Heat Is On

Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze didn't claim Thursday morning's practice was perfect, but it was more to his liking form an energy and intensity standpoint.

"We had a good, physical practice. It was not a complete practice from every position, but the energy was good. The coaches' energy was better as well. We have to bring it too," said Freeze. "We can't ask them to do something we are not willing to do.

"It was a really good, physical practice overall."

A barrage of questions from the media followed after Freeze's opening comments, starting with RG Justin Bell, who is running with the first offense in place of Patrick Junen, still recovering from offseason wrist and toe surgeries.

"Justin is doing OK. He's coming. He has his strengths and things he needs to work on, like everyone," Hugh noted. "No question he is a physical presence in there. He's better in the run game than pass pro right now, but he's working on it."

Thursday, Jared Duke was running with the number one offense in front of Aaron Morris.

"It's about effort, man," Freeze stated. "You have to give effort every day. Jared is giving great effort right now. In a competitive setting it's about what you did today. Did you win today? It's not what you did two days ago or last year. Did you bring it today?"

Back in spring, DC Dave Wommack said he would use D.T. Shackelford some at defensive end. Today was the day that experiment got off the ground.

Jared Duke
Chuck Rounsaville

"We played him exclusively at DE today," Freeze responded. "He plays with a wide open motor. He is such a great leader. Guys rally around him. His movement is a lot better than it was in spring. I think he's getting more and more comfortable."

Yesterday, Hugh was not a happy coach about the performance of QB Bo Wallace. Today, better.

"He was better. He still made some mistakes, but he's being real coachable right now and that's a good thing. Bo doesn't want to mess up any more than any of these kids, but his are much more noticeable," Freeze explained. "He made some nice throws today. He only had two bad mistakes, on down and distance stuff, that stood out. My first question was 'did you know the down and distance?' He said he did but he will have to convince me he did.

"His shoulder is sound. The doctors were here yesterday and where it was operated on is sound. He's just having some soreness he will have to work through. Ryan Appling had the same surgery at Arkansas State and said it took him a month or so to get where his biceps and elbow area were not hurting. I think it's getting better, but he will have to keep working through it."

DE C.J. Johnson got his first work last night, which did not last long before he started hurting some. Today, C.J. went longer and harder.

"He seemed to handle things better today. He will also have to play through some pain," noted Freeze. "He'll just have to play himself into shape and everything will be fine. He hung in there better today."

Random Notes:

* Freshman TB Kailo Moore, DE Cameron Whigham and DE Carlos Thompson are all out right now going through the required concussion protocol after a head trauma. Carlos should be close to coming back. Kailo and Cameron were both injured yesterday.

* Freshman TE Evan Engram has been undergoing a couple of days of IV antibiotics for staph infection. Today will be his last battery of antibiotics. He should return to practice tomorrow if all goes well.

* Freshman Husky Tony Connor is starting to turn some heads. Wommack said all the installations are over for all the base packages so now it will be repetition time and not much else new put in until gameplan week. That should help guys like Connor and S Derrick Jones and DE Robert Nkemdiche advance on a more accelerated rate. Tony had a QB sack and an interception in drill work Thursday. "His eyes wander at times and he gets out of position, but that's to be expected right now. He's everything we thought he would be and he will play this year," said Freeze.

C.J. Johnson
Chuck Rounsaville

* With Thompson and Whigham out, Nkemdiche and C.J. got most of the reps at DE with the number one defense. Channing Ward and D.T. were backing them in team work today.

* OL Robert Conyers has been working some in pre-practice drills snapping the ball, but today was the first time he has been inserted at center in team scrimmage situations. All shotgun snaps were good, which is good sign number one.

* The wide receivers work an interesting drill with the jugs machine turned up at full speed shooting bullet passes at them. They start out at about 8 yards and work forward with each "throw" until they are roughly 3 yards from the jugs machine. Great drill that really tests their hand quickness and hand-eye coordination.

* Chief Brown got a lot of reps Thursday at number one Rover ahead of Trae Elston. Wommack has been saying since spring that Chief is his most improved player in the secondary and would play a lot. He can play both sides and will likely be the third safety in the mix with Elston and FS Cody Prewitt. Chief is considered a starter in the eyes of the coaches.

* With Senquez Golson (hamstring) and Charles Sawyer (shoulder) out, the number two CBs right now are freshman Bobby Hill and sophomore Anthony Standifer. Standifer outwrestled Cody Core on a deep pass Thursday for an interception. P.S. - The word going around right now is that Sawyer has been told by his doctors he can make his full comeback on August 26th, the Monday before the opener.

* Safety Brishen Mathews continues to be hobbled with a hamstring issue.

* The defense won both team competition periods Thursday. They took the first one 12-8 and the second one, a third-down situational competition with different down-and-distances, 13-10.

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