Where's Greg Hardy?
Greg Hardy was All-SEC and All-America last year, but this is a new year, a new staff, and Hardy isn't on the first team.
He took some snaps with the first team this spring, but by and large he's run behind sophomore Kentrell Lockett.
Hardy averaged a sack a game last year, tops in the SEC, but intensity and attention to detail are holding him back right now.
“We're just looking for 100 percent effort and 100 percent of doing the little things right day in and day out,” defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said.
Hardy was suspended by former coach Ed Orgeron near the end of last season for what the player described as a “lack of diligence regarding meetings and practices.”
Last year Hardy appeared in 10 games and was second in the SEC in tackles for loss with 18 ? and third in forced fumbles with three.
He played sparingly in the Red-Blue game but was credited with one assist and a fumble return.
The Wild Rebel
Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden gained fame last year for, among other things, the “Wild Hog” formation where he took a shotgun snap from center.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt wasted little time in inserting the “Wild Rebel” formation into his new playbook. Dexter McCluster was an easy choice to take the snaps, especially after Nutt learned that McCluster had some exposure to quarterback in high school.
“Actually, I wasn't that familiar with it, but when he got here and started talking about it, I got excited,” said McCluster, whose primary position remains receiver.
McCluster did not attempt a pass from the formation but took plenty of snaps and either ran or handed off.
“We've got a fast guy that can run and keep people off balance,” Nutt said. “When you put the ball in his hands he's dangerous.”
McCluster had eight catches for 106 yards and rushed five times for 35 yards including a 21-yard touchdown run.
Getting his chance
If Hardy has slid in status, sophomore Allen Walker has certainly increased and leaves spring ball as a starter at outside linebacker.
He had two tackles Saturday, one a sack and one tackle for loss.
“I didn't get a lot of opportunities before. I was on the back burner,” Walker said. “Now we've got a new coaching staff, and they're giving me a chance to show what I can do.”
Walker was an All-American defensive back at Olive Branch when he signed for the 2006 season.
Nix liked what he saw in both of his outside linebackers Saturday. Ashlee Palmer, on the other side of Jonathan Cornell, had five tackles and a tackle for loss.
“I thought they both showed flashes of making plays,” Nix said. “When I took the job they said the linebackers were one of the weaknesses of the team. We took that as a challenge, and our kids have responded.”
– Parrish Alford