Positives and Negatives

On one hand, there were dynamic, sound football plays made on both sides of the ball. On the other, there were too many bad plays to suit the coaches. That, in a nutshell, were the results of Saturday's scrimmage, the first of the year. Read about it inside.

The Ole Miss football team held its first full scrimmage of the 2012 season Saturday morning with mixed results, according to first-year Coach Hugh Freeze.

"At times, it felt like just another practice to me instead of a scrimmage," said Freeze. "I saw some positives, but I also saw a lot of negatives.

"The defense had good energy and created some turnovers, which is good for that side, but not good for the offense. On offense, we made some plays, but you can't have as many turnovers as we did today. Here's the thing - it's never as bad or as good as it seems. We'll watch the film and get back after it Monday."

Freeze was surprised the team, overall, was not a little more "jacked up."

"I was a little surprised by that. Our coaches will take that personally and get that corrected before next Saturday's scrimmage," he commented.

At quarterback, protecting the ball is job number one. Freeze didn't get the warm and fuzzies about their overall play.

"Today, I didn't feel real good about either one of them overall. They started off poorly and it took them some time to gain their composure. They did have some drops, but right now I feel we are a long way from where we need to be at that position," Freeze noted.

Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace each threw two picks.

"On a couple of them, their reads were good and they just made bad throws. On the other two, the reads were bad. We have to get those things corrected quickly," Hugh added. "We have to throw the ball where either we get it or nobody gets it. We can live with an incompletion, but not the picks."

The run game showed some good signs and was fairly consistent throughout the practice.

"I think we can do some good things there. Randall Mackey is making plays and we have more than one back now whereas in spring training we were real worried. Those young backs (I'tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton) have really done a good job and our quarterbacks had some nice runs," Freeze noted. "I am excited about Jaylen and I'Tavius. They showed that they are going to be quality backs. They are still swimming mentally with some things, but I like where they are."

Barry Brunetti
File Photo

Early in fall camp, the offensive line was really struggling. Little by little, they are showing signs of improvement and that showed up quite a bit in the scrimmage.

They still surrendered some sacks and made some mistakes, but the advancement they have made is noticeable.

"I think Matt (Luke) is doing a fine job with them. They are understanding things better. We are still not deep enough there and it shows, but they are definitely better than they were on day one when we started. They are giving effort and have improved without question," he closed.

Random Notes:

* TB Jeff Scott (concussion) and LG Aaron Morris (strained Achilles tendon) did not participate in the scrimmage. They are expected back next week.

* The first-team defense today was DEs Cameron Whigham and C.J. Johnson; DTs Bryon Bennett and Issac Gross/Gilbert Pena; MLB Mike Marry; Stinger LB Aaron Garbutt; Husky Dehendret Collins; CBs Senquez Golson and Wesley Pendleton; Rover Chief Brown and FS Cody Prewitt. . . . Also in the rotation was CB Cliff Coleman, who CB Coach Wesley "Crime Dawg" McGriff believes will be his "third corner."

* Prewitt hurt his ankle the second day of spring training and wasn't the same all spring. He tried to fight through it and didn't miss any practices, but the impression he made on DC/Safety Coach Dave Wommack was not a good one. A healthy Prewitt, in August, has changed Wommack's evaluation slowly but surely. Prewitt gained more points with the D-Boss today with an interception of a Bo Wallace pass and a long return.

* The Rebel front six, and sometimes a corner or a safety, depending on who Wommack sends, continues to generate pressure in pass rush. Garbutt, in particular, has shown an excellent propensity for blitzing and had another sack in the scrimmage. "Aaron has a knack for that and he goes full speed and under control," noted Freeze. "He's been effective in that role so far."

Louis Covington's pick
File Photo

* At the end of spring, the Rebel offensive coaches were comfortable with one back - Scott. Through 11 practices in August, that number has risen. Mackey is dangerous at TB, the two freshmen are showing they belong, Scott is a given, and Devin Thomas and Nick Parker are showing their worth in power sets. The depth at that position has multiplied nicely since spring.

* The demeanor in the secondary under McGriff and Wommack has become more aggressive. fans ask if they look for the ball. The answer is no. They don't JUST look for it. They fight, claw, scratch and hawk it. Nobody knows how that will play out during the season, but in fall practice so far, their interception numbers are impressive.

* From an offensive standpoint, Freeze sounded almost dejected after the scrimmage, but in reality that wasn't the case. He was just expecting more. After two or three days of the offense doing some pretty good things, including taking care of the ball, six turnovers were not what he was anticipating. "As I said, we had some positives, but the turnovers, that's not acceptable," he emphasized.

* Today's Spirit coverage will include a stat story from the scrimmage, a photo gallery and a video or two. We will have a story with Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack and Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner in the morning.

* The Rebels will not practice Sunday and will resume with their third true two-a-day Monday.

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