Scrimmage Time

The Rebels held their first scrimmage of spring training with mixed results and mixed reviews. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze had an idea of what he would see in Friday's scrimmage before the Rebs ever took the field.

And he basically got what he expected - some good, some bad and a mindset of "a long way to go."

"The defense dominated the first half, maybe a little more, but then we went with some up-tempo stuff and gave them some problems. I thought the offense closed strong," Freeze noted. "The defense forced some turnovers early, but then we started making a few plays on offense. The kicking game was pretty good - the operation of it and the kicking end of it.

"We are making some mental mistakes up front on offense that kill plays right now, but we'll get that straight."

Hugh opted to go "live" with the quarterbacks once they ventured outside the protective umbrella of the pocket.

"We need to see how they handle contact and Barry Brunetti, Randall Mackey and Bo Wallace all had some good runs during the day," he continued.

Hugh said it would be tough for him to give a fair evaluation of the quarterbacks without having seen the film.

"I know Brunetti threw two back-shoulder passes that were about as good as I've seen lately. He also hit a long fade late that was perfect for a TD to Ja-Mes Logan," he added. "Bo made some good throws as well and so did Randall."

Hugh Freeze
File Photo

While the OL is struggling a bit, it's hard to get a grasp of where the QBs stand, Hugh allowed.

"It's difficult because they are under duress pretty quickly, but even so, you can't turn the ball over and you have to get the ball out," Hugh stated. "Also, our receivers busted some routes. Those are all things that will work themselves out with time and more practice.

"Our OL will get better. Our receivers will get on the same page with our QBs, but we have to get that done in the next three weeks and next 9 practices. Everything is so new to them, I'm not disappointed where we are after six practices."

On defense, Hugh has seen some good signs.

"I think they are moving around pretty good and are picking things up pretty good," he assessed. "I think all the coaches over there are doing an excellent job rallying them and teaching. The players are taking coaching and learning. At the end, they were gassed, but that is what this up-tempo offense will do to you if you aren't used to facing it."

Random Notes:

* WR Donte Moncrief (back spasms) did not participate in the scrimmage. . . MLB Mike Marry (hamstring), DT Bryon Bennett (ankle), DE Gerald Rivers (at a funeral), WR Tyler Baker (foot) and Husky Brishen Mathews (dehydration) also missed the workouts.

* Tobias Singleton took Moncrief's spot, Carlton Martin took over for Bennett, and Ivan Nicholas replaced Mathews.

* With Charles Sawyer now playing safety, Wesley Pendleton and JUCO transfer Dehendret Collins were the starting corners.

* On the first possession of the day, ones against ones, Safety Cody Prewitt, playing centerfield on third-and long, intercepted an overthrown pass by Brunetti.

H.R. Greer
File Photo

* Mackey scored on a 46-yard touchdown run on a quarterback read against the number two defense.

* Brunetti came back from the pick and found Logan for a 16-yard score.

* Aaron Garbutt, who was moved to linebacker this week, killed one offensive drive with a sack of QB Maihkail Miller.

* DE Jason Jones also had a QB sack on Brunetti to stop one offensive march and DE Cameron Whigham and DT Woodrow Hamilton combined for a sack of Wallace on another defensive highlight.

* Tb Jeff Scott scored from 10 yards out late in the scrimmage and then scored again on a 5-yarder.

* Mackey added a 6-yard TD run and the combo of Brunetti to Logan connected on a 30-yard scoring pass.

* OC/QB Coach Dan Werner said the two things he preaches daily were not done to his satisfaction by the quarterbacks in the scrimmage.

"We didn't protect the ball the way we should and we didn't get the ball out on time the way we need to," Werner evaluated. "I will have to see the film to get more specific, but off the top of my head, those were the glaring things I saw. We made some plays late in the scrimmage that I was pleased with, but overall, we've got a long way to go."

The up-tempo is not only something the offensive players are having to get used to, but the coaches who have not coached in this system - like Werner - have adjustments to make as well.

"You have to think fast. Normally, when you are in the press box calling plays, you have two or three seconds to make a decision. In this system, it's even quicker," he smiled. "It's happening fast, trust me. But as you could see today, it eventually wears a defense down and causes problems."

Up front, Werner said he feels good, despite them being a long way from a finished product.

"Matt (Luke) will get those guys going, I'm sure of that," he explained. "This is all foreign to these guys - the system, the tempo, the calls, the terminology - we can't expect it to happen overnight. But even with that, we got off a few long balls today, which was good to see. It will take a while because they have the toughest job on the team."

Werner sees the receivers "licking their lips," so to speak, over the opportunities they will have in this offense.

"They see that this pace is going to create open routes and chances to get the ball a lot in space, so they are excited," Werner noted. "Certainly, we are not where we want to be, but I like the way they are approaching things."

* The starting defense was DEs Jason Jones and C.J. Johnson, DTs Martin and Uriah Grant, MLB Joel Kight, OLB Serderius Bryant, Safeties Sawyer and Chief Brown, Husky Nicholas and CBs Collins and Pendleton.

* The starting OL was LT Emmanuel McCray, LG Aaron Morris, C Evan Swindall, RG A.J. Hawkins and RT Pierce Burton.

* The Rebels will resume practice Monday. Right now, it's scheduled for 5:30 a.m. and it is open to the public for the early risers amongst the Rebel faithful who care to watch.

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