Creating Competition

The Rebels went full steam ahead Wednesday morning in full pads with quite a bit of full contact. The results drew mixed reviews from Coach Hugh Freeze, but one thing was crystal clear - the coaches make everything a competition where a "score" is kept.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

"4-3 defense!"

"6-4 offense!"

You hear Freeze citing a play score in almost every team drill. A point for whoever wins a play. . .

It's called creating competition and it's not new to football practices, but it is an effective tool which is being employed by this coaching staff more and more, it seems.

"We want to see how they compete. Keeping score is one way to do that. Today, the defense had a little adversity for the first time, but that is reality. We want to create environments where we get the juices flowing and see how they respond, how they get after it, how they keep their composure. That's important in games, obviously," noted Freeze.

As far as the day went, Freeze said he did not "feel great" about the practice, overall.

"I mean, there was some good competition. I just didn't feel great about it," he said. "Offense won their share and the defense won their share, but it just didn't seem like the zeal and passion was there like we need.

"I understand that to a point. It's that point in August drills, but great teams find a way to have great practices."

Hugh Freeze
Chuck Rounsaville

An area Freeze does not seem pleased with is the decision-making of his quarterbacks. Today, for instance, Bo Wallace opened up "dirty ball" with two interceptions - one on a deep ball by Cody Prewitt and one on a crossing pattern by Trae Elston.

"It's totally decision-making right now," Freeze injected. "I'm not happy with where we are right now, not at all. I don't know if it's rust from missing spring or what. I wish I could answer that. Right now, Bo is making bad decisions.

"He had that kind of camp last year, but he also struggled with that during the season last year. I'm sure hoping at some point we mature more. Just because you go through your progressions and you get to number three, it doesn't mean you have to throw it there if he's covered. That is happening too much. We are not good enough adn deep enough to turn it over and expect to win."

Random Notes:

* RT Pierce Burton has been sitting out the team drills the past few days, but today he got back in the scrum after having lower back tightness. "He could have been going," said Freexe, "but I want him well. He knows all there is to know and I want him well."

* DE C.J. Johnson sat out the morning practice because he's going to try to go tonight for the first time this year. "We decided he and Issac (Gross) don't need to go but one practice right now," noted Freeze. "We opted for tonight. I don't know what we will get out of them, but we have our fingers crossed, especially with C.J."

* Tailback Kailo Moore and DE Cameron Whigham were added to the mash unit today when both got dings to the head. They will have to go through the required concussion tests before resuming practice. . . DE Carlos Thompson is going through the same thing right now and has missed the last two days of work.

* Elston got some post-practice kudos from Freeze. "He's been really, really solid. I expect him to have a great year. He got his nose bloodied a little last year as a true, but now he has experience and is looking like a veteran," Freeze stated. . . Elston gets what Freeze is saying. "The game has slowed down for me so much. That has allowed me to play faster and not think as much," Elston said. "I'm just playing on instincts now."

Robert Nkemdiche
Chuck Rounsaville

* CB Charles Sawyer had major rotator cuff repair on his left shoulder in the offseason. It was hoped he'd be ready for August practice. As you know, he has not been able to work yet. When will he? Nobody knows, but as days click off and the opening kickoff gets nearer and nearer, time is running out. Sawyer is supposed to see his doctor today. Hopefully he will get some good news soon.

* A quick first impression of the freshmen QBs - Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan - from team sources indicates a high level of satisfaction about their futures. Kincade has a quick release and strong arm. Ryan also has a quick release and makes good decisions. Obviously, the coaches would prefer redshirting both. Will they be able to? Time will tell.

* When you are putting together a kickoff unit, you have to have a) speed and b) a little bulk in the personnel you choose. Here are some top names for the Rebs' kickoff unit - Tony Connor, Keith Lewis, Quintavius Burdette, Kailo Moore, Denzel Nkemdiche, Temario Strong, Cody Core, Mike Hilton, Chief Brown, Serderius Bryan, Trae Elston and Cody Prewitt all fit the bill.

* Freshman TB Jordan Wilkins got more of a taste of carrying the ball today in live drills and made a good showing for himself. He's got good power and can make a move to get more yardage. Tough runner.

* In team competition drills, Kincade found Slot Receiver Laquon Treadwell for a 30-yard score and then found Quincy Adeboyjo for a 70-yard score. Both throws were against the number two defense, but they were pretty nonetheless.

* The team competition was tied 12-12 with one play to decide the winner. The snap count drew the defense offsides. Win for the offense, frustration for the defense for it to end that way. (A four-yard gain is a point for the offense. Less is a point for the defense.)

* CB Senquez Golson remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. . Freshman TE Evan Engram is undergoing IV treatment for a staph infection and will probably miss one more day.

* Sometimes, while viewing practices, the tendency is to get caught up on the "new" and to take for granted the "old." Hence, S Cody Prewitt's coverage by us thus far. Suffice it to say, Cody is a stalwart. He makes plays daily and never seems to be out of position. He has solidified himself as the leader of the secondary and the guy who makes all the checks. He is now playing faster than ever and seems far more comfortable than he was last season. He should have a sterling campaign this year.

* The Rebs' second practice today is closed, to media and the public.

OM Spirit Top Stories