Receivers Shine

The second day of spring football practice resulted in a progression that pleased Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze. The group that stood out the most, and almost made him giddy, was the wide receivers.

The second day of spring training, also in helmets and shorts per NCAA requirements, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was looking for the same type of effort day one produced and some progress in execution.

He got both, he said, after Saturday's 2 1/2 hour practice on a sun-kissed spring day in Oxford.

The area that pleased him most, however, was wide receiver.

"We made progress, no doubt, particularly with the wide receivers," said Freeze. "The mental busts from yesterday were corrected. I met with Coach (Grant) Heard and those guys last night and again this morning and challenged them to correct their mistakes.

"I really thought they improved from day one to day two, they had some swagger to them and we completed some long balls, which always helps. Ja-Mes Logan and Terrell Grant improved the most from day one to day two. They were really good."

Hugh also liked the way things went in team run drills.

"It's hard to tell everything without pads on, but I thought we had some good execution on some run plays that would have been positive plays," he elaborated. "We are swimming a little bit up front right now because the defensive staff is showing a lot stuff right now. It's not easy for an offensive lineman to come into a new system, hear what's going on, snap it in a hurry and handle everything Coach (Dave) Wommack is throwing at them.

Jeff Scott
File Photo

"I understand that though. (OL) Coach (Matt) Luke wants perfection, and he will get that, but I understand why they are swimming a little bit right now."

Luke is trying Aaron Morris at left tackle and JUCO transfer Pierce Burton at right tackle - new positions for both.

"They have shown some athleticism and they will battle. (Right guard) A.J. Hawkins also looked good. Those three showed a lot of ability these two days and I am pleased with them so far," he stated.

During the practice, MLB Mike Marry and Burton got into an altercation. Freeze stopped practice after it was broken up and gave his guidelines for when that happens, and it is going to happen in football.

"I loved it happening because that's a great teaching moment. Both of them were playing hard and when we play next year, we want those two guys in there with us," he explained. "We just have to remember we are teammates. I have never been around teams worth their salt that those things didn't happen every once in a while.

"I do not want it to go too far, with helmets coming off and such, and I want them to know when my whistle blows and Paul Jackson gets in there to break it up, it's over. I want them energetic, I want them passionate. We are running around acting crazy and getting them pumped up and getting their adrenaline going, it happens."

"Everyone" wants to know about the progress of the quarterbacks - more from OC/QB Coach Dan Werner in another story today, but Freeze had some thoughts on the matter as well.

"I thought they looked better today as a group. I thought we made better reads and Barry Brunetti and Randall Mackey did well on teh QB read run stuff. I thought Bo (Wallace) threw some really nice balls. All of them made a few throws, but he was probably the most productive throwing the ball."

Sunday, the Rebels put on the pads and more will be revealed.

"We will find out if some of those inside runs are really positive plays. You find out the truth with pads on," Hugh smiled. "We'll have a Rebel drill that is very energetic and physical. We want to test their toughness. Due to NCAA rules, we can only have full tackling 50% of the time, but there will be plenty of high octane drills. We are anxious to see how they respond."

Random Notes:

* Senior OL Matt Hall is dressed out for practice but is not going through any of the team drills. "He has some issues to take care of off the field before we feel we can count on him for next fall," Hugh responded. "We are going through those with him and his family right now. He's a great kid, but we don't know if those things are going to work out or not."

* An interesting case study this spring is going to be how OL Jimel Judon adapts to football after playing football his whole athletic career. "He has never played football and we will see what he brings when we put the pads on. I know he's athletic, but how quickly can he catch on," Freeze noted. "We are anxious to see what he can do. I'm sure it's going to be a process, but he's willing to give it a go."

* CB Senquez Golson, who did not travel with the baseball team to Alabama, was at practice but did not participate. WR Nick Brassell, expected to practice over the weekend, did not work out. "Senquez is going to meetings and watching things, but I need to find out how important he is to the baseball team before deciding to practice him," said Freeze. "I want the baseball team to succeed. Mike (Bianco) and I talk about it a lot. I do not want to detract from the baseball team by practicing Senquez in football when he is a big part of the baseball team. With Nick, I have just decided not to bring him out here this weekend. His priority right now is the classroom, so we are putting him on hold right now."

Donte Moncrief
File Photo

* Signee TB I'Tavius Mathers attended practice today with his younger brother and dad. I'Tavius said he will be ready to enroll in June for both semesters of summer school.

* The starting WRs today were Donte Moncrief and Logan out wide and Philander Moore and Collins Moore splitting time at with the ones at the slot. In pass "skelly," Brunetti hit Collins Moore for a 65-yard TD, Korvic Neat made a couple of acrobatic catches for 25-30 yard gains, Logan caught a 65-yarder from Mackey and Wallace connected with both Moores for big gainers.

* Also in skelly, the defense had a couple of good moments. Marry intercepted a pass as did CB Charles Sawyer.

* It's pretty cool to see two former NFL All-Pro players out there working with the team. Deuce McAllister and Derrick Burgess are in the middle of things with the RBs and DL, respectively. When they talk, guys listen, as they should.

* It appears redshirt freshman Husky Denzel Nkemdiche is getting an early jump on being number one at that slot. He's in a battle with Brishen Mathews, and both are doing well, but Denzel, who was not a factor last year due to injuries and being redshirted, seems to be coming alive and showing some good production at the Husky slot. Husky is a combo of safety and linebacker and Denzel has the body type for the position.

* When asked what the spring goals are for the kickers and DS Will Denny, Freeze outlined what he would like to see. "We want (Punter) Tyler (Campbell to work on his directional kicks and his pooch punting," said Freeze. "(PK) Bryson (Rose) just needs to stay consistent and keep his flexibility. (KO) Andrew (Ritter) is working on his strength and consistency.The kickoff is from the 35 this year and we expect a high percentage of touchbacks from him. With Will, he is going to work on reading the field better to help his coverage skills. He's the guy who has to help force the return man to one side or the other and he has to be able to read the play on the fly."

* The Rebels will be in full pads Sunday for the first time this spring. The practice session is closed to the public.

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