Saturday scrimmage report -

TB Brandon Bolden

A lot of the starters didn't play much because Saturday's scrimmage in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was meant to get film footage on everyone, but even at that, Coach Houston Nutt wanted more than he saw from his Ole Miss football squad. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was a long way from upset about the results of the first scrimmage of spring training held mid-day Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, but he expected a little more during the 75-play workout in front of roughly 600 eager fans on this sun-kissed day.

"We've got to get better. First spring scrimmages are usually like that, but we can do better," said Nutt. "The defense was ahead of the offense, which is normal this time of the year, and they did a good job of chasing the ball, but we have got to get better in terms of tackling, getting lined up and playing faster.

"There seems to be a lot of thinking going on right now, especially for the younger guys. We want them on automatic pilot, but we'll get there. This is what spring training is for."

Nutt was not as kind about the offensive showing.

"You can't stop yourself. We could have had a pretty good day on offense but the receivers dropped way too many balls, catches that would have been first downs or touchdowns," he continued. "We were putting ourselves in long yardage situations and that's never good."

Part of the reason the offense didn't quite click was the liberal subbing of some of the top players, as Nutt wanted to get a look - on film - of every player on the squad.

"We took out John Jerry, Daverin Geralds and guys like them because we know what they can do. Marcus Tillman, Jonathan Cornell - we took out guys who we know what they can do and know they are winners," Houston said. "We wanted to get more players on film so we can try to grade their progress.

"Overall, I think we took a step forward, but we all have to do better. We have to coach better, play better, concentrate better."

On the plus side, Houston was OK with the defensive effort.

"Jerrell Powe keeps coming and we've been pleased with the main guys - Lockett, Cornell, Trahan, Marshay Green, Cassius Vaughn, Kendrick Lewis, Lawon Scott and so on," he said. "Our first team defense and some of the backups, like CB Jeremy McGee, are doing fine, for the most part. They are playing with confidence.

"On offense, I am very pleased with Jerry and Geralds. They have been excellent and are providing leadership and toughness to our team. Jevan Snead is doing some good things, as is Shay Hodge and our top backs. We held Dexter (McCluster) out today with a minor ankle injury, but he could have played. He's been really good too. We looked at a lot of different offensive linemen in different situations today. We've got to have guys like Rishawa Johnson, Bradley Sowell, Alex Washington, Don Mosley, Logan Clair and A.J. Hawkins to make some advancement and get to the next level. That will be one of our main focal points the rest of spring training. We know what the main guys can do - let's get those others up to speed."

Random Notes:

* Have no fear on Dexter. He'll be back Monday, he says. "I got stepped on by Trahan running a route yesterday, but it's nothing, just a little sore" he said. . . Here's the deal - there will be no chances taken on Dexter. Period. Every precaution will be used to protect him this spring. Hence, today's decision to hold him out.

* S Fon Ingram tweaked his hamstring in yesterday's practice but played in the scrimmage Saturday. He said he was fine and it wasn't a pull.

* Over the weekend, 130 local coaches attended a coaching clinic. Nutt was ecstatic how the weekend went. "Bobby Hall from Madison Central did an excellent job with his talk he gave the clinic. The turnout was very good and the interaction with the high school coaches and JUCO coaches in our area was excellent," Nutt stated. "It was a really good weekend from that perspective."

* Former Rebel OL Marcus Johnson signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders yesterday, according to big brother Belton, who was at the scrimmage. He joins former Rebel DE Derrick Burgess on the Raider squad.

* A few scrimmage notes: On the first series of the workout, with the one offense going against the two defense, Snead got some pressure and tried to throw across the field. CB Jeremy McGee jumped the out route, picked off the pass and raced 50 yards for a score. Nutt said McGee is "gaining confidence daily and that's good to see because we need more corners to emerge.". . . . Snead settled down after that early miscue and had some outstanding throws. Unfortunately, they weren't always caught. WR Lionel Breaux dropped a bomb in the clear that was right on the money that would have gone for a 50-yard TD. Breaux came back two plays later to make a 25-yard catch in traffic for some redemption. . . DE Kentrell Lockett had two sacks on the day to lead the defensive charge. . . Backup QB Nathan Stanley is getting a baptism by fire, so to speak. He and freshman Clayton Moore were "live" today and took some heavy hits, especially Stanley, who was sacked once and hit behind the line while scrambling another time. But Nathan hung tough and made some good throws for completions on the day. . . WR Markeith Summers, Hodge, Andrew Harris and TE Gerald Harris all had short TD catches on the afternoon. . . PK Josh Shene was 3-4 on field goals, with a long of 42 yards and was good on his only PAT attempt. . .TB Devin Thomas has the longest run from scrimmage, a 30-yard TD jaunt in traffic where he showed some power to get through the line and some quickness to get to the outside and in the open. Devin also caught a Billy Tapp screen pass for an 18-yard gain. . . Tapp also hit Breaux for a 20-yard game on a strike over the middle while directing the number two offense against the number one defense. . . . Backup LB Brandon Sanders and SS Johnny Brown also had QB sacks on the day. . . . Toward the end of practice, TB Andre Sterling had a 20-yard TD run and QB Clayton Moore scrambled in from the 9.

Photos by Chuck Rounsaville
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