Offensive Shift

Spring football practices have come and gone, and Ole Miss football is well into its off-season strength and conditioning program.

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The Rebels wrapped spring with the annual Grove Bowl game some two weeks ago. Now, head coach Hugh Freeze is on the road for the Rebel Road Trip, Ole Miss' tour of the region that is hitting 11 stops, including Jackson, Tupelo, Biloxi and Oxford, this week.

While on a break from the road on Tuesday, Freeze provided an update in a phone interview with the Ole Miss Spirit on quarterback Bo Wallace, as well as changes to the offensive terminology entering his third season at Ole Miss.

Freeze said Wallace and his surgically repaired shoulder responded well to 15 spring practices. Wallace will next spend a week with former major league pitcher Tom House in May. House, who Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner said he learned about while watching an episode of the HBO series "Real Sports," works primarily with pitchers and quarterbacks. He focuses on improving mechanics to prevent further injury.

"I think he's on his way," Freeze said of Wallace. "It's definitely in better shape than it was at the end of the season due to the off-season workout he was able to go through in January and February. And we'll get him out to that specialist in May, and he'll have all May, June and July to continue to rehab and work out."

Hugh Freeze
Petre Thomas

House has worked with, among others, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Carson Palmer. Wallace started all 13 games for Ole Miss last season, passing for 3,346 yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed 283 of his 437 attempts, was intercepted 10 times and rushed for 355 yards and six touchdowns on 131 carries.

"The structure of the shoulder's good now," Freeze said. "We've just got to get it rehabbed and strengthen it. I was real pleased with how he handled himself in spring as far as preparing and studying. We didn't give him a ton of reps basically because we really wanted to have time (for the shoulder) to get to full strength, and we needed to get those other guys a lot of reps, too. I was real pleased with his spring."

Wallace is entering his senior season as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC. He led the Rebels to a combined 15 wins over his first two seasons, including an 8-5 record and Music City Bowl win last season.

Expectations are high for Wallace and Ole Miss in 2014. Freeze said the message to his team won't change: win today and focus only on Boise State. The Rebels open against the Broncos Aug. 28 as a part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff.

"I don't know if you can totally shield them from it," Freeze said. "The message they'll get from within our walls and in our building will hopefully overwhelm anything that's out there that may cause them to lose focus on the task at hand today."

The Ole Miss offense will sound much different come kickoff against Boise State. Freeze said, in the spring, he scrapped the terminology and cadences he's used for years.

He had his reasons.

"I've used the same signals, terminology for years," he said. "When you get into the FBS level and your staff starts scattering out to different places, you want to be sure you give your kids the best chance to succeed, and part of that may be the way you communicate.

"So, I just felt like it was kind of a good time to scrap and start over. Our kids actually handled it quite a bit better than me. I'm the one who struggled more than they did because I've done it for so long. But it's going to be a good thing."

Freeze said the change didn't deter the Rebels from getting their work done. However, they were unable to get into much, if any, tempo.

"They're fine with it," Freeze said. "The only thing we did not do enough of is tempo. We'll start day one of fall camp. They'll have not only heard it through spring, but all through the summer and their individual workouts and when the team gets together and does things. They'll be using it, and then it will be time for us to go fast like we want to go fast when fall camp starts."

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