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August 28, 2008The script is written.
All that's left is putting the plan into action.
From the selection of team captains to the plays that will likely be run in every possible down-and-distance scenario, Ole Miss' season-opener Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (6 p.m.) against Memphis has basically been planned.
"I'll call plays, but it's been worked out," Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Thursday after putting his team through a 1-hour, 30-minute practice in shorts and jerseys. "A lot of it is (scripted). There's been a lot of work, a lot of study. You can go down the line and ask anybody, 'What's your first call on third-and-8 and I'll reel it off to you. Sometimes play-calling is a little overrated, but I'll actually call the plays."
Nutt said Ole Miss' permanent captains this season, as elected by a team vote Sunday night, will be fullback Jason Cook, strong safety Jamarca Sanford, offensive tackle Michael Oher and defensive tackle Peria Jerry. Outside linebacker Ashlee Palmer will step in for Jerry Saturday, since the big man from Batesville, Miss., is out with a knee injury.
As for Thursday's work, Nutt seemed to be quite pleased.
"It was a good Thursday," Nutt said. "We put a lot of emphasis on concentration. We took the pads off. We were very, very good. We were very sharp."
For the first time, Nutt confirmed that offensive guard Reid Neely, defensive tackle Ted Laurent and outside linebacker Allen Walker, all of whom were injured and missed time during fall camp, will be on the field against Memphis Saturday and playing big roles.
"They're ready," Nutt said. "We're going to play them. I don't know if they're 100 percent, but they're close enough."
FAMILY FEELING FOR REBS: Senior tight end David Traxler said the Rebels' four weeks of practice in August have left him feeling optimistic about Ole Miss' chances this fall.
"It's been good," Traxler said. "It's nothing like we've ever gone through. The team's come together better than it has since I've been here and I've been here five years. We had a meeting and dedicated ourselves. I couldn't be happier than I am coming into the season with this team.
"We're hungry. All we want to do is win. He's allowed us to get in position to do it and that's all we want to do."
As for the use of the tight end in Nutt and Kent Austin's offense, Traxler said he and junior college transfer Gerald Harris are prepared for anything.
"We just try to do whatever we're asked to do," Traxler said. "We're on the line and in the trenches with the O-line. Hopefully, we'll get thrown some balls but we're here and all we want to do is win. If that means blocking the defensive end every single play, then we'll do it."
REBEL RAMBLINGS: Nutt said Jerry is "getting in the water now and running on that machine we have. He and Greg Hardy both are doing really good in rehab, so I'll put my mind to that next week." Nutt's comments come one day after Jerry told an Indianapolis Colts scout that he planned to be back on the field for next Saturday's game at Wake Forest. Backup quarterback Billy Tapp is sporting a moustache these days. The upper-lip hair is still in fairly new, but if the Rebels go on a winning streak, it could rival the one Jason Giambi sported in New York for the Yankees this fall. Tapp said he won't shave it until Ole Miss loses a game.