Competition Friday

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze made a deal with the team prior to spring training. Give me what you got Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and we'll have fun on Fridays. He lived up to his word Friday with a competition practice which pitted mostly young players against each other.

Freeze has been handing out kudos left and right about the effort his team has given him this spring, so, as he promised, he gave them a reward, of sorts, at Friday's practice.

"We did some different competition stuff," Freeze said, "but mostly it was to get the young guys a look and I think they enjoyed it and the older guys enjoyed pulling for them and getting a little bit of a break.

"As long as the guys will give me everything they've got on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, we'll keep doing this. If not, we'll reevaluate."

While the effort and intensity angle has been top shelf through six practices, what about the execution, the performance of the team?

"We have a lot to do in that area," he said. "With the number of new kids we have on the offensive line, and on defense like Fadol Brown and Anthony Alford and some others we are trying to blend in, we are in a learning curve.

"For six days of practice, we aren't behind, but we still have a ways to go in execution. We are making progress though. I'm pleased with the progress."

Freeze mentioned some of the "young guys" who have caught his eye during spring training.

"(JUCO OG) Craig Frigo has a chance to help us.He has done some real physical things," noted Freeze. "Also (DT Herbert) Moore has done done some good things. He is a first and second down two-gapper, he is what he is, but he's hard to move and plays with a good motor.

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

"Wideouts Collins Moore and Quincy Adeboyejo have had good springs and I think (Safety) C.J. Hampton is going to be a nice player and will have to help us next year. (DE) Marquis Haynes is extremely athletic and has a lot to learn, but once we harness his talent, he can be special."

Sophomore CB Derrick Jones has also gotten more comfortable on the coverage island and is impressing his mentor.

"He has a lot more confidence now and is going against some good receivers one on one and holding his own," he said. "He still has development to go because he has never played there before, but he has the tools to be a really good one."

Saturday morning's practice - at 11 a.m. in the stadium and open to the public - is expected to be high energy and physical.

"That's what we want," said Freeze. "We are going to have a first down competition, 2nd-and-7 competition, 3rd-and-short competition, Red Zone and Red Ball competitions. It will be live with most of the ones and twos with each getting about 50 plays each."

Random Notes:

* The Rebels had a field goal competition Friday between Andy Pappanastos and Andrew Fletcher. Pappanastos hit 6-6 with a long of 48 yards and Fletcher was 5-6 with a long of 42. He missed from 47 out on a windy day. "I'd would say Andy is ahead right now. I love the way the ball gets up so quickly," Freeze evaluated. "I like the way it comes off his foot. He just needs to show me more consistency. He had a good day today, but Fletcher actually got the better of him late in practice. We'll keep competing and see how it shakes out."

* Two Nashville recruits were in town at practice Friday. Ugo Amadi, a cornerback, and Bryce Mathews, and OL from Brentwood Academy, both watched practice.

* Haynes showed why the coaches are so high on him with two plays Friday. On one, QB Jeremy Liggins was rolling right away from Haynes. Marquis looped around into the backfield and chased Liggins down for a sack near the sidelines for no gain. On another, RB I'tavius Mathers was heading around right end away from Haynes again and he chased I-Train, no slow back, down for a minimal gain. Both times, he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Speed, baby.

* Backup MLB Christian Russell, a JUCO transfer, is somewhat lost right now, but when he gets honed in on his assignments, he shows a burst also. Good speed for an MLB.

* We get asked frequently, is Liggins still exclusively at quarterback? There is talk of him getting some tight end work as well this spring. So far, he is exclusively at QB.

Robert Nkemdiche
Chuck Rounsaville

* Now that Austin Golson, who is making excellent progress at RT, is full speed and Robert Conyers has been moved solely to center, there is a real good battle going on between him and Ben Still. Conyers' brief visit at RT threw him a little behind, but the coaches indicate he is catching up quickly to Still.

* The Channing Ward to TE experiment no longer looks like an experiment. It looks as if that will be a permanent move for Ward. His blocking has been very good and his route running and hands are "way better than expected."

* Fans see 6'8" on the roster for a tight end and naturally get excited. Jameel Best, a sophomore from Memphis, is that guy. Cool your excitement a bit for now, but keep holding out hope. We've been told Best is not ready for action yet, but he has potential. Maybe 2015. His issue? He has never played football before - he was a hoopster in high school.

* WR Vincent Sanders (hamstring), MLB Temario Strong (ankle) and DT Lavon Hooks (ankle) did not practice Friday.

* No word yet on who will win the punting job, but whoever it is will have some meat in front of him as personal protectors in the Rebel punt formation - Robert Nkemdiche, John Youngblood and Fadol Brown. Trying blasting through that trio. Better bring your lunch. . .

* WR John Ratliff and QB Ryan Buchanan are both trying their hand at holding for placements. Both did good jobs Friday - no snaps were mishandled and placements were done on time and accurately.

* Punt return? A mystery. Q. Mireles, Anthony Alford, Trae Elston, Quincy Adeboyejo, Jaylen Walton and Carlos Davis are all fielding punts right now. So far, Davis seems to be the most sure-handed, but that's just from one say's observation.

* The right side of the offensive line has some real potential with Golson, already a finished product, and RS freshman RG Daronte Bouldin, one of the strongest players on the team, meshing nicely thus far. Getting better daily and young. Golson, as you know, is just a sophomore. The future looks bright for the OL right side.

* Probably the most impressive play of the day came from the feet and arm of freshman QB Kendrick Doss. Seemingly trapped in the backfield, he sidestepped one rusher and and instant before getting hit by another unleashed a rope of about 40 yards to a streaking WR Cale Luke, who took it 65 yards for a TD. Impressive indeed.

* Want to see a good daily battle? Try CB Derrick Jones going against WR Laquon Treadwell all day long. It's making them both better.

* Signee DT Breeland Speaks was at practice also. He passes the look test and was getting an earful from the veterans as he watched drills. "Hey freshman,you think you are going to come in here and take my place? No way," they joked. Breeland took it the way it was delivered, with a smile.

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