It was lacking in the first three or four days of fall camp, but lately it's been showing up more and more. "It" is more competitiveness between the Ole Miss offense and defense. Read about it inside.

For a few days to start fall practice, there wasn't much to talk about concerning an Ole Miss practice but the defense.

They were dominating the workouts, clearly.

But somewhere around last Thursday, the offense got off the ropes and started throwing some punches back.

This afternoon, that was more evident than it had been all camp. Quality competition between the offense and the defense.

"We had a very spirited practice. They got after each other and it was very competitive," said Coach Hugh Freeze, obviously pleased with that aspect of the two-hour practice in the IPF. "The defense won parts of the practice and the offense won parts.

"In the two-minute drill, the offense made some really big plays. In the 2nd-and-7 competition, it was very, very close."

Hugh singled out two players who stood out to him.

"Jaylen Walton had some excellent runs. He caught my eye today. And (DE) C.J. Johnson was an animal out there today. We could not block him," noted Freeze.

The Rebs got a brief scare when Husky Dehendret Collins went down with a shoulder injury that looked eerily like the dislocation of WR Collins Moore last week. Fortunately, it was not dislocated.

"It is just strained, thank goodness," said Freeze. "We definitely need to stay healthy. Jeff (Scott) came out too, but I don't think much is wrong with him.

"The doctors said Wesley Pendelton has a strained MCL and is day-to-day. He'll probably be out a week."

Vincent Sanders
File Photo

LG Aaron Morris is now dressing out and going through some drills after missing several days last week with an Achilles tendon issue. When will he be completely recovered?

"He did well this morning in indo (individual) drills. We don't want to bring him back too soon and aggravate things, but he should be back real soon," Freeze commented.

Freeze maintained his position that the injuries will not slow down his plan of attack on how to rebuild the Rebel football program.

"Injuries keep me up at night, but we are at a state in this program where we have to learn to compete every day and I don't know how to do it without being physical. We don't do a lot of tackling to the ground, but we do a lot of physical drills," he explained. "We have to do that and hope we can get everyone healthy by game time."

Barry Brunetti worked with the ones this afternoon, Bo Wallace was with the top offensive unit this morning.

"That was by design and doesn't mean anything," said Freeze. "Barry came out and threw the ball well in The Opening Red Ball drill. He drove the ones to a TD. Bo is struggling a little bit with a bad blister on his throwing hand, but he'll be OK and he made some nice throws today as well."

Random Notes:

* One of the standouts today, and really the past several days, has been WR Vincent Sanders, who caught two deep balls - one from Bo and one from Barry - in this afternoon's practice. "Vincent is having fun. I love him. I love the way he competes and has fun," said Hugh. "He enjoys competing, he loves playing, he enjoys practice. We need more like him, guys who enjoy playing the game."

* It's been stated that PK Andrew Ritter would likely redshirt so the Rebs can have an experienced kickoff and field goal man next year after Bryson Rose graduates. The question mark was whether or not Rose or freshman Nathan Noble could handle kicking off effectively. It has been determined that both can do that well, consistently hitting kickoffs into the end zone or out of it, especially Noble. Consequently, the redshirt for Ritter seems solid now.

Cameron Whigham
File Photo

* If the Rebs played tomorrow, who would be in the wide receiver rotation? Right now, it's a given that Donte Moncrief, Ja-Mes Logan, Sanders, freshman Cody Core, and slot receivers Philander Moore and Korvic Neat would be, but the Rebs want eight in the rotation. Those two slots are up for grabs with Tobias Singleton and Jordan Holder in the lead right now. Singleton caught a couple of possession balls, as did Holder, today and Tobias also added a bomb from Brunetti to his tally. Also, the wild card in that is how much Randall Mackey will play in a receiver role, mostly in the slot.

* DT Carlton Martin is having a better fall camp than he did spring training. He's in better shape, is explosive and one of the strongest players on the team. So why isn't he more dominant? Simply, the coaches say while he is playing better, Carlton just hasn't "turned it loose" the way they think he is capable. They are waiting on that moment in time when he flips the switch on.

* Freeze was quick to praise Johnson, and rightfully so - he was a beast today, but his cohort at the other defensive end slot, Cameron Whigham, registered two QB sacks in the Red Ball drill and they were back-to-back, forcing the offense into a 3rd-and-38 situation.

* In case you are wondering, it is no "fun" being injured with this staff. The weight coaches work their healthy body parts hard while they are recovering. For instance, if able, they have to swing an 8-pound sledge hammer into a tractor tire repeatedly or gyrate a 50-foot piece of doubled up anchor rope vigorously. The walking wounded may sweat more than the healthy. It's no beach party being hurt.

* One reason the offense and the defense are more competitive lately is simple - the quarterbacks are getting more time to throw more regularly and the backs are getting bigger creases to run through. Point to the offensive line. While not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination, as we wrote last week, they are getting better and giving the skill guys a chance to succeed.

* The Rebs will resume practice tomorrow morning at 9:45.

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