'Like Pulling Teeth'

After two really spirited practices in the IPF Monday, the Rebels took the practice fields today and came close to laying their first egg of fall camp. Some manufactured motivation, however, allowed for a decent ending to an otherwise lackluster day. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze stopped Tuesday morning's practice about midway through and told the offensive players to get on the line for some mid-practice gassers.

The point was easily translated: We can run all day if you guys don't want to give better effort.

Post-practice, Freeze laid it all out there.

"It was great to be back outside. We had beautiful weather, but it was a challenging practice," said Freeze. "We just did not have the energy we have had. We (coaches) tried to manufacture some and it got a little better, but to get where we want to be, we can't do this.

"Last night's energy was phenomenal. We did not follow up on it today."

Freeze had fired a warning shot over the bow of the coaches' locker room on Sunday.

"I told our coaches, this second week is a challenge. It has been at every camp I have ever been through. Some teams climb, some teams dip, some stay the same, but it's the most difficult week and we have to fight through it.

"Fatigue has set in and their bodies are sore, but we are not the only ones going through it. There are 120 other teams going through it."

Mind games, Freeze said, are the enemy.

"Your mind is not your friend right now. Your mind will lie to you and tell you you can't do something or you don't want to do something. That's how we took the field today. It was like pulling teeth today."

Freeze called on the fight in the team.

"We will find out who we are going to become this week and next. Everyone felt good last week coming off a great summer and excited about football getting started," he explained.

Hugh Freeze
File Photo

"This week, some of them are not moving up the depth chart, some of them want to change positions. They go through all those emotions and that is real and that is normal. It affects how they attack practice."

Part of that, Freeze noted, is needing more leadership, especially on offense, to step up.

"I said it all day today - the leaders, particularly on offense, have to step up. Offensively, we are struggling to find consistent leadership," he continued.

You normally get some leadership from the QB position. That was not prevalent during the workout, but Freeze did like what he saw from freshman Maikhail Miller.

"Maikhail is getting better. He has a strong arm and he's very accurate. He still doesn't know what is going on, but he's getting better mentally," Hugh assessed. "Barry did some good things early on, but he is still inconsistent. He gets sloppy with his mechanics and that causes some negative plays. He's got to fix those."

Inconsistency has been the nemesis of the tight ends too.

"I love Ferbia Allen's body and attitude. I love Jamal (Mosley's) body and he continues to do what's right off the field and out here," said Freeze. "They have both blocked well, but they have dropped balls they should catch. They have given good effort, but we need them to be more effective in the passing game.

"John Youngblood doesn't figure into the equation yet. I'd love to redshirt him, but I don't know if I can. We need kids like him on special teams and in case someone goes down in front of him. We like him a lot, but he's still learning everything."

One area that Freeze is not concerned is in the kicking game.

"That's the one area where I feel pretty good - I hope," he smiled. "Bryson Rose has been as consistent as he can be. Tyler Campbell is a good punter. He's been a little inconsistent, but I am not worried about that. Kicking off, everyone knows Andrew Ritter has a strong leg, so does Nathan Noble and so does Bryson.

"Redshirting Ritter is a definite possibility, but we have to make sure we are doing what's best for the future of our team. To have a senior next year who can kickoff and kick field goals would be nice. It appears we can be OK on kickoffs without Ritter this year. Andrew is open to the redshirt. People love Ole Miss and don't want to leave. Life beyond college can be a little tougher, as we all know. It's not a done deal, but if everyone is good with it - it is a definite possibility."

Maikhail Miller
File Photo

Random Notes:

* QB Bo Wallace did not throw any passes Tuesday. He's nursing a bad blister on the index finger of his throwing hand. "We need to get it well. It affected the way he threw the ball yesterday and we need it healed up," Freeze said.

* TB Jeff Scott was sidelined today due to injury. We don't know what, but it's said to be minor. . . CB Wesley Pendleton, minor knee, sat out today. . . Husky Dehendret Collins, who gave everyone a scare yesterday with a shoulder issue, dressed out today but was held out of full contact. .. LG Aaron Morris mixed it up a little more in practice and was running with the second team while he works to get back in shape and get a little healthier.

* The candidates for kickoff return appear to be Tobias Singleton, Philander Moore, Trae Elston, Collins, I'tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton.

* It seems the outside gunners on punt coverage will end up being Pendelton and Collins. At least at this point they appear to be the main candidates.

* Punter Tyler Campbell is trying a new technique this year on pooch punts. It's a method used by a lot of NFL kickers now and it's called the Aussie pooch, where the punter kicks the end of the ball. Reportedly, it's easier to control the distance and hang time and it creates backspin so the ball backs up when it lands. As is the case with any punt, the drop is the key. Campbell used it today in one drill and seems pretty effective with it. He's been working on the technique all summer.

* DE Jason Jones had a rarity for a D-lineman today - an interception of a ball batted at the line of scrimmage. He had clear sailing to the end zone.

* The second team defense, in Red Ball tam drills, got a boost today from two players, DT Woodrow Hamilton and Stinger LB Denzel Nkemdiche, who each registered QB sacks.

* Freshman WR Cody Core continues to make three or four plays a day. Tuesday, he had three intermediate length receptions and one for 40 yards. Miller threw the long one.

* FS Cody Prewitt was also the beneficiary of a tipped ball at the linebacker level. Prewitt picked it off and returned it 20 yards.

* Miller also found WR Terrell Grant for a 25-yard score in the Red Ball drill.

* The Rebs resume practice Wednesday, the last day of two-a-days scheduled/allowed.

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