Strong's Status Remains Uncertain; Cutcliffe Pleased With Mississippi's Performance

Linebacker Eddie Strong is listed as day-to-day and it is uncertain whether he will play against Memphis on Saturday, Mississippi coach David Cutcliffe said. Strong is nursing an ankle injury that has recently kept him out of practice. He missed this past weekend's game against Louisiana-Monroe.

"We're leaning toward the doubtful side right now as far as playing him this Saturday against Memphis,'' Cutcliffe said Monday at his weekly news conference. "We'll look at the progress he's made through the weekend. He won't do anything outside (at practice) until we feel like he's ready.''

Playing in front of a record-breaking crowd at newly expanded Vaught-Hemingway stadium, the Rebels won their seventh straight opener 33-3 over Louisiana-Monroe.

Quarterback Eli Manning started the game 0-for-5 with an interception and took a while to find his mark. The junior finished 17-for-31 for 192 yards, but he often missed his receivers. At one point in the third quarter he threw seven straight incompletions.

Cutcliffe said he's not worried about Manning and his receivers bouncing back from the poor performance.

"Offensively, we played extremely physical,'' Cutcliffe said. "The one thing we didn't do was throw and catch very well, but we will do that better. There are a lot of things to build on.''

Cutcliffe said the one thing that he was most pleased with was "we did a great job of keeping them out of the end zone on defense and they only had three plays that gained 15 yards or more.''

Strong, however, is not the only Rebel injured. Receivers Mario Hill and Jason Armstead and fullback Toward Sanford are also nursing injuries. Armstead aggravated an ankle injury during the first half of the Louisiana-Monroe game.

Despite the bumps and bruises, Cutcliffe said he was pleased that 55 players was able to play in the opener.

"It's a big plus for us to have played that many people because we're going to have to play a lot this year,'' Cutcliffe said. "We had a lot of young guys get a lot of quality time and that gave us something to evaluate from an individual standpoint. From a scheme standpoint, we learned a lot about ourselves.''