Cranking It Up

After a closed Friday night practice concentrating on special teams and knocking the rust off, fall camp for the Ole Miss Rebels went full steam ahead with Saturday's morning workout. Read about it inside.

The Rebels were greeted to the practice fields this morning to the sounds of AC/DC (Thunderstruck) and their first dose of summer practice heat and humidity.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was not overjoyed with the practice, but he wasn't disappointed either.

"I'd grade them a 'B' overall," said Freeze, off the cuff. "We didn't have the crisp legs today that we did last night when it was cool. We did a lot of drill work last night to acclimate the younger guys, but we didn't come back with the same pep today.

"The attitude was very good and they have been very coachable, which is a positive, but we have to get a little more bounce in our step. We have to quickly get back into the habit of going to work every day.

"It was good to see some retention from spring. The older guys knew what was going on. We didn't have too many MAs (missed assignments). We are not going to over-install this fall camp. We are going to get good at what we are doing and then install during game weeks more and more. We want to get better at the basics for at least a couple of weeks before we start installing more stuff."

Obviously, one of the first questions Freeze was hit with was the quarterback race.

"Without having watched today's film, I thought Bo (Wallace) had an edge today. He took care of the ball better and was a little quicker in his decision-making," Freeze noted. "It's hard to tell until you get pads on because you can't do much pass protection and it makes it look a little sloppy. Barry (Brunetti) had some balls knocked down that could have been good plays with blocking going on. My gut reaction, though, is that Bo had a little better day."

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

There didn't seem to be major depth chart changes from the end of spring training, but along the offensive line, it's apparent the coaches are searching for depth.

Junior Patrick Junen and Pierce Burton did a lot of swapping out at the number one right tackle slot.

"Junen had a good summer and I think we have created some competition there. We will need them both, we need help at tackle. Hopefully, Patrick will be our third tackle who can play either side, we want them to be interchangeable, and I think Patrick can play inside as well if needed," Freeze explained.

The premature question of redshirting, as it always does, popped up.

"I met with every freshman and told them in a perfect world I would like to redshirt them all, but I doubt we will be able to do that this year. We won't make those decisions until about three weeks in," he closed.

Random Notes:

* Freeze's first impression of some of the true freshman was a good one. "I think we have some good ones. They obviously don't know what is going on right now, but I'tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton, Cody Core, Quintavius Burdette and Trae Elston have the look you want."

* CB Senquez Golson was a no-show last spring due to playing baseball, but apparently he's going to get a strong look this fall camp from the start. "He's an SEC athlete. You can't coach his type of speed, so we are going to make a conscious effort to catch him up," Freeze noted. "Athletically, he is what you are looking for."

* It's fairly apparent that one of the better playmakers on the team is senior Randall Mackey, who lined up at TB and WR Saturday. "We had him pass block one time by mistake. I'm going to have to talk to whoever scripted that," quipped Hugh. "Randall looks good with the ball in his hands on the perimeter. He makes things happen, but we are not going to give him a steady dose of pass protection."

* Freeze noted in his press conference Friday that he was most comfortable with the cornerbacks. They did not disappoint him Saturday. "(CB Coach Wesley) McGriff has got them playing with some swagger over there, which is good to see," Freeze said. "We burned them a couple of times on some double moves which we have to be careful not to be too aggressive, but overall I think they are athletic enough to be a strength for us."

Quintavius Burdette
Chuck Rounsaville

* If you are keeping score, Bo Wallace took the first snaps with the number one offense Saturday. Does that mean much? Not much at this juncture. OC Dan Werner said yesterday that all reps would be equal. We'll keep you posted on that race daily as much as possible.

* The two-deep on the defensive front today was DT - Gilbert Pena, Carlton Martin; DT - Bryon Bennett, Woodrow Hamilton (Uriah Grant is out for a couple of weeks); DE C.J. Johnson, Carlos Thompson/E.J. Epperson; DE - Cameron Whigham, Jason Jones (Channing Ward has not been cleared by the NCAA clearing house yet.)

* McGriff and DC/Safety Coach Dave Wommack are running a host of secondary personnel through the mill early on. Those who got significant reps were Charles Sawyer, Dehendret Collins, Wesley Pendleton, Senquez Golson, Abdul Bangura, Chief Brown, Brishen Mathews, Cody Prewitt, Anthony Standifer, Quintavius Burdette and Tanner Burns. There is some major sorting out going on in the secondary.

* Fullerton CC Cornerback Louis Covington was at practice, but he was not allowed to dress out yet. The late transfer hopes to be able to practice tomorrow or Monday. He looks to be in the 5-10, 175 range.

* Freeze didn't mention Standifer this time in his rapid-fire, post-practice Q&A, but the tall freshman CB knocked down three passes in pass scale, a drill the offense usually has an advantage in and shows one-on-one skills. Not a bad start.

* Walkon CB Bangura is a prime example of what hard work can do for a player. Bangura seemed lost and out of place during the fall last year, but in spring training, he started coming around, making at least one play on the ball daily. Today, Bangura picked off a pass and knocked down another in his bid for playing time. McGriff said Friday that Bangura can help the secondary in certain situations and he expects him to play. The extra work and desire is starting to pay off for the redshirt freshman.

* The first-team OL from spring has not changed. The number two OL Saturday was LT Mitch Hall, LG Justin Bell, C Chase Hughes, RG Jared Duke, who is down to 355 pounds from 370 last year, and RT Patrick Junen, who also got some work with the ones. Developing depth on the OL is one of the main points of emphasis for OL Coach Matt Luke this fall camp.

* Freeze already mentioned the "look" of some freshmen, including WR Cody Core, but here's a second to that observation. Core, who looks to be about 6-2, 190, has a big body and better-than-expected speed, but what is raising the eyebrow about Core is the way he attacks the ball and goes after it. On one play Saturday, he ran a deep pattern on the sidelines into double coverage. Wallace threw it up and Core, full-speed, caught it between the two defenders who were in decent position to make the play. It may have been the play of the day.

* TE Jamal Mosley is indefinitely suspended from games for now, but he is practicing with the team.

* Of those injured last spring, LB Keith Lewis, DT Bryon Bennett and OL D.J. Bailey appeared to be full speed. Only Grant will be relegated to the sidelines for a couple of weeks.

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