OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt would like to have seen a faster start from his first string players Saturday, but as the Rebels’ first major scrimmage of August camp rolled along he was pleased with the production from his newcomers.
The defense set a tone early and limited the big plays. Though No. 2 tailback Cordera Eason jumped a defender at the line and showed a burst of speed on the side on a 75-yard touchdown run, trips to the end zone were infrequent from the starters.
“Our defense is really good, and that makes us better,” quarterback Jevan Snead said. “But it also makes us look worse sometimes.”
The scrimmage lasted roughly an hour and 45 minutes and was played before several hundred fans on the team’s upper practice field.
After the final horn, Nutt was beaming again about his freshmen.
– Wide receiver Patrick Patterson had touchdown catches of 50 and 25 yards, both from backup quarterback Nathan Stanley.
– Running back Tim Simon reeled off several nice runs, one for 20 yards after breaking contact at the line of scrimmage. He later scored on a 40-yard run off the right side against a mostly third-team defense.
– Wide receiver Jesse Grandy had a 25-yard run on an end around.
– Defensive end Craig Drummond held his own at the line of scrimmage, holding his space or making a play.
– Linebackers D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight were routinely around the football.
“The longer we went we found out more about the freshmen when they got hot and tired,” Nutt said. “Grandy showed us some real speed on that reverse.”
Drummond (6-foot-5, 260), who enrolled in school in January and went through spring drills, could possibly move from end to tackle after sophomore Justin Smith sustained a broken foot in Friday’s practice.
Smith was running third team at one tackle, behind second-teamer LaMark Armour.
It wasn’t a banner day for all the freshmen.
Tackle Bobby Massie, in competition with sophomore Bradley Sowell for a starting job on the left side, the position held by Michael Oher last season, showed his age in handling a fast defensive end. Redshirt freshman Gerald Rivers got past him easily for a sack against Stanley.
Sowell held his own in work against the No. 1 defensive line.
“We have to keep working on protection. That’s the hardest thing with the animals we go against in our league and the speed they have on the edge,” Nutt said.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal