|August 15, 2009||Scrimmage thoughts, observations||3 comments|
|August 15, 2009||Saturday Morning Update||6 comments|
|August 14, 2009||Sophomore DT Smith breaks a foot||no comments|
|August 14, 2009||The Wild Rebel||3 comments|
|August 14, 2009||Morning update||2 comments|
|August 13, 2009||Thursday practice notebook||1 comments|
|August 13, 2009||FieldTurf to be installed at stadium||7 comments|
|August 13, 2009||Snead and the Heisman race||3 comments|
|August 13, 2009||Strong finish, strong start for Bolden||5 comments|
|August 13, 2009||Today's opinion offering||1 comments|
A few thoughts and observations from today's scrimmage, the first of August camp:
When you have what is believed to be one of the top defensive lines in the country you can't get up tight when the offense doesn't make a lot of plays.
The first team got a few jabs in, not many. Cordera Eason had a nice touchdown run over the left side, jumping a defender at the line and showing a nice burst of speed in going 75 yards.
That lone run didn't endanger Brandon Bolden as the starter, but it is a reminder of the depth at tailback. It's also a reminder that Bolden and Eason are the top two -- behind Dexter McCluster -- and that Enrique Davis is back in the distance.
In fact, the third back is probably freshman Tim Simon at this point. Simon had a 40-yard touchdown run late in the day against mostly a third-team defense, but he was impressive against some upper tier defenders too, showing an ability to bounce off contact and keep running. That will always get you playing time.
Freshman WR Patrick Patterson had touchdown grabs of 50 and 25 yards, both from backup QB Nathan Stanley.
A lot of hype preceded Patterson, and he's living up to it in this camp.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt was kind of cool on Stanley's performance, staying he wants to see more consistency from the redshirt freshman who is vying for the No. 2 job. It will be an interesting QB battle a year from now between Stanley and current true freshman Raymond Cotton.
Freshman linebackers D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight were consistently around the ball and making plays. I'd guess Shackelford would be the second middle linebacker at this point.
Another freshman who was really impressive on the defensive side was end Craig Drummond. He was hard to block. He did a good job of getting off the block and making the play or at least holding his ground.
He could move inside to tackle if need be following the loss of Justin Smith with a broken foot Friday.
This scrimmage was geared for the young guys, and a lot of them looked really good. One who looked average was Bobby Massie, in competition with sophomore Bradley Sowell for the starting job at left tackle.
Sowell took all the snaps with the ones and looks to be well ahead in that competition. Sowell did well protecting Snead with Kentrell Lockett coming off the edge.
Sowell is big and athletic and has really good footwork. But he's struggling with the speed of things right now, and that was evident when redshirt freshman Gerald Rivers got past him rather easily for a sack against Stanley.
The Rebels will practice again tomorrow and Monday. No rest for the weary when you start practice later than other teams but play the same weekend.
Morning folks. Practice is at 4:30 today, and most of it will be a scrimmage with emphasis on the younger players. I'll have some notes up afterward.
There have been problems the last few days when I've posted a link to Ole Miss stories on our NEMS360 website. When I post the link at first, it appears to be fine, but I know several of you have let me know that they aren't working. I appreciate the heads up. There appears to be an issue at the Mothership, and I'll check on that.
The injury to Justin Smith last night brings DL depth into focus. Smith was running third team. I asked Houston Nutt about this the other day, why LaMark Armour, a fifth-year senior who has appeared in six games over the course of his career, was running second team. Nutt said Armour "has earned it."
That's an answer that I place in the gray and undefined category, and I wonder if it didn't have more to do with motivating Smith, who appeared in 12 games last year as a freshman for whom the staff often had high praise.
This appears to be an opportunity in the making for Armour or for freshman Corey Gaines.
Ole Miss' depth along the defensive line took a hit Friday when sophomore Justin Smith sustained a broken foot in practice.
Smith was running third team at tackle behind senior LaMark Armour. Smith appeared in 12 games a true freshman last year and netted six tackles.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said its possible Smith could return before the end of this season. He could also be redshirted.
It's been interesting to watch Dexter McCluster thus far in camp. At the close of Thursday's workout players lined up for sprints. McCluster led his group, way out in front in what appeared to be an effortless manner.
Forget receiver. He's a running back. That's where he's spending his time anyway. The coaches know what he can do as a receiver. They know he has dependable hands in traffic. Running back is a posiiton he still needs a little work on at the college level, a little reminder of the toughness required.
Sending McCluster to work with the running backs also allows more reps for young receivers like Patrick Patterson, Ja-Mes Logan and Jesse Grandy, who could find themselves on the field this year.
It's difficult to try and peg McCluster on the depth chart. He's listed No. 1 at flanker but doesn't practice there. Sophomore Brandon Bolden continues to be listed No. 1 at tailback.
That kind of stuff is irrelevant, really. McCluster will get his touches, and he'll get them in a variety of ways.
I look at him now, and he just looks much stronger than he did earlier in his career.
Remember, the neck and shoulder injury sustained on the kickoff against Vanderbilt in 2006 basically ended his freshman season and delayed the start of his sophomore season. McCluster only played in 14 games under former coach Ed Orgeron. He played in all 13 games last year.
It's reasonable to think offense under Orgeron wouldn't have been so bleak if McCluster had been around more. True, perhaps. Orgeron, however, never indicated an intention to use McCluster in so many different ways. It's McCluster's versatility, his success as the Wild Rebel and tailback, that have made him the player he is today, probably the top multi-purpose threat in the league.
Up and at 'em early this morning. First day of school. Seeing has how I've already been through school it doesn't seem fair that I have to get up before the kids.
Anyway, that's the case, and here's a link from the print edition to my update on linebacker Patrick Trahan.
From the SEC
It's always interesting to get to practice early and see Houston Nutt throwing the fade route. Looks like he's still got it.
When Nutt wasn't throwing the fade route today, redshirt freshman Nathan Stanley was, at least with the second team, where Stanley took most of the reps, more than senior Billy Tapp. Part of that is due to the fact the staff has seen Tapp and is still getting an idea for how Stanley responds in different situations.
There's no clear indication of how they'd go if Snead was hurt badly. My guess is Tapp would finish a game, but they'd get Stanley ready for a season.
On the field the offense made some plays today, but I'd still give the defense the upper hand. That defensive line is really good. Jerrell Powe's name was called more than once for shout-outs by DL coach Terry Price. Powe, running second team, was going against the second team OL.
Nutt said he'd bring end Greg Hardy along slowly, though he intends to play one of the nation's top pass rushers against Memphis. Hardy, his right foot heavily wrapped, was held out of many team reps.
Freshman linebackers D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight got lots of second team reps. Senior backup Lamar Brumfield (hamstring) did not practice today and may not practice tomorrow, which made that possible.
On the offensive side, redshirt sophomore Rishaw Johnson has been dropped to third team at right guard as a disciplinary measure.
Tackle Bobby Massie, still running second team on the left side behind Bradley Sowell, showed some nice footwork when OL coach Mike Markuson was working with tackles on leading with their left foot on the drop step. Markuson spent a lot of time with freshman Emmanuel McCray during that drill.
Freshman Tim Simon has looked reallly good at running back and shows no sign of moving to linebacker.
Senior Dexter McCluster will get the ball often, and it appears he'll get it as tailback more than anything else. He's spending little, if any, time with the receivers. There are plenty of receivers to choose from any way. Freshmen Pat Patterson and Ja-Mes Logan are pushing for playing time.
Redshirt freshman DB LeKenwic Haynes has missed some practice time with an irregular heartbeat. The injury is not considered career-threatening, and he is expected back next week.
Although he was almost an afterthought in his signing class, Brandon Bolden’s talent was evident early last season.
It wasn’t until the Cotton Bowl, however, that Bolden really looked like the No. 1 back, and he continues through camp at the top of the depth chart.
Cordera Eason, now a senior, had some very productive games down the stretch, coming off the bench to run with power after speedy Dexter McCluster had sliced and diced early in the game.
But when Eason fumbled in the first quarter of the Cotton Bowl, Bolden took over, running for 101 yards against Texas Tech, and has slowed down since.
At a position so crowded with talented, capable backs, it’s a little uncommon to name a starter so early, but Austin says Bolden “has the combination of skills we’re looking for.”
Prior history suggests that a lot of backs will play, but No. 1 on the depth chart means you get the first chance - probably more chances - to impress.
No. 1 tailback in this offense is also a bit gray and undefined. Although Dexter McCluster is not a true tailback you can look for him to get his carries too, probably early in the game.
Houston Nutt has shown he’ll ride a hot back, but the backs better make the most of their playing time quickly - especially considering there’s a quarterback like Jevan Snead and a deep receiving corp.