Up and Down

The Rebels held a 120-play scrimmage Saturday that, according to Coach Hugh Freeze, produced "up and down" results. Some good, some not so much.

"We had a slow start offensively in the Red Zone stuff from the 20, but then we picked it up some in the Red Zone from the 10 and in coming out from the 2. The offense got first downs and didn't have to punt from deep in our territory," Freeze said off the top of his head when asked his first impressions of the workout in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. "I thought it was up and down from there. We could have done some things on offense, but I wanted to work on some other things we had scripted.

"We had one package with two tailbacks that was really good to us and we could have stuck with that I think, but we needed to work on some other things."

At this stage of the game (spring), it's still about learning.

"There are a lot of things we need to get cleaned up before next Saturday's Grove Bowl," he continued. "One thing is that we turned the ball over in overtime and you can't do that, but on the positive side, someone on defense - Charles Sawyer - made a great play to stop them.

"It's real clear to me standing out there that we don't quite understand the game in terms of down-and-distance and situations. We have very little awareness at times and try to do more than we should at times. It's the difference in facing 3rd-and-5 or 3rd-and-8 or more. We took care of the ball fairly well for the most part of the scrimmage, but overall it was up and down most of the day."

Hugh Freeze
File Photo

Freeze had mixed emotions about his quarterbacks as well.

"I'd be so pleased with them on one play and then so mad at them on the next," he said. "My gut standing out there, I think Bo (Wallace) had a little better day, but Barry (Brunetti) had some good plays too. Walking off, I'd say Bo, but we'll let you know when we grade them.

"When the pocket broke down, they were able to make some plays at times, but I'd rather the OL not break down that much. The first O-line was more physical and played with better pad level - they did some good things, but protection-wise, right now it's good our QBs have some mobility."

Freeze mentioned the play made by Sawyer in the overtime period, but what about the rest of the secondary?

"We are very thin there, but I do think we have some talent there. Dehendret Collins has really progressed. Wesley Pendleton has been steady all spring and Sawyer is also in that category. We have to get more consistent play out of the others back there and that's where our lack of depth shows," he assessed.

The rest of the spring - three more practices including next Saturday's Grove Bowl - Freeze wants to develop more understanding of the schemes.

"I think they have bought in well, probably 80% or more, but they just need to understand who we are and learn more about our schemes," Freeze closed. "We have a long way to go in that regard, but the effort and attitude has been very good. We just have to do a better job of understanding how we have to function, particularly offensively.

"On defense, we have to limit the big plays. With what they do, we are going to give up some, but we have to be more consistent on that side of the ball."

Random Notes:

* WR Collins Moore was carried off the field after a pretty good hit to his knee, but the early prognosis is that it is nothing major. An MRI will be done, however, to make sure. . . . Husky Ivan Nicholas injured his ankle and his ribs on a sack of QB Randall Mackey, but nothing serious is expected from those dings either. . . . H.R. Greer did not practice Saturday. He sustained a concussion Thursday and will not return to the field until Tuesday's practice.

Randall Mackey
File Photo

* Based on post-practice comments by Freeze on OL Matt Hall, who has sat out this spring for all intents and purposes, the big guy will try to graduate this summer and will not play his senior season. "That's what will be best for him and we are going to help him reach that goal all we can," Freeze added.

* For those who keep track of the different personnel groupings, here are some special teams factoids. The forward wall on the field goal team consists of E.J. Epperson and H.R. Greer on the offset ends, Jamal Mosley and Ferbia Allen at the tight end slots, A.J. Hawkins and Pierce Burton at the tackle slots, Aaron Morris and A.J. Hawkins at guards and Will Denny at snapper. Chris Conley is the holder and Bryson Rose is the kicker. . . . Three players are working deep on kickoff returns - Jeff Scott, Tobias Singleton and Korvic Neat. . . Andrew Ritter, now kicking off from the 35 due to the new rule, kicked all kickoffs at least eight yards deep in the end zone. . . The punt team personnel today was outside gunners Charles Sawyer and Abdul Bangura, tackles Denzel Nkemdiche and Collins Moore, guards Joel Kight and Aaron Garbutt, Denny at snapper, Ferbia Allen, Mike Marry and Ralph Williams as personal protectors and Tyler Campbell booting the ball.

* Freeze mentioned CB Dehendret Collins and for good reason. On back to back plays in the Red Zone, Collins blitzed off the corner and got a QB sack and then picked off a pass on the next snap. Pretty good series.

* Bo Wallace connected twice with WR Ja-Mes Logan for 15-yard TDs and Brunetti, not to be outdone, did his talking with his feet, scoring twice on 10-yards runs in traffic. Wallace came right back and found WR Terrell Grant in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard score.

* Friday night, Freeze tweeted to the fans to pick out the music for the scrimmage. The top vote getter was Dixie, but beyond that, the music was from every genre and variety.

* Besides Sawyer and Collins' picks, the defense had some other big plays as well. . . DT Gilbert Pena leveled Wallace on a QB sack. . . . Garbutt sacked Wallace later on a LB blitz. . . DE C.J. Johnson had two minus-yardage tackles on reverses.

* In the overtime, the first team defense - led by Sawyer's interception - and the second team offense, with a 17-yard TD from Wallace to Vincent Sanders, won over the second team defense and first team offense.

The Rebels will resume practice Tuesday afternoon.

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