After Saturday's scrimmage, Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner had a chance to exhale.
With a lot of key players out due to injury on the offensive side of the ball, it's been tough sledding for his guys, but in Saturday's scrimmage, which was and up-tempo affair from start to finish, the Rebel offense got in a few shots of their own.
"This was our best day this spring," Werner said. "As coaches, we understand how good our defense is and that we are playing with a lot of our main guys out, so we know it's going to be tough, but we challenged our guys today.
"We told them this could happen during the season and it's time to step it up and produce. I thought they responded well. We went very fast today and seemed to handle it much better than earlier this spring. We didn't have any turnovers, which is huge for us and a point of emphasis."
Everyone - literally everyone - wants to know about the QB race. Dan is being about as general as Hugh Freeze with his response.
"I'm pleased with all three of them. As I said, we didn't have any turnovers today, which is our top priority. Number two on our list, they didn't do anything to cause any negative plays," he assessed. "And I think they they handled the tempo really well today.
"The things I preach to our quarterbacks, they handled today."
Dan did say JUCO transfer Chad Kelly is catching on to the playbook and terminology "very well."
"It's amazing how quickly he picks things up. You tell him once and he gets it and we move on. Normally, that's not the case - you have to go over it a few times. He's been a real quick study," Dan allowed. "The big thing we are trying to get across this spring is that they don't have to make a big play every snap and that they have guys who can make plays around them. They have all done real well with that concept and that line of thinking."
Dan has been pleased with the progress of the offensive linemen who are available, all things considered.
"I looked out there one day and our first unit had five linemen who had never started a game for us," he said. "Going against one of the best DLs in the country, that's tough, but they are battling. I think everyone saw that today.
"I think we are making progress there, despite not having some key players available."
Even without Laquon Treadwell, Cody Core and Markell Pack, the Rebel receivers made plays Saturday.
"Normally we'd be nervous without those three, but we've got some depth there and we've got some guys like Demore'ea Strinfellow and Derrick Jones and Quincy (Adeboyejo) and Q. Burdette and Dayall (Harris) who can make plays. They want playing time and they are out there fighting for it," Dan continued. "String is a lot like Quon in that he's so strong and physical. Derrick is really fast and athletic. He's becoming a real playmaker.
"And when you throw Evan Engram and Sammie Epps into the mix, we can be really good at receiver when we get those other three back and going."
Without TBs Jordan Wilkins and Eugene Brazley, and with an eye toward not risking Jaylen Walton much this spring, Akeem Judd got a full dose of carries Saturday.
"He's a physical back. He made a couple of good runs today, especially in short yardage. I think he's a guy who can really help us next year in an area where we have been missing out," Dan closed.
This spring has not been a lot of fun for the offensive side of the ball, for obvious reasons, but Saturday, there were a few more smiles on that side of the ball.
Offense has 'best day'
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