Good 'Rebound' Day

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was concerned that after Wednesday's two-practice grind of over 200 plays run, the Rebels might be a little sluggish Thursday morning. That was not the case. Read about it inside.

Coaches, these days, maybe forever, have to be as much psychologists as they are football mentors.

They have to try to dig into the psyche of their team and stay one step ahead, anticipating every move that could be around the corner.

Consequently, it was good preventative thought for Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze to project a possible letdown Thursday morning after two grueling practices Wednesday.

Fortunately, he did not get that.

"I figured today would be a challenge after yesterday's meat-grinder," Freeze noted. "But we needed that kind of day. I thought the aftermath of that could be a little letdown, but I thought they responded well, considering. We ended up getting some good work out of them."

The Rebel offense seems to be getting some good things going in the run game on offense at times, an encouraging sign.

"I like what we are doing there. I was really pleased with the performance of RB Nick Parker today. He ran behind his pads better than he has all camp," Freeze stated. "It was really good to see. Justin Bell and Emmanuel McCray sprung him a couple of times and that was good to see too.

"A big part of our run game is the improvement of our OL. I think Coach (Matt) Luke has done a great job there in getting them better. Obviously, it's very important to be able to run the ball. That helps you to stay on schedule and keep us ahead of the chains. Running the ball affects your playcalling, no doubt."

Freeze says there is a misnomer about his offense in terms of run-pass percentages and when you can't run, it's not a good feeling standing on the sidelines calling plays.

"It's a helpless feeling, really," said Hugh. "I mean helpless. I certainly don't mind throwing it, and people know that, but it's not comfortable when you can't run it," he said. "Contrary to popular belief, were 55-45% pass to run two years ago and 51-49% run to pass last year. We want to run the ball. We have to run the ball."

One thing that has surfaced in the past two weeks that has given Freeze more confidence in the run game is the development of more RBs.

"Right now, I feel comfortable using all our tailbacks. Today, Nick had a great day. Last night, Devin Thomas was excellent. We all know what Randall Mackey and Jeff Scott can do and those two freshman can certainly help us. I'm not afraid to use any and all of them in some capacity," he explained.

I'Tavious Mathers
File Photo

The same word keeps popping up for the play of the quarterbacks - inconsistent.

"I keep saying that, but that's what it is. Bo (Wallace) threw some really nice balls today and had the best day today, but we have to get his hand well and we have to have more consistency there.

"They are more consistent then they have been. They are better. It's not as inconsistent as it was to start fall camp, but it's still inconsistent, to whatever degree you want to put it to. We go where we look very good for two throws with great mechanics and then our mechanics get sloppy and we throw one in the dirt of sail one. We just have to continue to work it to gain that consistency we are looking for."

Random Notes:

* Who will return kicks? Right now, the pool seems to be four main kickoff return guys - Jeff Scott, Jaylen Walton, Trae Elston and Senquez Golson. The main punt returners are Scott, Philander Moore and Korvic Neat.

* Freshman TB Jaylen Walton continues to get Freeze's praise. "He's been phenomenal for a true freshman in his first camp," noted Freeze. "Every day he shows up and gives us something. He's elusive and tough and he hasn't missed a single rep. I am very pleased with him."

* Wallace addressed his consistency issues and the glove he's wearing to help promote the healing of a bad blister on the index finger of his throwing hand. "The glove feels weird. Sometimes I can't feel the ball, but I have to get this finger well," he said. "I tried throwing without it early today and aggravated the blister so I had to put it back on. Hopefully I'll be good for the scrimmage Saturday. I've never had a blister problem before." On inconsistency: "I think we are getting better, but Coach Freeze is right - we have been inconsistent," he continued. "There are times in every practice so far when I just don't quite get it done - a series or a throw that I need to make. In this league, you have to be 100% in making throws that are there to be made. I just have to keep going. Coach (Dan) Werner does a great job with us, but I have to be able to recognize things better and quicker. Most of my issues are mental and reps will help that."

DT Uriah Grant
File Photo

* CB Wesley Pendelton, who has missed this week with a sprained MCL, dressed out today but he was limited in what he could do.

* DE E.J. Epperson and DT Carlton Martin ran most of the reps with the ones Wednesday. They must have done something right - they were still with the top unit Thursday.

* TB I'tavius Mathers, yet again, ripped off a long run - this one for 70 yards. Onthe next play, he caught a short swing pass, turned up field and had Rover Chief Brown bearing down. A quick cut outside and he made Chief whiff. 12-yard gain.

* Tb Jeff Scott has been limited lately in reps due to a lower back issue, but today he showed some bounce and pep in his step with a couple of nice runs.

* DT Uriah Grant went through one-on-one full contact drills today and seems to be ready to be turned loose by Monday of next week, if not sooner. He looks to be in decent shape and form, despite missing most of fall camp. It will be interesting to see where he settles in on the depth chart once he returns fully. He was a number one last spring.

* Freshman OT Robert Conyers is a scrapper.He's got good movement and he's game and willing. Time is his ally and he needs more of it, but he's got a real good upside.

* As of today, August 16th, nobody has been able to consistently block DE C.J. Johnson here lately. He's having a terrific fall camp, as we have written before. He just keeps rolling along.

* Freeze is trying to develop a passion for the game of football. Not everyone has that, but practice demeanor is a good indicator of who loves to play. D.T. Shackelford has that "love fo the game." On this year's team, there are also some kids who obviously love football, crave it, in fact. This is just one man's opinion, but I believe there are several guys who have that king of passion on this team. Dehendret Collins, C.J. Johnson, Randall Mackey,Charles Sawyer, Wesley Pendelton, Jason Jones, Vincent Sanders and Aaron Garbutt come to mind quickly. Also, freshmen Cody Core, Issac Gross, Mathers and Walton exhibit those traits. Certainly, there are others and the coaches' opinions may vary, but these stick out to me as having the "passion" for the game Freeze preaches non-stop.

* The Rebs will resume practice Friday morning.

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