Back At It

After a day (Sunday) away from practice, the Rebels resumed workouts this morning, the first of two today. A couple of the injured returned to duty and one missed due to an injury sustained in Saturday's scrimmage.

The Rebel defense "dominated" Saturday's scrimmage. . . .

. . . not so Monday morning, according to Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze.

"We had a really good day. The defensive coaches don't feel that way, but the offense did well," said Freeze. "The offense certainly answered from Saturday's results. They created a lot of big plays and a lot of scoring. They won the Red Zone competition and the third-down competition. There were no turnovers. The quarterbacks took care of the ball.

"It was one of our better days offensively. The execution was pretty good coming off a day off. Saturday, we weren't as bad as I thought we were on offense nor as good as I thought we were on defense. On defense, we gave up too many good plays and on offense we didn't sustain any drives, but Bo (Wallace) was 6-11 with three drops in the rain. He only made one bad decision. My point is that it is never as good as it seems or as bad as it seems after you watch the film."

When asked what a realistic number of true freshmen playing, Freeze said "a bunch" in response.

"Tony Connor, Robert Nkemdiche, Derrick Jones, maybe Bobby Hill, who is coming on, on defense," he stated. "On offense, Laquon (Treadwell), Laremy Tunsil, several tailbacks, Evan Engram, Quincy (Adeboyjo), Austin Golson - quite a few."

The key to playing freshmen is for the coaches to make sure they are well-schooled before throwing them in the fire.

"If they don't know what they are doing, they won't have success and you don't want to put them in that situation as coaches," Hugh explained. "It's a challenge for our coaches to make sure they understand what they are supposed to do and all the variables of what can happen when you adjust or make checks. We also have to make sure they understand the packages and mix well with the veterans. From a chemistry standpoint, though, they have blended in well."

Denzel tags Bo
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Freeze said it's a little early to make a call on this incoming class, but he has not been disappointed.

"The thing I am most excited about is that even though a lot of them were highly recruited and ranked, their attitude and work ethic has been excellent," he continued. "They are like sponges. Sometimes highly recruited kids are not that way, but ours want to work and get better. They are just great kids."

CBS reported the NCAA is snooping around the recruitment of MSU freshman DE Chris Jones, including the Rebels involvement.

"I have no clue. I know nothing about it," Freeze said. "I hope that I'm the only one that deals with it. I certainly don't want it to affect what our team is doing, what our coaches are doing. I'm confident in the way that we go about things. I've said that from day one. Whoever their sources are I'm sure they'll check them out the same way they have everyone, but again I'm very confident in the way we are going about our business here and the way we want to do it.

"We got to get ready for Vandy, so we certainly can't let whatever all that is affect us. I'm certain the NCAA doesn't talk about it, so I don't know where you're getting it. You all tell me where you're getting it, and we'll try to figure out what is going on."

Random Notes:

* DE Carlos Thompson, who missed most of last week due to a concussion, returned to practice Monday. Carlos was running with the first team until C.J. Johnson returned to action after a long injury rehab. C.J. ran with the ones Monday.

* DE Cameron Whigham, who missed part of last week with a concussion, also returned to practice Monday. He split time with freshman Robert Nkemdiche with the first unit. Channing Ward also figured into that equation substantially. That is shaping up to be a formidable position if Nkemdiche and Ward keep advancing. Nkediche tweaked a groin in Saturday's scrimmage, but was involved in most drills and team work this morning.

* TB Kailo Moore is still out with a concussion, but is expected back later this week.

* TE Evan Engram, who missed part of last week with a staph infection, is back and is now 100%.

* DT Issac Gross, recovering from two groin operations in the offseason, did some work Monday for the first time. "Gross went through the whole practice. We will hold him out tonight, but today he looked pretty good in his comeback," Freeze noted.

* OG Patrick Junen, who is recovering from toe and wrist surgery in the offseason, went through some individual, non-contact drills today. The word in camp is that he is close to returning.

* CB Charles Sawyer indicated late last week he has been cleared to return to practice the 26th of August. That has now been moved up to next Monday, fingers crossed.

Patrick Junen
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* CB Senquez Golson remains sidelined with a hamstring pull. It is anticipated he will try to return next week. The coaches want him fully healthy before he tries to come back so the injury will not nag him into the season due to coming back too soon. "He's better, definitely, but we want him completely healthy. We don't want any lingering soreness or anything," Freeze stated.

* S Brishen Mathews remains sidelined with a pulled hamstring as well. His return date is not known at this juncture.

* TB I'tavius Mathers, according to the coaches, had the best production of any running back Saturday, but he rolled an ankle late in the scrimmage. He missed practice today. The extent/severity of his injury is not known right now.

* The good thing about Sawyer and Golson being out is that Dehendret Collins and Quintavius Burdette have been getting the reps with the number one offense and have started to turn some heads on the coaching staff.

* Most special teams coaches like to have one big body and one speedster back deep on kickoff returns. Ole Miss' Tom Allen is factoring in for that possibility in practice by putting freshman TB Jordan Wilkins, a bigger frame, deep to handle some kickoffs in practice. Jaylen Walton, Kailo Moore and Mark Dodson have also been working as the deep men on KOR.

* There has been a lot of talk the last couple of days about freshman QB Devante Kincade and whether or not he will redshirt this year. It's too early for that decision - there's still a lot of learning, teaching and evaluating to do before that decision will be made, but he's getting his chances to make his mark in practice. Today, Kincade split reps in the Red Ball team period with Barry Brunetti with the number two offense.

* The opening play of Red Ball was a winner for the offense. QB Bo Wallace hooked up with WR Donte Moncrief on a 25-yard inside route and Moncrief proceeded to split the defense and take it 70 yards to the house. . . Later in the Red Ball period, Wallace again found Moncrief for a 25-yard gain.

* Last week, LG Jared Duke had moved ahead of Aaron Morris on the depth chart. Today, Aaron took back over the top spot. "Aaron had a better day than Jared did Saturday. We need them both. The competition is good," said Freeze. "Aaron's effort was better and he graded higher Saturday. We have to win up front and the way to do that is play hungry. We will create competition to keep them hungry."

* Legendary Rebel Archie Manning was at practice today. Unfortunately, he didn't look real spry at the moment. Archie underwent major back surgery in Memphis recently and was wearing a back brace and walking with a cane. He is in the midst of a six-month rehab. He said he's getting better daily and is determined to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Best wishes to the Ole Miss hero.

* The media is now being limited to four periods of viewing practice daily. That's about 30 minutes. Random notes will not be as easy to come by as full-practice attendance, but we will do out best.

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