Competitive

After last Tuesday's practice, when the defense dominated, the offense came out with a little more fire in their eyes, creating a more competitive practice Thursday. Read about it inside.



Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze has been fairly basic in his demands of the Rebels during spring training.

"Compete" has been one of his mantras.

He hasn't always gotten that as was witnessed Tuesday when the Rebel defense took the offense to the proverbial woodshed.

Thursday, Freeze got his wish.

While neither side was perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, both sides of the ball were competitive.

"Every drill was competitive. The defense found a way to win all of them, but the offense was competitive," Freeze assessed. "The offense has to find a way to win some of those battles, but if they will keep competing like they did today, and start believing in themselves a little more, and being a little more assertive, we'll win some things.

"Right now, we still have so many things on offense we have to clean up. Our QBs' heads are still swimming a bit. We've had some negative plays because we are not on the same page with our receivers in some instances. But as far as the attitude and competitiveness, it was much better and I was much more pleased. There were good things that happened on both sides of the ball and you can work from that."

Freeze used Randall Mackey in a variety of positions - wide receiver, slot, tailback and at quarterback. At QB, Mackey ripped off some impressive runs.


Randall Mackey
File Photo

"He's a talented kid. He can make plays and one thing we have always been able to do in our offense is get the ball to the kids who can make plays," Freeze explained. "Randall can do that. He still has a long way to go, but he did some real good things today at times."

Another Reb who was recently moved, Tobias Singleton, is trying his hand at running back. Will it stick?

"It's probably a little bit early to tell, but we are thin there and he's got to be there for now," noted Freeze. "A lot of where he will be in the fall will depend on how the new kids pick things up and how he continues to progress."

In team competition, the Rebel offense, in the tempo period, was able to gain some yardage on the ground, mostly on the outside.

"Right now, our inside guys defensively are better than our inside guys offensively, which makes it hard to run in there," said Hugh. "We have gotten better running inside, but we weren't consistent and we had better success on the edge."

Random Notes:

* DT Uriah Grant injured his shoulder and is going to have to have surgery. He will be out the remainder of spring training.

* Maybe the waiting game is over, for WR Terrell Grant, that is. His first three years at Ole Miss, Grant did not make much of an impact. This spring, he's been more noticeable. "Terrell had a good day today. He hurt his ankle, but pushed through it and I was proud to see that," noted Freeze. "He's making some plays this spring. He's going to have to play and I think he's decided he wants to be better, he wants to contribute and play. That's half the battle."

* Freeze's goals for Saturday's 10 a.m. scrimmage - open to the public - remain simple. "I want us to take care of the ball and stay on schedule on offense and on defense keep doing what they are doing - play with great passion and get after it," Freeze continued. "We had a 3rd-and-1 today and I made a call I knew would take a little bit of adjustment. We didn't know it was 3rd-and-1. That's not staying on schedule. That's the difference in moving the chains and punting. We have to be more aware."


Tobias Singleton
File Photo

* The QB race seems to be down to Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace, with a little bit of Mackey meshed in there in certain packages. Who will win the job? Freeze says the guy who eliminates the negative plays and gets more consistent. "We are not consistent there right now and we have too many negative plays. We have to clean all of that up," he stated. "I don't judge them right now on making the great plays. I judge them on functioning properly with consistency and not having negative plays. We have to get on the same page with our QBs and wideouts too."

* Emmanuel McCray remains in control of the left tackle spot for now and Freeze knows why. "He's been one of our more consistent players up front. He wants to do well and he buys into the little things we ask our guys to do," Freeze added. "We will count on him."

* We haven't mentioned Donte Moncrief much because he's kind of a "given." With Donte, you know what you are going to get, but Freeze does not take him for granted. "He competes for the ball. He can run, he's big, he's strong and he competes," Hugh closed. "He will excel in this system with his skill set."

* Several players missed Tuesday's practice due to academic issues. They were all back at practice Thursday except Nick Brassell and Gerald Rivers.

* DT Bryon Bennett is still hobbled a bit on his bum ankle, but he was trying to do more Thursday, even participating in some of the live scrimmage work. He's favoring his ankle, but he's out there trying.

* In the tempo period, early on, Wallace found Grant for a 40-yard TD after scrambling under pressure. Two plays later, he had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that DE C.J. Johnson intercepted. A prime example of the negative plays and lack of consistency Freeze was referencing.

* RG A.J. Hawkins missed the practice due to a conflict in his class schedule. In his absence, Patrick Junen ran with the first team OL at right guard.

* TB Jeff Scott appeared to be trapped in the backfield on one play, but he darted outside, turned on the jets and outran containment for a 50-yard gain. Kid can motor.

* One sign the OL is starting to get it little by little popped up late in the practice. DC Dave Wommack sent two blitzers on the same side and both were picked up long enough for Brunetti to find WR Ja-Mes Logan on a bomb.

* CB Wesley Pendleton has been getting rave reviews all spring, but his running mate, Dehendret Collins, who just transferred end at semester from Co-Lin, is also starting to make plays. Thrusday, eh had man coverage on Moncrief, got good inside position on a deep pass and intercepted a Mackey pass with Moncrief in his hip pocket. Nice play.


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