Bowl Prep Continues
There's nothing that will infuse some energy into a late-season practice session like players who haven't seen much action getting a chance to show their wares to their coaches.
That has been the main "theme" for this week's Rebel practices for the Peach Bowl.
"It's two-fold," said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze. "We can rest some of the weary and get a lot of kids some important reps for the future, but we are taking care of business with the older guys as well, getting them familiar with TCU and our Peach Bowl gameplan."
Freeze even threw some fun into Wednesday's practice, which was mostly a mental day with half-speed reps being the norm.
Before practice started, Freeze acted as the quarterback and let the offensive and defensive lines square of in some one-on-one pas drills. The defense won the overall competition, which, was, definitely, a competition.
"They got after it," smiled Freeze. "We just wanted to have a little fun with them at the first of practice today before we got down to business. The defense won the battle, but I was really impressed with the athleticism of (freshman OG) Rod Taylor. He and Laremy Tunsil held their own in the drill from an athletic standpoint. On defense, Marquis Haynes and Robert Nkemdiche really showed off. Great athletes. It was a lot of fun."
Freeze was fresh off a big day recruiting, signing four top JUCO players - LB Terry Caldwell, QB Chad Kelly, CB Tony Bridges and DT D.J. Jones.
"We are absolutely thrilled with the results of the day. They fit with us and fits needs we have to make sure our depth is what it needs to be compete in this conference," he noted. "Chad creates more depth and competition at QB, which we felt we needed - it will make them all better and none of them are afraid to compete. Losing Senquez (Golson), gave us a need for a mature corner and Tony can step right in at that. We lost Bryon Bennett and Lavon Hooks up front on the DL and to sign D.J. is a tremendous addition. We lost three LBs, so Terry will fill in nicely there. All four at tremendous players and come from great families.
"Barney Farrar did a great job leading the charge on the JUCO kids. His relationships in the JUCO ranks were very beneficial to our success. Barney recruited those kids hard and he deserves a lot of credit."
* Only one Rebel. DE C.J. Johnson, sent in papers to the NFL for junior evaluation, Freeze said. "I feel confident he will be back with us, but he wanted to get evaluated and I thought that was a good idea for him moving forward," Freeze added.
* Freeze said he expects CB Tee Sheperd and OLB Denzel Nkemdiche to be ready for spring training and Laquon Treadwell "will be close. "Tee started running the other day. He is tender and sore, but well on his way to healing 100%," noted Freeze.
* On Jones: "He is explosive. We feel he can contribute right away. We feel he can play nose or three-technique. We are very excited to have him," said Freeze.
* Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade have gotten all the reps in practice this week at QB. "They have had a great week, both of them," said Freeze. "It has really helped them to get all these reps. They are both running the offense with more authority and doing well in the passing game. People have to understand that they just haven't had the reps they need to progress like we know they can. I think they will both have outstanding springs, along with Chad. It will be a fun spring sorting all of this out."
* We've discussed some young skill players in the last couple of practice reports, but what about a couple of the young big guys? Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, both redshirt freshman OL, have been making a positive impression. "Sean has gotten a lot stronger this year and he's tough. He also has some quick twitch," said Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson. "I think he has a good future here. Jordan has done a real good job of losing weight, which has helped his movement a lot. He's lost around 40 pounds. He'll start gaining more strength when he gets his weight down a little more and gets in better shape. I also believe he will be a good player in the future." Rawlings is penciled in as a center and Sims a guard.
* We probably haven't said enough about the week WR Demore'ea Stringfellow has had. Imagine another Laquon Treadwell in size, strength and speed. Is he as good? We shall see, but he is certainly imposing physically and has made a lot of plays this week. Also imagine him and Quon out wide and Cody Core in the slot. Three big receivers who can manhandle the average DB. Intriguing possibilities.
* Freshman PK Gary Wunderlich is finally back in the groove and is full strength after struggling with a hamstring pull the last part of the season. He fought through it and did well, making a field goal and all PATs against MSU in the Egg Bowl, but he wasn't "right." Now he is. Today, from various distances ranging from 28 to 50 yards in field goal drills, Wunderlich did not miss in 12 attempts we charted.
* As was the case yesterday, QB Bo Wallace and MLB D.T. Shackelford rested and did not participate in practice Wednesday. Bo is mending an ankle. D.T. is resting a sore knee.
* CB Senquez Golson, who missed yesterday with a stomach virus, came back to practice today, but RB Mark Dodson (ankle) sat out again.
* The rest of the practices this week, through Saturday, will be closed to the media, so there will be no interviews or practice reports until the Rebs meet back up in Atlanta on the 26th.
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