'Much Better"

After Tuesday's lackluster practice, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze vowed the Rebs would not have two less than stellar workouts in a row. Thursday, the Rebels responded to those demands and turned in a practice that drew praise from Freeze.

"I couldn't be more pleased from the way they bounced back from what I thought was a halfhearted effort Tuesday," said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze after Thursday's practice on yet another beautiful day in Oxford. "We told them in the team meeting today that it is time they expect more of themselves.

"It's not OK to not give great effort. They gave us great effort today and the offense finally competed a little bit. It the team comp period, the defense won 16-15, on a turnover, but the offense competed. We had too many balls on the ground and things like that, but the effort was there and the competitive nature was there."

Freeze has been waiting - patiently - for the light to come on some for the offense. Patience has its rewards.

"Offense is my background, so I take it personally when we don't have success, but I know what we are doing now is so different for them and I know we have to be patient," he explained. "Our terminology, the way we call things, the defense moving so much, the coaches are flying around, the music is blaring - it's difficult on offense right now.

Sawyer moved to Safety
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"It's very rewarding when they have some good, positive plays. We had a couple of third-and-long conversions which was something we would no have thought about getting two days ago."

WR Donte Moncrief showed up more Thursday than he has been and he and several of the wideouts seem to be making strides.

"Donte is a special player. He's a leader of that group and we have to find ways to get him the ball and utilize his skills," Hugh continued. "He just goes about his work quietly and gets the job done. I'm very pleased with him and a couple of more of the wideouts are starting to make strides. Grant (Heard) will get those guys going and today was a good boost for them to have some more success and see things clock a little."

Tuesday, there was a minor shakeup in the offensive line, as we reported, with Emmanuel McCray moving to number one left tackle and Aaron Morris sliding inside to left guard.

"That has definitely helped our run game. We still have so many things to learn in our pass protection, but some of it is not their fault. The QB may be setting the protection the wrong way or the backs didn't get the call - all those things are new," he stated. "The OL in the run game, though, has definitely been better."

On the defensive front, Freeze said Coach Chris Kiffin is fairly pleased with the inside guys.

"Chris thinks the inside guys are making some strides, but we have to generate more pass rush from the outside guys," Freeze assessed.

Random Notes:

* Husky Brishen Mathews went out late in practice, but it turned out to be nothing more than cramps. He should be fine for Friday's scrimmage.

* Bandit Gerald Rivers was not at practice Thursday. His Grandmother passed away and he flew home to be with his family.

Garbutt switched to LB
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* Charles Sawyer started out the year at cornerback, but has already been moved back inside to safety. "We needed to get more athletic there," said DC Dave Wommack. "We are going to get our best 11 on the field and right now, we feel we need help at safety. That leaves us short at cornerback, but we feel we have help on the way at those positions so we are going to try to make sure we have the right safeties in place."

* WR Tyler Baker missed practice today with his foot in a boot. We do not know the extent of his injury yet.

* Another move on the defensive side was to move Aaron Garbutt down to linebacker from safety. Wommack said he will also take a look at Aaron at Husky. Garbutt played the Spur last year, which is another name, basically, for the Husky.

* Ja-Mes Logan fell off the map last year toward the end of the season, his playing time limited as the talented freshmen started performing better. Not so fast, said Ja-Mes. So far, he has been, along with Moncrief, one of the go-to guys out wide.

* Freshman DE Kameron Wood came to Ole Miss last summer weighing 225 pounds. He laid out last semester and came back in in January. He now tips the scales at 255 pounds and it all looks very solid.

* MLB Mike Marry (hamstring) and DT Bryon Bennett (ankle) are still not practicing due to injury. Other than Baker, we saw nobody else who needs to be added to the wounded list.

* Punter Tyler Campbell was absolutely slaughtering the football in practice Thursday, with several punts over 60 yards from the line of scrimmage. Nailing it.

* Former Wide Receiver Bill Flowers showed up at practice. Bill now lives in Birmingham, is married and is the proud father of a 3-month old little girl, Gabby. Bill looks like he could still run a few routes.

* The big hit of the day? S Denzel Nkemdiche leveled TB Devin Thomas after a 10-yard gain. Denzel stopped Thomas in his tracks with a solid strike.

* More on the wideouts from Heard. "They are getting better every day because, besides Tuesday, they have given effort every day," he said. "They are not used to this tempo yet, but they are getting better and competing. We've got some kids doing a real good job, all things considered. I want competition in that room every day and don't want anyone to feel safe with their jobs. The depth chart is etched in sand. Donte has great ball skills. All he needs to do is run cleaner routes and refine his routes. I'm also pleased with Logan, Collins Moore, Vincent Sanders, Korvic Neat and Philander Moore to this point. Korvic and Vince have been pleasant surprises for me."

* The Rebels will scrimmage Friday at 4:15 p.m. in the stadium. The public is invited and Freeze said he would wrap things up in time for fans to walk over to the baseball stadium and "not miss a pitch" of the Ole Miss-Florida game. The best of both worlds.

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