A Little Lull

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze didn't pull any punches. While not "awful," Tuesday's practice, overall, was not what Freeze ordered up.

The attitude was good.

Some of the execution was fine.

But Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze saw a lull in the middle of Tuesday's practice - the Rebs' fourth of the spring session and another in full pads - that didn't sit well with him.

"I'm disappointed. I didn't think the attitude was bad - they were coachable, but the effort, at times, was halfhearted. We coasted through too much," said Freeze. "We are asking a lot of them with weights and academics, but we expect more than we got today.

"I think we (the players) kind of made our minds up to come out and coast a little and we are not in the situation where we can coast through anything in our program. I take the blame on this one. Again, the attitude was not bad, but they didn't respond to some of the early team and pace periods. They buckled a little bit. We did pick it back up late in the practice in the team stuff. The defense won first down again, the offense won third and short, which they should."

Uriah Grant
Chuck Rounsaville

So how does a coach combat such lulls? Easy, call a spade a spade.

"I called them on it after practice and we'll point it out on film tomorrow. If it comes to it, we will stop practice Thursday if we have to and get it right," he explained. "We won't go through two days of that in a row.

"I never expect days like this. If you do, your expectations are going in the wrong direction. We are who we are right now, however, and in reality, we are still changing the way things are attacked here. This is a grind and we need to learn how to grind. We have to develop mental toughness that doesn't allow these kinds of days and develop some leaders who call out the ones dragging. We are not there yet."

Freeze has had a couple of days to look at the running game in full pads. Where is it right now?

"Very inconsistent. We had some good plays, and broke a few long ones. Jeff Scott broke a little draw for a TD and Devin Thomas had a couple of good runs, but we aren't consistent right now," he noted. "Some of it is the O-line, some of it the backs, some of it is the snaps are off a little and that can throw your timing off in our kind of offense."

All eyes are on the quarterback and a daily update is expected. Here's today's:

"Early on, we couldn't complete a pass, but as the practice wore on, we got better. Barry Brunetti threw some good balls and made some good plays scrambling, as did Bo Wallace," Greese assessed. "We are still very inconsistent there too."

Random Notes:

* OL Coach Matt Luke shook things up a bit today, moving Patrick Junen, who had been playing left guard, out of the top unit, sliding Aaron Morris from left tackle to left guard and elevating Emmanuel McCray from backup right tackle to number one left tackle. "We are looking for the best five," said Freeze. "We had planned to use Aaron at both all along. If Emmanuel stays healthy, we feel he is a kid who can help us. Aaron was swimming a little bit today. At the end of practice thought, he started clicking better."

Emmanuel McCray
Chuck Rounsaville

* Still on the OL, Freeze said they will be the last to "get it." "They are used to a system where you identify every front and everything is moving at a slower pace. This pace is so new to them that they will be the last to pick it up," he noted. "I get that, but that doesn't excuse not playing with great effort, playing with low pads, etc. If you are making a mistake, do it at 100 miles an hour. I don't get too hung up on mental mistakes from them right now, but I do get hung up on not playing physical and fast."

* DT Bryon Bennett was in a boot today with a high ankle sprain. He is listed as day-to-day. . . MLB Mike Marry dressed out Tuesday but did not practice much. He has a pulled hamstring and is being help out as a precaution. "If we push him now and he gets hurt worse, he'll be out the whole spring. We are being careful with him," said Freeze. . . DE C.J. Johnson hurt his hand Sunday and was in a club today, but he participated in all drills and contact work. "He's got some ligament damage, but he can practice," Hugh noted. "There's nothing broken, so that's a good thing."

* Right now, Brishen Mathews is leading the pack at the Husky slot. "We are very pleased with the way Brishen is playing right now," said Freeze. "That position takes a special kid, a really athletic, tough kid who can be a run-stopper and cover people in space. So far, he's doing well."

* Former baseball player Jimel Judon had been playing offensive tackle until today. He was switched over to defensive tackle for the time being. The plan is to use him on both sides of the ball until it's determined where he fits the best.

* Nick Brassell didn't practice again Tuesday. "We planned to have him out some today, but he had a little setback. We're going to be consistent with what we say. If we say something, we mean it and there is no grey area," said Hugh. "He's got a couple of assignments today and if he gets those right, we may see him this week out here."

* It seemed like old home week at practice Tuesday. Reid Neely, Jamarca Sanford, Michael Oher, Jerrell Powe, Darryl Harris, Romaro Miller, Lamark Armour, Jake Gibbs, John Darnell and Ronnie Heard were all at practice. And, last, but not least, Grant Heard, Deuce McAllister and Derrick Burgess are on the coaching staff. Lots of familiar faces brought back a lot of good memories.

* LB Coach Tom Allen had all his teeth today after getting two knocked out last Saturday breaking up a fight. "I still have to go through some surgery to remove one that was broken off and do an implant, but I'm going to be fine," he said. Allen has missed no practice time despite being in some obvious pain with exposed nerves of one tooth.

* The foundation for the OL, thus far, appears to be Morris, A.J. Hawkins and Pierce Burton. Those three seem to be givens. Where will the other two starters come from? So far, Evan Swindall is holding on to the center slot and McCray and Junen are likely candidates for the fifth spot.

* 4-star QB recruit Jeremy Johnson from Carver HS in Montgomery, AL, was at practice Tuesday.

* Word spread through practice that possible transfer QB Danny O'Brien has cancelled his scheduled visit to Florida and has narrowed his list to Penn State, Wisconsin and Ole Miss.

* TB Nick Parker still is not where he needs to be, but losing 20 pounds and gaining a new perspective on things has helped him improve quite a bit and has put him in the picture to play next year. "There is light at the end of the tunnel," said RB Coach Derrick Nix.

* The number two offensive line, today, consisted of LT Mitch Hall, LG Justin Bell, Center Chase Hughes, RG Jared Duke and RT Junen.

* The usual suspects from last were returning punts Tuesday, plus one. Jeff Scott, Philander Moore and Korvic Neat worked there last year. This year, it appears the coaches have asked WR Ja-Mes Logan to field some punts as well.

* Tuesday, the number one defense was: Bandit Gerald Rivers, DT Uriah Grant, DT Carlton Martin (Bennett was out), End Jason Jones, MLB Ralph Williams (Marry was out), OLB Joel Kight, Husky Brishen Mathews, Rover Cody Prewitt, Free Safety Denzel Nkemdiche/Aaron Garbutt and Corners Charles Sawyer and Wesley Pendleton.

* Backup Rover Tanner Burns had a pick in pace period drills. . . backup DE Carlos Thompson knocked down a pass after an effective pass rush and Rivers recorded a sack. The defense ruled the day in the pace period.

* Late in the practice, the offense had several positive plays, but the defense also made a couple of good plays. Brunetti hit Logan for gains of 10 and 40 yards, Wallace hit Donte Moncrief for a 10-yard gain and Logan for 12 more; Rivers had a sack and Prewitt had an interception.

* The Rebs will resume practice Thursday.

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