Tune-ups & 'Tryouts'

Ole Miss dressed out in helmets and shell shoulder pads today for a light, 15-period practice that concentrated on tuning up some things that needed correcting and extensive reps for some of the backups and redshirts.

In Monday's press conference, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze said the practices during the open week would be light, but there were definite things he wanted to see his team work on.

He held true to that statement Wednesday in an hour-and-a-half workout with no pads in which all phases of the special teams were addressed extensively and the players not getting much playing time got extra reps, starting at quarterback where starter Bo Wallace was sidelined with a case of pink eye, which seems to be working its way around Oxford/Ole Miss right now.

Redshirt QBs Devante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan got the bulk of the reps with the offense today with a little bit of Barry Brunetti, who has definitely gained confidence in his passing ability in recent weeks.

"We had planned to give them a lot of reps regardless of whether or not Bo was at practice or not," said Freeze. "They both displayed positive things. Ryan knows where the ball should go and when it should get out of his hand. He needs a year to get his arm strength up and get a quicker release. Devante is kind of the opposite. He has a quick release and good arm strength but he's still learning where to go with the ball and the timing of things.

"I am pleased with both of them and will give them more reps this week to get more looks."

Freeze was asked about the redshirts in general, who are also getting major looks this week.

"We don't have a lot of them, but we are getting them all reps," noted Hugh. "I think Paul (Jackson) is doing a great job with them. Their bodies are changing and they are gaining good mass.

"Guys like Jordan Wilkins and some other are put together the right way and will be good football players for us down the line."

Mark Dodson
Chuck Rounsaville

Freeze was impressed with what he saw from freshman TB Mark Dodson in the Idaho game, but there is a dilemma - the TB slot is crowded, especially with Jeff Scott on the cusp of returning after missing a couple of weeks with a bruised thigh.

"It's hard to get them all what they want, but when you run like Mark ran the other night, he will get more looks in practice when we put the pads back on and go from there. We will try our best to get him a package put together if he keeps coming," noted Freeze. "We liked him in spring and then he got injured. We liked him in fall camp and then he got injured. He's had two setbacks that have hurt his progress, but he's healthy now and maybe he will emerge."

Random Notes:

* Senior Ja-Mes Logan has been one of the Wallace's top targets the past two seasons. Freeze likes their chemistry and knows why. "Ja-Mes understands and feels coverages and he can catch the ball in tight spots, which makes a QB feel good. He will protect you from the tight coverage by going after the ball," noted Freeze. "That's what I see - trust."

* LB Serderius Bryant sprained his elbow in the Idaho game and had to come out, but he was back at practice today and Freeze confirmed he's "fine."

* Tempo offense's around the country are putting up big numbers. Does that entice players to come to a school that runs tempo/spread offenses? "It lures some," said Freeze. "Wide receivers, athletic tight ends who want to catch passes and quarterbacks like it. I don't think it matters to running backs and O-Linemen."

* TB Jeff Scott dressed out Tuesday and, according to Freeze, "he looked much better." He didn't participate in team drills, but he went through some indo and skelly and "did a nice job."

* As Freeze said Monday, DE Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring), CB Charles Sawyer (quad bruise), CB Mike Hilton (hamstring), LB Denzel Nkemdiche (ankle), DT Issac Gross (ribs), and Wallace did not practice today. "We are going to let those who are nicked up rest this week. We need them healthy and won't rush them back this week," Hugh stated.

* DE Cameron Whigham (neck stinger) and LB/DE Temario Strong (neck) did practice Tuesday full speed.

* Confidence is an amazing thing. After throwing three TD passes in recent weeks and completing 7-7 passes against Idaho, Brunetti looks very sharp throwing the ball right now. Nothing is different mechanically. It's apparent, he's simply gained confidence and it's showing in his play.

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