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November 16, 2010

Notes: Pair of freshmen defenders suspended

OXFORD, Miss. -- A pair of Ole Miss' top recruits from the 2010 signing class have been suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules, Houston Nutt said Tuesday.

Defensive end Delvin Jones and cornerback Tony Grimes were suspended Tuesday for "making bad freshman mistakes," Nutt said. "It's just bad."

Nutt didn't specify what the two Miami, Fla., natives did to merit suspension, though he hinted the action was related to their work in the classroom. Asked if he expected either player back with the program in January, Nutt said: "I'm going to see how it goes. They have to show me some effort in the classroom."

Jones had not played since Ole Miss' Oct. 2 win over Kentucky. He recorded one tackle in two games this season. Grimes, meanwhile, was listed as the No. 2 cornerback behind senior Jeremy McGee on the Rebels' depth chart. Grimes played in nine games _ starting one _ and recorded 15 tackles and two pass break-ups.

With Grimes out of the rotation, Ole Miss (4-6 overall, 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference) will head to No. 5 LSU (9-1, 5-1) with McGee, Temple, freshman Charles Sawyer and converted safety Frank Crawford as available cornerbacks.

Earlier this season, freshman linebacker Clarence Jackson was arrested on campus for allegedly being in possession of a television stolen from a classroom in Hume Hall.

Nutt said Jackson is "doing much better in class and getting some counseling and different things. He's doing good. He has to lift on his own and things like that, but he's doing good."

NIX PREDICTS STRONG OUTING FROM REBELS' DEFENSE: Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix didn't use the wave of attrition and injuries that has hit his unit as an excuse heading into Saturday's game in Baton Rouge. Instead, he said the Rebels were "going to battle."

"We're going to be better next time we go out," Nix said. "I can promise you that. We're going to play with a whole lot more passion and a whole lot better effort. We're going to make the plays. The plays are going to start going our way. So if you want to quote it, put it down that we're going to make the plays on Saturday."

Nix praised his unit's attitude, adding that the Rebels' defense "worked harder (Tuesday) than maybe we have all year. …We have some guys who compete and who can handle adversity. Because this is about as bad as it can get and as bad as it's been and they're still fighting."

MASOLI EAGER FOR TIGER STADIUM EXPERIENCE: Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli said Tuesday he's heard "some crazy stories" about Tiger Stadium, adding that he's been told LSU's home is a "no-joke, pretty hostile environment."

Still, the former Oregon quarterback said he looks forward to games such as Saturday's.

"It fires you up, man," Masoli said. "If you're any kind of competitor, it definitely fires you up to play in not only one of the best places but also against a ranked team and you have a shot at them."

Masoli said LSU's defense has been quite impressive during film study. Masoli had praise for LSU's defensive tackles, but it was clear that All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson stood out on the screen.

"They don't really have too many weaknesses that we can exploit," Masoli said, "but we're going to have to execute."

LOCKETT SET TO RETURN?: Nutt said Tuesday he has discussed requesting an NCAA medical hardship waiver for senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett, who tore his ACL in the Rebels' Sept. 25 win over Fresno State. Lockett, who did not play in Ole Miss' season-opening loss to Jacksonville State, would be eligible for the waiver.

"I think we're in good shape for the Ole Miss Rebels," Nutt said. "I think we're in good shape with him."

Nutt said that while he hasn't had much experience with such waiver requests, he believed the NCAA would grant it.

REBEL RUMBLINGS: While Lawon Scott (ankle) is lost for the season, a trio of players injured at Tennessee Saturday were back on the practice field. Sawyer (knee) went through all drills, though he was not at full speed, Nutt said. Wide receivers Ja-Mes Logan (ankle) and Jesse Grandy (shoulder) were in full pads but working in a limited capacity. Grandy was unable to go through the full two-hour practice. …With Scott out, junior Justin Smith will move into the playing rotation. LaMark Armour will move back to defensive tackle, moving freshman Cameron Whigham to starting defensive end. …Nix said defensive end Gerald Rivers (ankle) is "showing some flashes" and is "better than he was a week ago," adding that Rivers might get some spot play at LSU.

A day after delivering an impassioned speech during his Monday press conference, Nutt said he is preaching to his team that he wants them to keep their heads up. "We still have two very important ballgames left, starting with LSU, so hey, get up, attack practice and have an attitude," Nutt said. "This is why football is one of the greatest teachers there is. You find out about your character now. …They responded really good."

LSU SEEKING REVENGE: LSU is seeking revenge this season, one opponent at a time.

The Tigers have already avenged 2009 losses to Florida and Alabama. Only Ole Miss remains, and the Tigers aren't shying away from expressing their interest in exacting some form of payback.

"We talked about beating these three teams before the season started," linebacker Kelvin Sheppard told TigerBait.com. "You don't want to lose to teams in consecutive years. Of course, we talk about winning against every team we play."

Two years ago, Ole Miss totally controlled the game and posted a 31-13 victory against LSU in Tiger Stadium. Last year, clock mismanagement prevented LSU from staging a fourth-quarter rally in Oxford. The Rebels escaped with a 25-23 victory.

One player on the Tigers roster has suffered more than anyone with the results of the past two games against Ole Miss. Stevan Ridley's leading rusher comes from Natchez, Miss.

"The last two years have been tough for me," Ridley said. "As a player, I want this one more than anybody. I come from Natchez. There are a few Mississippi State fans there. It's mostly LSU people if you're not for Ole Miss.

"This is a big game for Ole Miss. They circle the LSU game like we do for Auburn and Alabama. I'm looking forward to this game. It will be a lot of fun. I have a lot of friends on their team.

"My closest friends go to Ole Miss. Before last year, I told them they weren't going to beat us gain. Then, they upset us again. Ole Miss always plays strong football. They play hard football. Coach Nutt is an awesome coach. We have to make sure it doesn't happen a third year."

Last year's loss to the Rebels probably stirs up more emotion in LSU fans than the 18-point defeat in 2008. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson referred once again Monday to those final seconds as "a lot of chaos going on." Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale still recalls what happened on that last drive.

"That loss to Ole Miss last year bothered me a lot," Barksdale said. "I definitely haven't forgotten about it. I saw some film from last year's game and some of the mistakes we made. We worked a lot on clock management drills after last year's game. I do not look ahead to teams, but now Ole Miss is here."

TIGERS STILL DREAMING BIG: During the first quarter of the Tigers' 51-0 victory against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night, their SEC title hopes ended. Auburn clinched the Western Division crown with a 49-31 victory against Georgia. So, LSU can simply try to win 11 regular-season games and earn a BCS bowl berth.

"Up to now, we've had a very good year," Sheppard told TigerBait.com. "We are 9-1. There are no heads down. This is different from 2007. That year, there was not another team in our division undefeated. This year Auburn is undefeated and they deserve the title.

"If we go 11-1, that's better than 10-2 like three years ago. Other things didn't happen like they did in 2007. We're moving forward and trying to finish 11-1. That's something LSU mostly needs since it is coming off two seasons when it was not in a BCS bowl."

Some Tiger fans are holding out hope that LSU can still reach the national title game. The Tigers, ranked No. 5 in the BCS, would need a lot of upsets to occur for them to be realistic contenders for the national championship game. Not being the SEC champion will hurt LSU's chances with the voters.

"The national championship is in the back of our minds," Barksdale said. "I like to stay optimistic. I like to keep hope that something will happen like in 2007. But, if we don't win this week, we won't win anything."

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