Nix likes direction, options

Ole Miss Running Backs Coach Derrick Nix's group is long on two qualities - the effort they are putting into fall camp and the options he has to work with. Read about it inside.

After last Saturday's scrimmage - the first of the fall camp, Rebel RB Coach Derrick Nix liked what he saw.

"At tailback, I think we are real solid. The guys came out in the scrimmage and followed up with what they had been doing all week," he stated. "They took care of the football, which is number one, they played with great effort and they were OK with their assignments after having a lot thrown at them in the first week.

"We're looking to fine-tune the execution of our assignments this week, but overall I was very pleased. Again, we took care of the ball, we got YAC (yards after contact) most of the time and the intensity level was where I wanted it."

The scrimmage got off to a good start for the RBs when TB Enrique Davis ripped off a long TD run off the right side.

Enrique Davis

"Fullback E.J. Epperson made a great fit on the linebacker, Enrique made a fantastic cut to get to the open field and he was gone," explained Nix. "That's a cut Enrique hasn't been making earlier in his career.

"Enrique has worked hard his tail off and it appears he is now over the adjustment time from high school to college. Some take longer than others. He understands what we want now. He's running downhill and not wasting motion. He's finding the crease and taking it. He's using his 220 pounds more effectively, playing behind his pads better. When he gets behind his pads, he's a load to bring down. He's never been slow in straight line speed, but what we needed him to improve was his quickness to get to openings more effectively. If a hole is slightly left or right, he can now make that move to get in it and then let his speed and power gain some momentum and work for him."

Nix was obviously not ready to talk about any kind of pecking order with the tailbacks yet, but it's pretty obvious Brandon Bolden, Enrique, Rodney Scott are the top three with speed backs Derrick Herman and Jeff Scott being the quick hitter guys at this point.

"We've got a real competition going on out here in practice and I want it to stay that way," Nix noted. "We have a couple of more scrimmages left to decide a rotation and a pecking order.

"I don't want anyone out here assuming they are a starter or are guaranteed playing time. I want them to know they can't take a lazy step or a have a bad rep without consequences. In my mind, everyone is competing to become the guy."

Jeff Scott has shown excellent mobility - speed and quickness - and has made an early mark on camp.

Jeff Scott

"Because of his speed, I think Jeff is going to fore his way onto the field this fall," Derrick stated. "He's done some good things and makes things happen."

At fullback, it appears Epperson has matured and is now taking that position by the throat.

"He's grown up. It was a hard transition for him from tight end to fullback last year, but he's starting to get it now and he's excited about it," Nix explained. "He's learning how to fill a lane and get fits on linebackers and safeties. I just want him to play with great effort and that's what he has been doing in this camp. He locks on a guy, moves his feet and gives our backs a chance.

"H.R. Greer has also shown he's a hard-nosed guy too. I'm also really excited about my freshman, Martez Eastland. He locks on and blocks to the whistle. He's bringing a good level of intensity to that position. I am very pleased at fullback right now, but we've got to keep moving forward. Nick Parker, who is playing tailback and fullback, is also a guy who is hard-nosed and has a good future here."

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