Twice Is Nice

The Rebel football had their first true two-a-days of the fall camp Wednesday and it ignited two highly spirited, and competitive, practices. Read about tonight's workout inside.

Competition always brings the best out in a team.

Wednesday night, the Rebels were more competitive - with the offense and defense going after each other on equal terms - than they have been to this point in fall camp.

Wednesday night, prior to the full-pad workout, it started with a challenge. The defensive coaches came out dressed on all black, throwing the gauntlet down at the offensive coaches and players.

The offensive coaches answered by going back in the locker room and changing to all red.

A lot of good-natured jawing was going on between the defensive drill field and the offensive drill field until the offensive coaches and players decided to issue their own challenge by running through the defensive drills.

"They were all fired up. I like that stuff," smiled Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze. "We talked to them last night about bringing out their competitive juices more and they responded today.

"It was a great way to start our two-a-days. We had some energy and pizazz. We hit about 70% of the two practices today and the team responded well."

It didn't hurt that the the offense, which has been, for lack of a better word, dominated by the defense thus far in camp, appeared to get tired of being pushed around. They gave as good as they got Wednesday night.

"It was fun today. When both sides are making plays and the juices get flowing, that's how it's supposed to be," Freeze continued. "We have been trying to create a competitive environment and attitude and today I think we saw what we have been looking for. We need to build from here."

Jeff Scott and Hugh Freeze
File Photo

Nowhere was the competitiveness more visible than the last three periods of the practice - Red Zone.

The offense threw the first three punches, scoring on three consecutive plays, Jeff Scott on a 15-yard run, Randall Mackey on a 12-yard run and Scott again from 7 yards out.

The defense was reeling a bit, but they responded by stopping the offense the next couple of possessions before QB Bo Wallace found frosh WR Cody Core in the end zone for a 12-yard score.

"That type of back and forth was good for both sides. Both sides knew they were in a dog fight and that's what you are trying to create in a practice setting," said Freeze.

On the last possession, the defense came out on top. The offense started at the 20 and Scott ripped off two runs for 18 yards down to the 2, but from there, the defense shut them down.

"It was a great way to end it. I was pleased that we got our running game going a bit today. We have some sound stuff in our running game, we just have to get it all in and get it fine-tuned. Our running backs are running the ball very well," Freeze noted. "I am pleased with Jeff and Randall (Mackey). I have said all along that if Randall will get his act together off the field, he will be a vital part of this offense. There is no doubt about his ability."

Freeze said noticeable improvement in the offensive line the last three practices has also made a difference.

"There's no doubt they got better. (OL Coach) Matt (Luke) is spending a lot of time to get them right and they are working hard. You could see the results of their work today with some success," Freeze added.

Kight wrangles Mathers
File Photo

Freeze was asked a depth chart question at safety.

"We have not discussed a depth chart one time yet. I have told my coaches to play them all and evaluate them every day. We will scrimmage Saturday and grade the film to see where people are, but we really won't get into a real depth chart talk for a couple of weeks," he stated.

Random Notes:

* Scott got hit in the head on a play fake late in practice. "He got dinged and got dizzy. I am sure it will be a concussion," Freeze deadpanned with an obvious reference to the tighter concussion guidelines. "We will take precautions with that though. Our kids' health comes first. I'm sure he will be back soon, but to that point, he looked really good."

* There are three "new" OL on the team who did not participate in spring drills. JUCO transfer D.J. Bailey, and freshmen Robert Conyers and Ben Still. The early word around camp is that the coaches are very pleased with all three, but mostly from a potential, and not immediate, standpoint. Conyers has been cited as having really good feet and he likes to mix it up. Still has been called a "no fear" freshman. D.J., older and more mature physically, is showing some ability, but he's behind in his assignments. While nothing is carved in stone, a redshirt would be advantageous for all three.

* You could tell the night practice was going to be free-for-all. Before practice started, all three of the quarterbacks had braces put on their left (lead) knee. A sure sign there would be some hitting going on.

* Frosh DT Isaac Gross impresses the coaches more and more with each practice. Tonight, he split number one NT duties with Gilbert Pena. If you ask why, it's simple. His first step. Lightning in a bottle. He's "on" offensive linemen before they can raise up from their stances and establish a base to take on the brunt of his hit. His speed and quickness have quickly elevated him up the chart for playing time. In short, he has that quality you want from all your defensive linemen - he's disruptive.

* The Rebels will have three more true two-a-days - Friday, next Monday and and next Wednesday.

* Tomorrow, the Rebels will practice in the morning at 9:45.

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