Learning the Ropes

The Rebel tight ends have three seniors leading the way, which bodes well from an experience factor, but they are still learning the ins and outs of the new offensive system.

This could be written for every position this spring training session. . . so don't take it as something unique or particularly discouraging.

According to Tight Ends Coach Maurice Harris, spring training 2012 has been one big learning process.

"The guys have come out every day with a great attitude and have given me great effort, but the bottom line is that they are still learning, which is to be expected," said Harris. "In the past, the tight ends have not been used a whole lot in the passing game.

"In this offense, they will be used as receivers. Consequently, there is a lot for them to learn, not only about our system, which is new to them, but the intricacies of the passing game – route running, clean breaks, reading coverages, the whole ball of wax."

Ferbia Allen, who has plenty of game experience and is one of the leaders of the group, has gained the top spot, Maurice noted.

"Ferbia has come on the most for me. He's gotten the scheme down the best and has executed on the practice fields the best of the group on a more consistent basis," said Maurice. "Our concepts of the passing game are new to him. He needs to work on attacking linebackers and safeties by sticking those guys at the top of his routes. He's also got to keep working on getting his hands up in a position to catch the ball at the top of his routes. Overall, though, he's done a good job of grasping all the new things we are teaching."

Jamal Mosley may have the most ability of the group and E.J. Epperson, who played fullback the last year or so and has now moved back to tight end, is behind Mosley.

"Jamal has great ability, but he has to work on the finer points of being a quality tight end," Harris allowed. "He's one of the most athletic tight ends in this conference, in my opinion. He catches the ball well, he's strong at the point of attack and he has a good sense of the passing game. He gets in and out of cuts well and he attacks defenders well. He needs to work on getting this offense down. Overall, I have been pleased with him, but he's got work to do to hone his skills and gain knowledge.

Ferbia Allen
Chuck Rounsaville

"E.J.'s effort is the best of all of them. He hustles and he gets downfield to try to find a second block," said Mo. "He just needs to get used to having his hand on the ground again and playing on the line of scrimmage. I need him to attack more in the blocking game. He also has to learn how to stick safeties and linebackers. He's rounding out his routes and not making much of a move to create separation. He has to work on that."

Behind them is Jack Nuismer, who has made a positive impression on Maurice, especially late in the spring.

"This past scrimmage (the second scrimmage a week ago), I was very pleased with Jack from the standpoint of knowing what to do, playing with patience and playing with savvy. He cares and spends a lot of time learning the offense and asking questions. I like his approach," Harris stated. "He needs to work on creating separation in his pass routes. Stick it and make distinct cuts. He needs to work on his recognition of coverages as well, but as studious as he is, he will get those things down. Jack can help us."

Charlie Scott, Billy Busch, John Peloza and Dylan Dyer round out the crowded position.

"Charlie is a good kid who works hard. He and Jack come in with a great attitude every day, even though their reps are limited in scrimmages and in practice. They never hang their heads or pout and I appreciate that from them. Charlie just needs to work on his knowledge of the offense, but it's not from lack of effort," Harris stated. "Billy is a super kid who wants to do well. He works overtime to learn the offense, but he needs to keep working on the finer points of playing tight end. Things are moving really fast for him right now and sometimes he gets out of control, but he's a great kid to work with.

"John is another kid who I love his attitude. He knows what to do but his translation from the classroom to the field has been bumpy because he doesn't get a lot of reps. He's a hard worker and I enjoy coaching him. Dylan – Foozy – is another good kid who works hard and is still learning the offense."

Analysis: Due to having three seniors with experience at the top of the tight end chart, the grade should be good, but the spring production has not matched that experience. There is more, much more, that can be accomplished by this group. The effort has been good, but the recognition and learning curve is not as far along as hoped. As a result, the grade is a C, with a lot of room for improvement before fall camp rolls around.

This is the fourth in a series of articles printed in the Grove Bowl issue of The Ole Miss Spirit. We will reprint them all here.

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