"We got in about 80 plays inside, doing everything but tackling to the ground. It was really good," said Coach Houston Nutt. "The defense got the better of the offense today and forced three or four turnovers. That's great for the defense, but not good for the offense.
"Don't ask me who threw them," he laughed. "That's why we closed the practice. But I'll tell you this - gotta give it to Fon Ingram, Johnny Brown and Damien Jackson a lot of credit. They did a great job playing the ball, but then they have to turn around and give it to that defensive line for putting on the pressure to cause the bad throws."
Nutt also had praise for the cornerbacks, but wants to see more numbers emerge.
"We're thin there, but the ones out there are playing really well. Marcus Temple and Jeremy McGee have played and know what's going on," he continued. "Charles Sawyer had a good spring and has come back strong. Frank Crawford was moved from safety and we're glad we did that.
"The top three understand what we want, they know where to line up, they have been aggressive with their tackling and they have been aggressive playing the ball in the air. Sawyer is number three right now, but he's going to play a lot of football."
The focus turned to offense for a moment and freshman RB Jeff Scott and where he "fits in."
"We haven't put everything down on paper, but Jeff brings that lightning, quickness and speed to the position," said Nutt. "We're glad we have him. He can be real good and I like that we have running backs stacked up because I have seen that position get thin in a hurry with injuries."
OK, it's been two days since quarterback was the subject. What's new on that front?
"They didn't have a good day today, but it's a very competitive situation. They are playing at a high level, other than the picks they threw today," he said. "They are all doing a good job and Jeremiah (Masoli) and Randall (Mackey) have done an awesome job of catching up in their knowledge.
"I'm anxious to see the second scrimmage. We're probably going to have to start whittling it down and making some decisions next Sunday and Monday, and we don't anticipate it to be an easy decision."
Co-Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach Dave Rader echoed Nutt's sentiments.
"We had our worsts day at quarterback at fall camp, but we'll bounce back. Usually, when that happens, when we have taken one step back, the next day, we will take two forward after we watch the film and analyze where we went wrong," he said. "Basically, it was a defense that was bringing it, and they bring it every day. Today, we didn't respond as well as we have in some other days. I'm glad Coach (Nix) brings it. We need to see all those things to get ready for games. Sometimes we handle it, at other times, we don't, today was one of those days.
"Overall, though, they have done an outstanding job of getting everything that has been thrown at them and absorbing as much as we have given them. It's not an easy process, but they have done very well handling it. I'll be disappointed if we don't bounce back tomorrow, so that's what tempers my disappointment from today."
* With seniors Johnny Brown and Fon Ingram and junior Damien Jackson firmly entrenched as the top three safeties, many Reb fans are turning their questions about those two slots to 'who's fourth?' Right now, it's a two-man battle between true frosh Brishen Mathews and converted wideout Terrell Grant with Mathews holding a slight edge. Mathews, it's been said, has simply been more active to this point, but we've also been told Grant is "getting better."
It will be interesting to see how that shakes out, but in the meantime the difference between Ingram and Jackson is very minute. Fon has game experience and Safeties Coach Kim Dameron knows how he's going to react in crunch time. He also has better ball skills than Damien, but the JUCO transfer who made a significant splash in spring training with his physical play and is nipping at Fon's heels for the top spot. Regardless, both Ingram and Jackson are penciled in for major playing time no matter who is declared the starter.
* How's redshirt freshman TE Z. Mason doing, you ask? After losing 15 pounds down to 255, by design, and becoming more flexible, by hard work, Z. is starting to make an impression on TE Coach James Shibest. Z. is getting more and more praise and less correction during practice. He's obviously playing faster as he learns more and more of the nuances of the position and he's showing up physically as well. Shibest needs Mason to surface to round out the position because backup senior Reggie Hicks is more of a motion, 'H-back' kind of player and not a true tight end that lines up next to the tackle and takes defensive ends or linebackers out. Mason, so far, has gotten a good progress report, but more is needed.
* On the injury front, as was reported yesterday, frosh CB Cliff Coleman is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken foot. . . OLB Mike Marry (hamstring) continues to dress out, but not go through any full speed drills. . . Freshman RB Jeff Scott missed today's practice due to a migraine headache. . . Senior WR Markeith Summers is sitting out with a hamstring pull, the extent of which is unknown at this time, but Nutt said "slightly pulled.". . . TE Ferbia Allen, who missed yesterday due to personal issues, was back in the fold today. . . DT Justin Smith, who missed most of last week with a chest infection, practiced yesterday and was also working out today. Apparently, no relapse with his condition.
* Junior DE Wayne Dorsey was fitted for a cast on his thumb/hand today to protect a bone in that area that was hit yesterday. It's precautionary so the bump does not turn into a fracture similar to what Jerrell Powe has had to overcome during his career with a couple of surgeries and playing with padding.
* Junior Derrick Herman continues to look for a "home." Maybe this time he's found one. You'll recall Herman started out in the defensive backfield and then was switched to running back last spring, where he showed some elusiveness and made some plays.
Today, he was moved to wide receiver. Derrick has good hands, with evidence being his use as a punt returner in practice, and should be able to apply the his quickness in his route running.
* True freshman Defensive Tackle Bryon Bennett was in full pads Tuesday and looks the part of an SEC D-Lineman at 6-2ish and 295 pounds. He's in his infancy as a collegiate football player, first day of pads and all, but he seems willing from what little we were able to see. More on him as the year progresses.
* Walkon Tight End Jack Nusimer, who was at Ole Miss last year, has been added to the fall camp 105 allotment allowed when Pack Toler opted to quit football yesterday. Nusimer, from Nashville, has an interesting background. He's the nephew of singers Amy Grant and Vince Gill.
* JUCO transfer Jarius Williams, who was on campus working out with the team during the summer at wide receiver, has been moved to cornerback behind Jeremy McGee, Frank Crawford and Ryan Campbell.
* Sophomore Punter Tyler Campbell has put a string of three or four days together where he is simply mashing the football, routinely kicking the ball 70 yards, or more, in the air with 5-second hang time. Apparently, he's done a good job of adjusting to new Deep Snapper Will Denny and of relaxing some after a year's experience.
* A player who is starting to get some attention as a walkon who has a real shot at earning a scholarship in the near future is OL Patrick Junen, a 6-8, 300-plus pounder from Huntsville, AL. He and fellow freshman Jared Duke, at 6-6, 340, make a pretty imposing pair of rookies. In bull in the ring drills, Junen has shown some prowess, followed by a chorus of "Juuuuuuuuuu" from his offensive teammates.
* Senior DT Ted Laurent remained ahead of senior DT Jerrell Powe in today's drills, but as was explained yesterday, both are considered starters.
* With Summers out today, and probably more days, with the hamstring pull, Melvin Harris moved to the head of the line today. If Harris keeps playing the way he has been to this point in fall camp, Summers better come back quickly and with fire or it may stay that way. Harris, as has been reported, has done real, real good so far, probably the best of all the wideouts in fall camp.