April 4, 2008

Snead making big strides in Rebels' offense

Former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges was at Ole Miss' practice Friday afternoon inside the Rebels' indoor practice field.

Borges, who is taking a year away from coaching, was checking out the Rebels' offense, but his gaze frequently locked in on Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead.

Borges picked a good day to watch the Rebels, as Snead had probably his best day of spring camp.

"Jevan is making decisions," Ole Miss coach Houston Nuttsaid, "so much quicker and so much better. He's always been good at the (shotgun), but under the center, which he doesn't done much of, he's had to make the most improvement. He's done that. He's improved in the three-step game, the play-action game, but he is making quicker decisions and not forcing.

"Anytime you get a quarterback with a strong arm, they all think they can throw it through a keyhole. They don't ever mean to throw interceptions, but Jevan's done a good job of throwing it to our guys and not force it. That's the hardest thing for a strong-armed guy."

Snead admitted that his "mental light" had begun to burn brighter in the past week, just as offensive coordinator Kent Austin told him it would.

"I'm 100 times more comfortable," Snead said. "At the first of spring, we were still introducing and it was kind of overwhelming. Now everything's starting to sink in and defense is starting to slow down. I'm thinking less and going off instincts off what I see. It's very encouraging. We have a lot of stuff in right now, but we don't have near what we're going to have in."

Snead played out of the shotgun in high school, but he's getting comfortable taking the snap from under the center and dropping back.

"I'm getting more and more comfortable," Snead said. "It's a process, but I'm working on it."

Snead's progress, combined with Ole Miss' bevy of talented wide receivers, has Snead excited about the Rebels' offensive possibilities.

"The sky's the limit," Snead said. "It's whatever we want to do and whatever we put our minds to. Our offensive line is doing great. They're big time. I'm going to have a lot of time back there to pick defenses apart and get the ball to all my receivers, so it's going to be big. There's no telling what we can do, really."

NUTT ASKS FOR, RECEIVES INTENSITY: Nutt said he emphasized intensity and effort prior to Friday's practice, and he left the practice field quite pleased with what he got.

"The guys have been giving it to us and that's what you appreciate," Nutt said. "They're hungry. We just have to keep going and we just have to keep getting better. I know it sounds cliché and it's getting old, but it's just the truth. We have a ways to go and we have to continue to work to get better.

"A lot of times our guys go through a period where they're going through the motion, and that's not how you play this game. You have to play with both chinstraps buttoned and you have to play with such a passion and intensity. It's the only way you can win in the SEC. I thought they really raised it up in the middle drill, and when you ask them to do something, that's when you appreciate it.

Scrimmage big for new corners: Nutt said the Rebels will go through a 100-play scrimmage, easily the most intensive session of the spring, Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"I'm looking hard at the corners," Nutt said. "(Jeremy) McGee, Marshay (Green). I'm looking at everybody, of course, but I'll really be focusing in on that. Guys like Fon Ingram, (Lamar) Brumfield, there are some guys _ Justin Sanders _ I'm looking for those guys and how they're going to respond. We won't go very long in individual drills. We're just going to put the ball down and play."

Butter fingers:Running back Cordera Eason got scolded earlier this week for fumbling in team drills. Eason's had a big week of practice, but he fumbled again Friday, creating more consternation for Nutt and running backs coach Derrick Nix.

"The last few days we've noticed he's switching arms in the middle of traffic," Nutt said. "You can't do that. That ball has to be locked until you get out of traffic then you can switch to the sideline you're running to. He's been real concerned with the ball and I like that."

Hardy moves up: Defensive end Greg Hardy was working with the starting defense Friday, marking the first time this spring that the junior from Millington, Tenn., has spent most of a spring practice with the No. 1s.
"We're cautiously optimistic," Nutt said. "He's coming on and we just want to make sure he stays steady. He's one that's been up and down. We want to keep him very consistent. He's headed in the right direction. We want to see consistency.

REBEL RUMBLINGS: Ole Miss spent quite a bit of Friday's practice working on draws, screens and delays. "That's a timing thing," Nutt said. "It's getting better." …Strong safety Jamarca Sanford was back Friday. Sanford tweaked a hamstring Wednesday. …Offensive tackle John Jerry was held out again Friday. Jerry has been bothered by an infection and another injury for the past week. …Jeremy McGee had one of the top plays of the session with an interception. …Linebacker Isaiah Smith had a tackle for loss on the final play of Friday's team session.


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