra reps for some of the young players.

At the end of the day, Nutt gave the defensive front the most kudos.

"I've got to give it to the defensive line. Greg Hardy, Emmanuel Stephens, Marcus Tillman, Kentrell Lockett, Jerrell Powe, Lawon Scott, Ted Laurent, all those guys go full speed all the time and it's great work to go against them and see how they attack the game and practices," said Nutt. "They've been our strength all year and continue to be leading up to this bowl.

"It was also good to see Patrick Trahan out here for the second straight day. He looked fine. I'm also pleased with the progress of our young players."

Nutt will shift gears Friday and Saturday before letting the team take their Christmas break before meeting back up in Dallas on December 26th.

"We'll have back-to-back Thursday type practices - not much contact, but a lot of mental work and situational work. We'll need good concentration and hit those things hard and then one more time we'll give out young guys some extra work," Nutt stated.

Nutt is excited about playing against his alma mater in the Cotton Bowl.

"I know a lot of those guys. Gunter Brewer comes by in the spring some. I coached Mike Gundy and it's good to see him do well," Houston stated. "They are good guys. I knew Mike would be a good coach."

Random Notes:

* Senior TB Cordera Eason missed practice today due to his Grandfather passing away. Cordera will most likely not be with the team again until they meet up in Dallas.

* DT Justin Smith is still out with a sore foot, the same one he broke back in August. He will not practice until the team gets to Dallas, if then.

* P Tyler Campbell, who made Freshman All-SEC and was one of the leading punters in the conference as a true frosh this season, will give it a shot at trying to hit the scoreboard in Cowboys Stadium. "Not in the game, but in practice, I'll give it a try," he smiled. "I have heard it will take a five second hang time to hit it. I know it will take a bomb, but it would be cool to hit it." Tyler definitely has a five second hang time punt in his arsenal.

* With the middle of the Rebel offensive line - Reid Neely, Daverin Geralds and John Jerry - graduating, there's a lot of attention being paid to the young offensive linemen who will be in the mix to take their places. A bump with OL Coach Mike Markuson resulted in a few comments about some of them. "Josh Tatum has been a real pleasant surprise lately. He's much stronger now and he weighs about 310 pounds. He's bending well now and he's been real physical. He's night and day from the start of this season, and he's beginning to act the part of an SEC lineman," noted Markuson. "Emmanuel McCray has a world of ability. He's a very smart kid. He takes coaching well and he usually gets things right the first time. He's not a guy who needs a lot of reps to do something correctly. Every coach likes that. Mike Brown has done some good things but he has to improve his strength, which will come in time. Logan Clair has gotten his strength levels up, but we have to hit the fundamentals with him hard this spring. Chris Gill has done some good things as well, but he's like Mike in that he has to hit the weight room hard. I'm pleased. They are all doing pretty good for this stage in their careers.". . . Tatum said he now benches 400, squats 550 and power cleans "right at" 300, but the biggest improvements in his mind are his flexibility and his knowledge of the plays now.

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