October 2, 2008

One play at a time key for Snead

Ole Miss offensive coordinator Kent Austin has pushed quarterback Jevan Snead hard since the first day of spring practice.

Now Austin wants to make sure that Snead doesn't overdo the whole pushing thing and push himself right into mistakes.

"Jevan is learning the most important thing to do is execute one play at a time," Austin said of Snead, who played a pretty clean game in Ole Miss' 31-30 win at then-No. 4 Florida this past Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. "That can be hard to do. Sometimes it's hard to forget and sometimes it's hard not to look forward. He played one play at a time in the second half against Florida. We did not have clock problems or offsides or any turnovers.

"When he manages the game, getting the guys out of the huddle, getting his signals right and sticking to his rules, he's a pretty good football player. He just needs to be more consistent in those areas and the Florida second half should help him in those areas. Jevan is very competitive. Sometimes he pushes too hard. He needs to learn to let the game come to him. That's just youth."

Snead will have his hands full this weekend going against a South Carolina defense that has been downright dominant through the first five games of the season. The Gamecocks (3-2 overall, 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference) are No. 4 in the SEC and No. 11 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 12.8 points per game. South Carolina leads the league in pass defense (105 yards per game) and total defense (221.4 yards per game).

"They are very sound, they have really good size, they don't take a play off, they run to the football and they are physical," Austin said. "They are also excellent tacklers. They are performing at a level where we better really execute well to have a chance against them.

"(South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson) coaches them very well. They are smart and don't give up a lot of big plays. You better be very well-prepared to play against them. They are another in a long line of great defenses in this conference with great personnel. Every defense in the SEC has excellent schemes and they all seem to play well together. You can't make a lot of mistakes or you won't win."

If the Gamecocks' defense has a weakness _ and that's a big if _ it's against the run. South Carolina is eighth in the league against the run, surrendering 116.4 yards per game. Ole Miss, thanks to the emerging production of tailbacks Cordera Eason and Brandon Bolden, is fourth in the SEC in rushing offense with 172 yards per game.

"They have been very unselfish and productive," Austin said. "That's a credit to them and their attitude. Neither have played a lot of football at this level and the only way to get better is to play and experience actual games. Both are making strides each week. I think you will continue to see both of them improve."

REBELS WRAP UP GAMECOCK PREP: Ole Miss went through a short workout in shorts and shirts under blue skies on Thursday in Oxford, putting polish on the gameplan for Saturday's game against South Carolina. Besides getting ready for the Gamecocks this week, the emphasis has been on making sure that complacency and overconfidence don't set in on the heels of the win over Florida, one that landed the cover of Sports Illustrated and a great deal of other media attention.

"I think we had a good week," Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. "Overall, we've had a good week. I get them for 3 hours a day and everybody else has them the rest of the time. And when you're in uncharted waters, that's what worries you, that's what concerns you. What all's being said to them? What all's been thrown down that system? The only thing I can go by is are they on time for the training room? Are they on time for the weight room? Are they going to school? Are they practicing hard? For the most part, we have been all week. Hopefully it's been good enough this week that we can go out and perform against a good team."

REBS FORCED INTO SECONDARY SHAKEUP: Nickel back Marcus Temple practiced a little on Thursday, but he's extremely doubtful for the South Carolina game. Fifth-year senior cornerback Dustin Mouzon will replace Temple.

"We're glad we moved those two wideouts over in the spring," Nutt said, referring to the conversion of Jeremy McGee and Marshay Green. "That's what's coming out. That was critical. With Dustin, Cassius (Vaughn), Marshay and McGee, those are our guys right now. (Mouzon) had a great week. He's been there the entire time."

USC COULD GET McKINLEY BACK SATURDAY: A few days ago, Steve Spurrier was talking about a medical redshirt for Kenny McKinley.

Days later, it's possible _ if not probable _ that the All-SEC wide receiver could see some playing time at Ole Miss on Saturday. McKinley hasn't played since injuring a hamstring early last month in the Gamecocks' loss at Vanderbilt.

"He's looking all right out there," South Carolina wide receiver Chris Hail, who estimated McKinley's hamstring at 90 percent, told The (Columbia, S.C.) State. "It's killing him (not to play). But he's making a good recovery, so he'll be back."

McKinley practiced for the second straight day Wednesday.

"Kenny was running around decently," Spurrier told reporters. "He's expected to play some. We'll see much as he goes. But he'll suit up and go play. He's cutting OK. He didn't do a lot. But what he did, he was OK."

McKinley needs eight catches and 299 receiving yards to pass Sterling Sharpe as the Gamecocks' all-time leader in both categories. Without McKinley, the Gamecocks' offense has struggled. South Carolina is eighth in the SEC in total offense with 342.4 yards per game and eighth in scoring offense with 21.4 points per game. Ole Miss, by contrast, is third in the league in total offense with 386.4 yards per game and sixth in the SEC in scoring offense 30.2 points per game.

"He's got to be full-go before he'll be real valuable," Spurrier said. "We don't need any decoys out there. We're not gonna blame our problems on Kenny not being there. We blame our problems on a little bit of all of us. We're trying to work our way out of it."

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