Sunday, August 24, 2008

UM players, coaches excited about opener

With the Memphis game creeping closer and closer, fans aren’t the only ones anxious to see the new-look Ole Miss Rebels.

New offensive coordinator Kent Austin said his quarterback is acting like he’d expect him to act leading up to his debut as a Rebel.

“He’s going to be excited and anxious all wrapped into one,” Austin said of Jevan Snead. “I’d be a little nervous if our quarterback wasn’t a little anxious. Jevan has that naturally. That’s the competitive side of him, and that’s a good thing.”

Since the spring, when Snead was handed yet another offensive scheme to learn, Austin said he’s seen Snead transform into a totally different quarterback.

“I think he has good command of the huddle,” Austin said. “I think he’s still thinking a little bit, but he’s come a long, long way since the spring. He’s a different guy than he was in the spring.”

Austin said both Billy Tapp and Nathan Stanley, Snead’s backups, have also progressed well.

“Billy is doing really well,” Austin said. “Billy is throwing the ball well right now, he’s accurate and he’s making great decisions.

“Nathan has the physical tools, but he doesn’t have the command of the offense from the understanding standpoint that Billy has.”

With the 2008 season right around the corner, Snead isn’t the only newcomer to the Ole Miss gridiron that’s getting excited.

New head coach Houston Nutt said he’s ready to get the season going.

“I’m looking forward to (the Memphis game), getting excited about it. You know it’s getting close and you want to make sure you’re hitting all the bases,” Nutt said. “I’m more excited. Since really about 1980, you get that feeling. The first alarm goes off in July when you know it’s getting close for two-a-days, then two-a-days get here, and then here comes another alarm, ‘hey, it’s game time. It’s time to start going to war.’”

Big things expected for TEs

When the 2007 season, if you had looked at the Rebels’ roster, you wouldn’t have seen any true tight ends. But through recruiting and changing positions, Nutt said he expects big things from his crop of tight ends.

“I’ve been really proud of Gerald Harris, David Traxler, and the two freshmen are going to be excellent,” Nutt said. “Ferbia Allen and E.J. Epperson are going to be very good. Reggie Hicks is really coming along. There’s a role for him. Hopefully they all stay healthy, we need them all.”

Trahan impresses again

When former Auburn-commit Patrick Trahan stepped onto the practice field for the first time at Ole Miss, he was noticeably out of shape and out of sync. Since then, however, he has made noticeable strides.

“(Trahan’s) another guy we’re expecting a great deal from,” Nutt said. “He’s come on, for not being here all summer, I’ve been really proud of his progress.

“Coach (Tyrone) Nix has really brought him a long way. Hopefully he’ll be ready to roll. He looks good.”

Injury update

Starting linebacker Jonathan Cornell, who was injured Wednesday during practice, is expected to be back out at practice today. Nutt said the California native had a strained calf.

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