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Fall Practice Notebook: Week 1

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian


Nutt loves his freshmen

The Ole Miss 2011 recruiting class arrived on campus with lofty expectations, and the freshmen did not disappoint in the Rebels’ first day of practice on Aug. 6. 

Head coach Houston Nutt was all smiles after the day’s practice.

“I love them,” Nutt said of the 2011 recruits on Aug. 6. “I love them more today than I did on signing day. We threw them right out there in the middle of it.”

Nutt said many of the newcomers may also be called on during their first season with the Rebels.

“We have done it before with one, two or three (players),” Nutt said. “We have never done it with this many. We have never done it with nine, 10 or 11.”

The freshmen made several big plays that brought applause from the fans in attendance. No applause was bigger than the one freshman two-way player Nickolas Brassell received after making an outstanding interception by jumping and then keeping his body inbounds before falling to the turf.

The newcomers on the defensive side also stood out the first day, Nutt said. After practice, Nutt said several recruits in the secondary had a great practice, including Senquez Golson, Cody Prewitt and Chief Brown. Freshman linebackers Keith Lewis, C.J. Johnson and Serderius Bryant also had a great practice.

Nutt thought the high skill level the freshmen class brought with them helped motivate some of the older players.

“It raised everybody’s level today,” Nutt said. “They know they better. They better because there are guys right there that don’t know the playbook quite yet, but they are coming.”


Defense shines early

The quarterback race dominated the conversation, but the defense dominated the play the first week of practice. 

“I thought they ran to the ball, caused a lot of turnovers today and it came in groves,” Nutt said on Aug. 7. “It seemed like interception after interception or fumble after fumble. By no means am I saying we are there or are we playing at an all-time level, but we got better today on defense.”

The secondary stood out in the second day of practice with three consecutive interceptions during 7-on-7 skeleton drills.

“They are showing a lot of speed and they are breaking on the ball with a lot of agility and athleticism,” Nutt said on Aug. 7.

It wasn’t just the secondary that stood out during week one of practice as the defensive line also showed out, particularly when the team moved to shoulder pads Aug. 8 and then full pads Aug. 10

“There is some intensity we are seeing at defense at times,” Nutt said on Aug. 8. “Not all of the time, but at times. 

“And I thought the defensive line moved around very well today. Wayne Dorsey, Jason Jones, Carlos Thompson and Gerald Rivers, I thought they all really showed up, and then Uriah Grant showed up in the middle. He is a strong force and is going to be able to help us.”


Rebels scrimmage for first time

The 2011 Ole Miss football team played its first scrimmage of fall camp Aug. 13 in front of approximately 2,000 fans at Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium.

After the scrimmage, Nutt said he was impressed with his team’s performance.

“I thought we had a good day,” Nutt said of the scrimmage. “It was so good to see Lockett out there — good to see him get some of the rust off. I thought that the offensive line did a really good job on a couple of series. I thought they executed really well.”

“They came after it,” Nutt said of the freshmen in the scrimmage. “I love their energy. I love what the freshmen bring to our team — they don’t act like freshmen.”

Senior defensive end Lockett finished with two tackles and an interception, which he returned to the 1-yard line before being brought down by sophomore quarterback Barry Brunetti.

The Rebels went into their first scrimmage still undecided at quarterback. Nutt was pleased with how the quarterbacks performed in their first scrimmage, but admitted that they had some work to do.

“Each one of the quarterbacks can do something a little different, which is good,” Nutt said.

Brunetti was 2-for-6 passing for 25 yards with an interception, junior Randall Mackey was 3-for-9 passing for 82 yards and junior Zack Stoudt started slow, but finished the day 3-for-9 passing for 41 yards, including a touchdown toss to freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief.