"I feel good. I think we are walking off the field better than when we walked on, and that's what you want to do," said Nutt. "Our guys fought through some things today and that's good to see because we are trying to push them through the bad things. We're preaching that if something bad happens, forget it and move on. Learn from it, but forget it. Have a short memory. Get to the next play and be mentally tough. I saw strides toward that goal today."
Nutt gave his first thumbs up to the offensive line of the fall camp after today's showing.
"Bradley Sowell has been doing good all along, but I thought A.J. Hawkins, Rishaw Johnson and Alex Washington stepped up today," he said. "That was good to see. Now, they need to keep adding to their performance today."
Houston was also very pleased with his quarterbacks.
"They executed better. From pass scale on, they did a nice job. I was proud of their effort today," he noted. "Every day they are evaluated on how they throw, execute, run the huddle, etc. Nathan has been executing well. You can tell Jeremiah has played a lot of ball. He's smooth and he makes things happen. He gets better as the game progresses. And Randall (Mackey), I don't know if I have ever seen anyone throw the ball more accurately and he's got a very good deep ball.
"Our decisions on who's going to play will be much tougher than we thought it would be. Jeremiah has experience and calmness. Nathan understands things the best of the three right now and is executing. Randall is throwing as good, if not better, than any of them. The competition is making all three of them better and I love that. We haven't had that kind of competition since I have been here with players of that quality and caliber. They are all very good. It's simple to see why Randall was a JUCO All-American. You can see why Jeremiah took a team to the Rose Bowl. You can see all those features."
The running game also clicked on several occasions in team drills.
"We're trying to get a hat on a hat and saw more of that today. We got some creases in there and the backs are running hard in there," Nutt said. "Jeff Scott has a different gear, he really does. He's lightning quick and fun to watch. We just have to make sure his ball security is good. He reminds me of a couple of guys we used to coach, but I don't want to use that name just yet - we have to make sure he's going to hold on to the ball, but he has a quick first step and he gets to a second gear quickly.
"I think all of them are doing good. Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis - all of them, have trained hard and it's showing in their play. They have that pride that they want to be the guy - all of them. I've been proud of them. Rodney Scott looked real good today as well."
The wideouts caught Nutt's eye as well.
"Ja-Mes Logan made some good plays, Markeith Summers is catching the ball well. Lionel Breaux is having a real good camp so far. Jesse Grandy and Korvic Neat give us some more speed out there. Melvin Harris is getting better and better, a whole lot better. He's stronger. He gets off the line better and he's using his height," Nutt allowed. "I tell you something else. I'm very happy we've got Vincent Sanders here too. He's doing real well."
None of the pending eligibility cases were resolved today - Bryon Bennett, Delvin Jones, Tony Grimes or Q. Mireles. Bennett, however, was at practice watching. He now weighs 294 pounds and is chomping at the bit to play.
"It's frustrating," said Nutt. "You see Bryon out here ready to go and itching to play and he can't. It just makes you mad, but hopefully his clearance will come soon."
Nutt said there is no update on Masoli's waiver from the NCAA.
* CB Cliff Coleman (ankle) is still missing practice and still in a boot. . . OLB Mike Marry (hamstring) was held out of practice today. "He's a little worse than we thought. It might be a few more days to get him back," said Nutt. . . No other injuries at this point.
* In the kind of heat the Rebels are practicing in, conditioning is a major factor. Strength & Conditioning Coach Don Decker said so far, so good. "Conditioning is not about not getting fatigued. You are going to get fatigue the way we work. Conditioning is about how quickly you recover," said Decker.
"So far, we're recovering well. An NFL coach once told me one sign of recovery is how they act at dinner after practice. If they are quiet, eat and get out of the diner, they may not be recovering quickly. If they are laughing and playing around while they eat and they are alert, it's a sign of good recovery. Our guys are having fun at dinner, not dragging around. That's a good sign our conditioning is where it needs to be."
* The crowded backfield from spring just got more crowded with the addition of Jeff Scott. That suits Enrique Davis just fine. "The more the merrier," said Davis. "Competition will make us all better. We all bring something to the table, we're all working hard and we all want to prove we can play ball. I like it. We just want to win and we don't carry who carries the ball. We all want it, but we're all happy for whoever produces. We all have skills that can help this team win. It's good, nothing negative about it."
* Nutt talked a lot about the offense so we asked DE Kentrell Lockett about the defensive performance the first day of pads. "We did alright, but we'll do better tomorrow. We had intensity most of the time, but sometimes it slacked off and the offense hit us for some plays today," Kentrell said. "They are getting better, especially on the OL, so we have to bring our game. A.J. and Tank are being more responsible and more mature. They are becoming the SEC linemen we need them to be. Rishaw Johnson is dedicated to being an big time OL after what happened to him last year. I can see a big difference in his effort. At times, we didn't bring it and they took advantage of it. They took advantage of our mistakes and we have to make up for it tomorrow."
* Prior to practice, Rishaw Johnson was snapping the ball some. OL Coach Mike Markuson is exploring all options to get the best five on the field.
* Physically, freshmen linebackers Clarence Jackson and Ralph Williams look like veterans. Jackson weighed in today at 235 pounds. Williams at 234. Enrique said after practice that "number 11 (Jackson) can really run." Nice start for the two rookie LBs.
* Freshman OL Jared Duke, a 350-pounder and a real big body, was working with the number two OL at right guard today. He needs to trim off about 25 pounds, but he's made an impression already.
* All three PKs hit their lone field goal attempts from 37 yards - Bryson Rose, David Hankins and Andrew Ritter were all perfect in teh short kicking session.
* Nothing can change a game quicker than a blocked punt. The front eight assigned to precent that from happening are currently Allen Walker, Reggie Hicks, Deep Snapper Will Denny, Ferbia Allen and Jonathan Cornell. Terrell Grant and Johnny Brown are on the wings and D.T. Shackelford is the personal protector. They are all bigger bodies who can absorb a rush and run well for coverage purposes.
* On the deep snapper front, freshman Denny is doing a nice job, but he's the guy from default right now. Spring number one, Wesley Phillips, is still rehabbing a knee injury, but he is expected back the last week of practice before the first game. Will be interesting to see who wins the job.
* Freshman OL Terrence Hackney is almost certain to redshirt, but it was good to see him display a little pop in one-on-one drills today. He was lined up at left tackle and going against Lockett. Stalemate, which surprised a lot of people, including Lockett.
* A lot is justifiable said and written about DT Jerrell Powe, but the coaches feel like his backup, if you can call him that, Ted Laurent is in the same class as players. Both are projected well by NFL scouts and having both at the same position is certainly a luxury for the DL.
* TE Z. Mason still has work to do. After all, he's a redshirt freshman, but it's easy to tell he's been working on his game. He's dropped some pounds and is down to 255. He looks stronger and he engages on blocks with more aggression and more bend than a year ago. Good signs, all.
* Two freshmen with promise collided today for the first time and it was a pretty good collision. FB Martez Eastland took on DE Carlos Thompson with Eastland, who had a running start, getting the better - this time - of Carlos.
"Martez has already shown he will light people up," said Nutt. "I hope we can redshirt Carlos, but he is so fast off the edge he may have to be a third-down rusher for us. We'll see. Regardless, we like the way both of them play so far."
* Big Jason Jones was used today at middle linebacker behind Cornell and Shackelford. He's played there before, but was moved to DE when he started tipping the scales around 255 pounds. He's an imposing figure in at MLB. We'll see if that sticks or not this time around.
* RS frosh CB Charles Sawyer got some reps with the number one defense today. He split time with senior Jeremy McGee. As we've stated before, Sawyer is considered a starter by the coaches.
* FB E.J. Epperson is a load when he catches a pass on a flare route with a head of steam. Ask Sawyer. Charles met him head-on and got E.J. out of bounds, but he did not knock him off his feet and definitely got the worst end of the collision.
* Jeff Scott ripped off a long run today for a score, but it was WR Jared Mitchell's block that sprung him. Mitchell reminds us of Andrew Harris, who played here two years ago and was an effective blocker. Rodney Scott and Brandon Bolden also ripped off long runs in team drills as well.
* In pass scale, all the QBs were pretty good. Stanley was 5-7, Masoli was 4-6 and Mackey was 3-6. The only difference in all three was that Mackey went deep more than the other two, and he connected on one bomb that flew at least 65 yards in the air.
* Pratice is at 5:20 p.m. tomorrow and will be somewhat a rehearsal of Saturday's scrimmage, but will be full speed and full pads, we are told. Both are open to the public.