First Two-A-Day

Thursday morning marked the first practice of the first true two-a-day. Coach Hugh Freeze was not disappointed overall, but he hopes the Rebs finish tonight's practice better than they did this morning's.

"Unfortunately, it seemed like we tried to endure today instead of embracing it. I know it's practice seven, but if we want to go from good to great we have to embrace each day," Freeze began. "There were some good things, it wasn't all bad, but the way we finished was not good and looked more like we were trying to get through it instead of embracing it.

"I'm anxious to see how the leadership on this team responds for tonight's practice. How far we go will largely depend on the leadership. I've challenged them to get back out and get after it tonight."

It's no surprise who Freeze believes are the leaders on the team.

"C.J. Johnson, Bo Wallace, Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell, D.T. (Shackelford) and Cody Prewitt lead the way. We have some good ones, but with the exception of D.T., most have not been in that role on this level before," Hugh noted. "Having said that, every player, every coach, every manager has to be responsible for the effort they give.

Ole Miss wide receiver Cody Core. (Photo credit Josh McCoy/Ole Miss athletics)

"We won't be perfect in everything, but we can be perfect in effort. That is what we are trying to impress on everyone and get accomplished right now."

The Rebs recruited length and speed last year and some of it is starting to surface.

"We wanted to get faster and longer. Our kids played really hard for two years and did some great things, but we have to add to them with some length and speed and from the early looks of things, I think we have done that," said Hugh. "Players like Marquis Haynes, Kendarius Webster, Tee Shepard, DeMarquis Gates, for example, fit that mold and they keep showing up every day.

"Once we get that green (not cleared for contact) jersey off Webster, he's going to be a good one. I'm anxious is to get him fully released."

The two positions on offense that need the most attention are center and right tackle. Freeze's assessment so far?

"At center, I am pleased with both Ben Still and Robert Conyers. Sometimes Robert (Nkemdiche) makes them look bad, but he's a tough block for anyone. We think he will make other centers in our league look bad," Freeze stated. "Mentally, they pick things up well and I have been pleased with their snaps. They have not thrown our timing off snapping the ball. I think we will be OK there.

Ole Miss wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow. (Photo credit Josh McCoy/Ole Miss athletics)

"At right tackle, Fahn Cooper has come on strong the last couple of days. Robert Conyers has looked good there too. Craig Frigo and Rod Taylor are also getting looks there. We are doing that by committee and Fahn seems to be emerging now that he has a better understanding, but Robert has done well too. Fahn's D1 experience is showing some now."

A lot has been mentioned about how Anthony Alford and Jeremy Liggins will be used this year. Freeze gave a strong hint today that both will get QB snaps.

"They will both have a quarterback package. We don't want to throw too much on them, but they will both be involved at QB," he stated.

Hugh expressed some disappointment in the backup QBs after Tuesday's practice, but he changed his tune a little Thursday.

"I've been real pleased with Ryan Buchanan the last two days. DeVante has also done some good things the last two days, but he made some bad decisions that have stood out in my mind," said Hugh. "I am still very confident in both of them, but I just needed them to be sharper.

"They need to get going. This is not their redshirt year anymore and they could be the guy at the drop of a hat. I need them to understand that and I think that message has come through here lately. They have had better days, especially Ryan. He's been real good the last two days."

Random Notes:

* Marquis Haynes is now working some at strong DE along with his duties on the weak side. "He's a tremendous athlete, but he's swimming a little mentally with the strong side because he's getting a lot of different looks with tight ends coming at him and things he's not used to," said Freeze. "He makes mistakes but he makes them going 100 miles an hour and we can live with that. We are very pleased with where he is and expect him to improve each day. We tried to get longer and faster at every position and he's an example of that coming along."

Ole Miss WR Cody Core and CB Mike Hilton. (Photo credit Josh McCoy/Ole Miss athletics)

* On Webster, the talented freshman CB, Freeze said this of his shoulder injury. "He's fully go in everything but live contact. He feels good. I expect him to be released soon." Webster had shoulder surgery in February.

* DT Issac Gross (neck stinger) should be back tomorrow. CB Kailo Moore (kidney bruise) should be back next Wednesday. DE Fadol Brown (ankle, boot) will be back around the middle of next week as well.

* The kicking game is being closely watched and hotly contested, according to Hugh. "Punter and placements will be a good battle. I still think Will Gleeson leads Gary Wunderlich in punting, but Gary has a really strong leg," he evaluated. "Gleeson gives us some out of the box options though. In placements, Andrew Fletcher, Andy Pappanastos and Gary are all about even. I love the height Wunderlich and Pappansatos kick with though."

* Some of the freshmen/newcomers continue to get rave, for freshmen, early reviews. It's been said MLB/OLB Gates may get some playing time this year. MLB Christian Russell is gaining ground quickly on Shackelford. RT Cooper "had a big day Tuesday and has followed up on that since." Husky A.J. Moore "has shown a fast, physical nature" as has his twin, S C.J. Moore. DE Victor Evans, DT Breeland Speaks and DE Garrald McDowell have already been given the "will be special in time" tag. OL Rod Taylor "is swimming right now, but athletically, he's everything, and some, he was advertised to be." The hope is to redshirt "as many as possible," but as one coach said "some of them are making that hard to do because they will be ready to play soon."

* The media was allowed to watch three periods of team drills Thursday and the one thing that stuck out was how the offense seems to be way ahead of schedule from normal Augusts. Usually, it takes the offense 10 days or so to "catch up" with the defense, but they are already making substantial plays. Experience is one of the keys.

* QB Bo Wallace made two deep throws today - one to Treadwell and one to Cody Core - that he could not make last year. The one to Quon was a 35 yard line drive bullet over the middle. The one to Core was a 55-yard toss for a 75-yard catch-and-run TD. Good signs.

* Journeyman Cliff Coleman has been moved yet again. In spring, he was at corner. The first few days of August, he was at Husky. Now he is as FS backing up Cody Prewitt.

* Saturday's practice at 9:45 a.m. will be open to the public. It will not be a formal scrimmage, but there will be plenty of team drills and fans can get an idea of where the Rebs are now. Right now, it is the only practice scheduled that is open to the public.

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