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Ole Miss Wednesday Practice Report: Sanders, Phillips Game Time Decisons

Ole Miss is winding down its preparation for Vanderbilt as the Rebels prepare of a pair of games in 10 days to close the 2017 season. Head Coach Matt Luke updated the injuries, discussed Vanderbilt’s offense and more following Wednesday’s practice.

Phillips, Sanders held out of practice:

Wide receiver Braylon Sanders and running back Scottie Phillips did not practice for the second consecutive day. Sanders suffered a sprained ankle in the loss to South Carolina two weeks ago and Phillips also suffered an ankle sprain in last Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M. Both will be game time decisions.

Phillips seems to be a bit of a long shot to be ready seven days after an ankle sprain and the Egg Bowl seems like a more reasonable point of return.

“He will be a game time decision,” Luke said. “As far as carrying the ball, he will know what to do. He will be out there (in practice) during the team periods for third down stuff, but we want to rest him as much as we can.”

Sanders is a bit more surprising as Luke seemed confident earlier in the week that Ole Miss would have Sanders against Vanderbilt on Saturday night. Sanders went through warm ups against Texas A&M, but was unable to push off on the ankle when running routes and was ruled out shortly before the game.

Isaiah Woullard will become the bell cow if Phillips is unable to play.

Other injury notes:

Markel Winters practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Luke said Winters will likely be able to play some snaps against Vanderbilt. Winters’ presence would be a significant boost for an Ole Miss defense that has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush on the edge. 

— D’Vaughn Pennamon continues to rehab a knee injury he suffered in the second to last game of the 2017 season against Texas A&M. Pennamon will not play this year, though his rehab is going well according to running backs coach Derrick Nix.

Facing the Vanderbilt offense:

Vanderbilt plays at a slow, methodical pace on offense. The Commodores have a veteran quarterback in Kyle Shurmur and a nice feature back in Ke’Shawn Wells, who is an explosive back that has found his stride in recent weeks. Wells has 113 carries for 849 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He only has nine receptions on the year, but is capable catching the football out of the backfield.

“You can tell he is a physical back, but he runs away from people well too,” Luke said. “That is what you see is some big runs. Not only is he big and strong, but he can run away you too. They feature him well too. They get him the ball in a lot of different ways.”

Shurmur is a senior who has started for three seasons and has thrown 17 touchdowns to five interceptions this season. Shurmur has played a lot of games in the SEC and has a keen understanding of Vanderbilt’s offense and what they want to do.

“He gets them lined up in the right place and calling the checks and seeing the pressures,” Luke said. “All of the things veteran quarterbacks do is what he does well. We have to be sound and try to get pressure on him, get him out of his comfort zone. I think that will be huge.”

Cooley discusses shedding weight, finally  seeing on-field success:

Octavious Cooley has finally seen the on-field success he’s longed for through the first three years of his Ole Miss career. Cooley has battled weight issues, keeping weight off mainly. The junior tight end dropped from 290 pounds to 265 pounds. It has freed up his range of motion and helped him create separation when running routes.

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