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Preparation key for Rebs against ULM

By By Joey Vaughn / special to The Star
Aug. 29, 2002
OXFORD The final week of preparation for the 2002 season is at hand for Ole Miss, and the Rebels will use it more to concentrate on themselves than Louisiana-Monroe.
Practice has involved ULM's offensive and defensive sets for the last week, so David Cutcliffe isn't looking past the Indians. He just needs to get his starters healthy again after an injury-riddled camp.
That means the return of receivers Chris Collins and Jason Armstead, two of the best Rebel offensive threats. Also back on the field will be linebackers Justin Wade and Rob Robertson, who have been out for some time.
Cutcliffe said he was ripe with anticipation of the new season, especially after fall-like temperatures visited the Oxford campus on recent evenings. The Ole Miss ticket office announced Monday that over 54,000 tickets had been sold and the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium record attendance is expected to be broken Saturday.
Fullback Shuffle
Cutcliffe announced Monday that Rick Razzano will start at fullback against ULM, not senior Toward Sanford.
Robert Williams, as expected, will start at tailback, but Razzano's impressive performance in the preseason and some missed practice time by Sanford combined to tip the starting nod to Razzano.
But the Rebs will field a constant rotation at both running back spots, with Tremaine Turner, Ronald McClendon and Vashon Pearson expected to split time at tailback, Cutcliffe said.
New look Eli
Expectations are high for Eli Manning after his record-setting sophomore season, and the offseason workout regimen has bulked the quarterback up with about 10 pounds of muscle.
ULM has had problems with pass defense recently, but Manning will be hard-pressed to outdo last season's debut, when he completed 18 consecutive passes and threw five touchdowns.