Pace And Effort

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze asked for one thing in the team meeting prior to the first spring practice session Friday afternoon. "Give me all you've got," Freeze said. The Rebels responded. Read about it inside.





Freeze was not expecting miracles or perfection in the first spring practice session Friday on the practice fields under blue-sky conditions.

But he did expect all-out effort.

To that end, he was satisfied.

"I think we won the day. We are 1-for-1 right now," said Freeze. "In our team meeting today, we asked for great effort every day this spring and the kids gave us that today.

"We knew we were not going to be perfect, and we certainly weren't today - we had a lot of mistakes to clean up, but as far as attitude and effort, I was really happy considering we were putting in a new offense, new defense and new tempo while making it chaotic. They responded well."

Freeze used a period or two to introduce the offensive tempo the Rebels will employ next season. It's fastbreak football. Run a play and get lined up quickly to run the next one.

"Coach (Paul) Jackson had them ready from our offseason program to respond to the tempo. Give us great tempo is all I asked and I thought they handled the pace periods well," he continued. "We simulated some conditioning drills before spring break in our fourth quarter drills that matched what we are doing out here and I was pleased with the results of how they adjusted to the tempo. Now, you know we were just doing base stuff and they weren't having to think a lot."


Jamal Mosley
File Photo

Hugh was asked about the quarterbacks, but he said it's hard for him to get an evaluation from practice due to his nature.

"I'm a big picture guy at practice. We will grade things critically tonight and maybe I can give you a little more info on that tomorrow," he noted.

The Rebels are also working seven QBs - Barry Brunetti, Bo Wallace, Zack Stoudt, Randall Mackey, Evan Ingram, Maikhail Miller and Robert Ratliff - right now and trying to give all of them equal reps for the time being. An off-the-cuff eval in that environment would be difficult, but Freeze said "they all had some successful moments."

While the big picture is what Freeze sees, some things did stand out to him in the workout.

"I thought Philander Moore had a great day. He caught a lot of balls and finished plays. I also thought our defensive line did a nice job, but we didn't have pads on. They played with good pad level and seemed to be in the right gaps," he recalled. "Also, there was excitement when guys made plays. A pick or a fumble or a touchdown got good reactions from everyone. I also thought a couple of our backup tailbacks looked good at times and Jeff Scott had a pretty good day, I just have to stay on him to finish every play."

One thing crystal clear was the fun factor. The players seemed to be having a lot of it.

"I don't know if that guarantees us wins, but that's who we want to be," said Freeze. "I learned a long time ago, you have to be what you are. I tried to act differently about 10 years ago, thinking it might help me get somewhere in this profession, but that wasn't me.

"I gotta be me and part of me is having fun out here. I want the kids to have fun, laugh and enjoy being out here at practice. That's a priority for us."

Random Notes:

* Something very noticeable at a Freeze practice is the interaction with the players of everyone on the staff. Everyone with an Ole Miss shirt on is involved, either in coaching or encouraging, but they are all clearly into practice. "It doesn't matter to me if it's a strength coach, a GA or a ball boy, I want them involved and being vocal and part of practice. I don't just get daily reports from my assistants, I get daily practice reports from everyone. I want everyone involved and interacting with the team in their own way."


Aaron Morris
File Photo

* WR/CB Nick Brassell did not practice Friday. Freeze said earlier in the week that he would miss some days to make sure he was taking care of his academics. Today was one of those days.

* CB Senquez Golson, who was not on the travel squad this weekend to Alabama for the baseball series, was at practice but did not participate. He is expected to practice Saturday and Sunday.

* TE J.D. Krill from Saddleback JC in California was at practice today. Ole Miss is looking at him as a possible transfer, though no offer has been extended. He's still being evaluated. Brentwood, Tenn., CB/WR Jalen Ramsey was also at practice. Ramsey is rated a four-star prospect by Scout.com.

* There were no new injuries to report, but as expected, D.T. Shackelford, Keith Lewis, Taurus Ward, D.J. Bailey and Tim Simon did not participate. They will be out for the entire spring. . . . DT Gilbert Pena is wearing a club on his left hand, but he practiced.

* Something new: Music, mostly classic rock, is played on four JBL Studio speakers the entire practice, or at least it was Friday.

* While Freeze mentioned it briefly post-practice, it's worth a double take. There is no question the team was having fun Friday. Several players commented on that after practice and it was apparent in their enthusiasm during the workout.

* Being a trench guy, we thought it would be appropriate to list the first team, for now, offensive and defensive lines. On offense, LT Aaron Morris, LG Patrick Junen, C Evan Swindall, RG A.J. Hawkins, RT Pierce Burton. . . On defense, Bandit End Gerald Rivers, DTs Uriah Grant and Bryon Bennett and End Jason Jones.

* The Rebs will practice Saturday morning at 10:30. It will be open to the public.


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