'D' Rules The Day

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze was pumped after Saturday's practice with the effort given by the Rebel defense. Not so much with the offense.

Some days you are the hammer; some days you are the nail.

According to Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze, the Rebel defense was the hammer in Saturday's practice session while the offense was the nail.

"From a defensive standpoint, we had a phenomenal practice today. The offense looked a little sluggish, to be honest," said Freeze. "In Red Ball, the offense was OK, but after that, the energy wasn't quite the same as the defense.

"At the end, we went a best-out-of-five plays and the defense dominated."

Freeze has had a chance to evaluate and digest the week before the Christmas break - where the staff gave a lot of reps to "future" players, and even though he didn't mention any by name, he was pleased with the overall results.

"A lot of those kids did a real good job in the week before the Christmas break. I can tell they are now more confident in who they are and what they are doing," he noted. "They are more comfortable and sure of themselves now. I look forward to them getting a lot of reps in spring and improving that much more."

The Rebels worked a lot on Pittsburgh's "stuff" Saturday.

"Pitt puts up good numbers on defense. They are very sound and will be in the right spots at the right time," he mentioned. "They are physical and they play hard. They do a good job stopping the run - they will be a great challenge for us.

Donte Moncrief
File Photo

"They remind me of a mix between Vandy and Arkansas in their schemes. Schematically they do a lot of things Arkansas and Vandy do on defense and they play hard like Vandy does all the time."

Random Notes

* The Bo Wallace shoulder watch is a continuing saga. "It is what it is," said Freeze, describing Bo's third day back at practice throwing the football. "It's a little sore, but it has been for 10 weeks. He will play with it, he has all year, but Barry (Brunetti) will also play. He's done a lot of good things during the time Bo has been out. Bo is a competitor - he will be ready."

* Reflecting back on his decision to redshirt junior PK Andrew Ritter and junior P Tyler Campbell, Freeze was glad he made that choice. "I got by with it," he laughed. "I could have been raked over the coals for that decision, and probably was by some people, but looking at the scholarship numbers, we decided to give it a shot and see if we could get by so we would have some maturity for next year there. We couldn't have done it without Bryson Rose and Jim Broadway and Nathan Noble coming through. Now, I think we will be as good as anyone in our conference at those spots next year. We were fortunate we could get by with that gamble."

* LB Aaron Garbutt had some flight problems getting back to campus from his home in California after the Christmas break, missing Friday's practice, but he was back in the fold Saturday taking up his position as backup to Stinger LB Denzel Nkemdiche.

Korvic Neat
File Photo

* WR Vincent Sanders sat out yesterday's practice after having a tooth removed. He was back at it Saturday and resumed his role as the number one WR opposite Donte Moncrief.

* Safety Kyle Horine was ill Friday with flu-like symptoms. He practiced Saturday.

* TB Nick Parker has not participated in any bowl practices. A few weeks ago, between the Egg Bowl and the start of bowl practices, Nick was in a pickup basketball game and took an elbow to his left eye. He hit broke his eye socket. Parker had to undergo surgery. He is recovering. He did not have any damage to his vision, fortunately.

* Speedster walk-on Clifton Davis, who plays on the kickoff team and made some tackles in that capacity during the regular season, is slowly but surely making himself a viable option at tailback. Speed and quickness are his thing and in recent practice session, he has broken some long runs with those attributes.

* On one screen play in Red Ball Saturday, Moncrief not only blocked a cornerback on the play, he took out a safety as well, which led to the question: how good are the Rebel wideouts in the blocking game and how important is that to the offense? "It is critical in this offense," said Freeze. "We do a lot of things that won't work without solid wideout blocking. Donte gets an A+. He's got great technique, he's big and strong and he wants to be a great blocker. He's outstanding. Vincent Sanders is a B+ - if he was as big as Donte, he'd be an A+ guy too. He's got the right mindset and grit. Ja-Mes Logan is probably a C-. Blocking is just not his forte, but he's working at it. Korvic Neat is very good from a technique standpoint and a want-to standpoint, he's just so little that sometimes he can't hold up, but it's not from a lack of trying."

* The Rebels will take tomorrow off and resume practice Monday in Oxford. They will travel to Birmingham Tuesday.

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