Practice Report: Tuesday

FS Charles Clark

During a 2 1/2 hour practice in full pads and with full contact, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron liked what he saw in terms of energy and enthusiasm. But the preparations for The Citadel's option attack will take time to perfect. Read about it inside.

Rebel Football Coach Ed Orgeron put his team through a 2 1/2 hour full-pads, full-contact practice today and was excited about the enthusiasm and energy the Rebels exhibited.

"The guys had a great attitude today. This is what 'Competition Tuesday' is all about - competing and being ready to get some work done. I was pleased with the energy we had today, especially at the end in team drills," he explained. "We had a 26-play scrimmage where we kept score for the offense and defense. It ended up 13-13 with each play being worth one point. We had to have a tiebreaker play and all the guys were into it."

(The defense won, by the way, on an incomplete pass.)

While Orgeron was pleased with the effort, he was not as pleased with the performance on the defensive side in trying to learn how to defend the option The Citadel will employ, but he understood why.

"I told the guys that we would probably look a little rough around the edges while learning to defend the option they use, but that it would all come together as the week progressed," he continued. "To simluate the option is difficult and to learn how to defend it properly takes time and patience.

"But everyone has a little bit of an option package these daysf. I think it's the Urban Meyer influence and kind of trendy, but effective. We were shaky in defending it today, but we'll be better tomorrow. You just have to keep working and grinding out all the kinks."

Orgeron said The Citadel runs the option out of the shotgun and doesn't expect them to change anything even though their top QB tore an ACL in their last game.

"It's not a conventional option, but it's option-based. They are a big run team and do a good job with their system. I don't look for them to do anything differently with a different quarterback in the lineup, just as we didn't do anything different when Robert Lane came in for Micheal Spurlock. They will run what they have practiced," Coach O predicted. "I tell you, in working on it, it's good to have Patrick (Willis) in there to work against those looks. He will help the learning curve of the other players. It's good we can see the option in here somewhere. It's a challenge and brings your focus back to where it should be. You have to really concentrate to get your assignments right, so it keeps you mentally sharp."

Random Notes:

* Starting C Darryl Harris could only practice part of the time today due to spasms in his back. "It was disappointing, but we got some good work in with Tony Bonds and Ben Boyce," Orgeron noted. It is not expected to be a condition that lasts past today.

* Senior WR Mario Hill dressed out today, but once again he was limited in his work and did not rep in full speed drills. His hamstring is still bothering him some, but he did run laps today and stretched it out some, which is progress in his rehab efforts.

* The coaches did some "fiddling around" with the number one defense today, inserting CBs Dustin Mouzon and Nate Banks in the starting lineup in place of Trumaine McBride and Travis Johnson. "Nate and Dustin have been doing real well lately. We want to give them more playing time and rest our starters more if we can get a little more comfortable. I think that will help everyone," Orgeron noted.

* The Rebels flipped looks today - the Offense went in Red jerseys, the Defense in White. It's normally the opposite way. Orgeron said there was no major reason, just something different to break the monotony.

* Senior WLB Kelvin Robinson was in a Blue jersey today, signifying no contact, but he participated in all the drills of the number one defense.

* Senior LT Bobby Harris and sophomore LB Dontae Reed had late classes on Tuesday and Thursday and miss the first coupel of periods of practice. When they join the team after about 30-45 minutes, they move right in to their positions - Bobby as the number one LT and Dontae as Garry Pack's backup at SLB. In their absence, David Traxler moves in for Bobby and LeRon King moves in for Dontae.

* In punt drills today, freshman Rob Park continued his "hot streak." He punted five times for a 47-yard average with good hang time. . . Will Moseley punted three times for a 44-yard average with excellent hang time. There is a possibility Park will get his first punting action as a collegian this weekend. It's being tossed around by the coaches, Orgeron stated.

* TB Alan Abrams has been the forgotten man the last two weeks with the emergence of Mico McSwain and frosh Antonio Turner, but he got several good reps - and produced nice runs - in running game drills today. . . Turner (with the twos) and McSwain (with the ones) also produced, but it was a drill the defense held their own in.

* We don't mean this badly, and certainly are not poking fun at him, but everyone seemed to get at least a grin out of MLB Patrick Willis trying to pick up a loose ball with "the club" cast protecting his broken finger. He muffed it several times and then kind of kicked it away in frustration. Then he smiled broadly in the futility of the task. You can bet if there is a fumble Saturday, P-Willie will pounce on it and will not try a scoop-and-score move.

* As practice wore on, music from the stadium was evident. The sound folks trying to get the PA system working properly are back this week making more adjustments and will make more Saturday during the game with The Citadel.

* Coach O scheduled a very tough and very long period of pass protection and pass rush drills with the interior linemen and it was beneficial. "We have to keep working those phases of the game. The more we work our techniques, the better we will get on both sides of the ball," he explained. "Nothing works like actually doing it full speed, so we set aside enough time to get some real work done in those areas."

* In field goal kicking today, Robert Bass and Will Moseley combined for a 7-11 effort. Bass was 6-9 inside the 45, hitting from 20, 20, 24, 35, 41 and 45 and missing from 29, 32 and 43. Moseley was 1-2, hitting from 55 and missing from 53 yards out.

* In teams drills, the breakdown was as follows: (Ones) Spurlock to Espy 5 (Banks). . . Spurlock to Kendrick 25. . . McSwain 0 (Pack). . . Incomplete on fade route. . . (Twos) Turner 3 (Taylor). . . Lane keep 2 (Peria Jerry). . . Incomplete. . . Lane to Milton Collins 8. . . (Ones, with liberal subbing) McSwain 4 (K-Rob). . . McSwain 0 (Willis). . . Spurlock to Espy 6 (Mouzon). . . Spurlock to Pittman 7 (Pack). . . (Twos) Turner 6 (Russell). . . Incomplete broken up by McBride. . . Turner 5 (Reed). . . (Ones, third and short situations) Spurlock to Pittman 2 (Banks, no first down). . . Spurlock to Brooks 4 for 1st down. . . Spurlock to Espy 12 for 1st down. . . QB sack Bozeman/Willis. . . (Twos, same scenario) Pass broken up B. Brown. . . Turner 5 for 1st down. . . Lane to Suggs 7 for first down. . . Pass broken up Russell.

* After practice, DT McKinley Boykin was asked about the morale of the team. "We have lost three games in a row, so we are not on top of the world," he responded, "but we are keeping our heads up and working hard to turn things around. We are confident, but we need to win and gain some more of that."

* The Rebs will practice in full pads tomorrow at 3:45 p.m.

Photos by Chuck Rounsaville
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