One-A-Days

The Rebels had, as will be the case each week during the season, Monday off as is mandatory by NCAA rule. They resumed working out Tuesday, the first practice of the year after a day of classes.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze, having been around the August block a lot of times in his career, was anticipating a "down" day on Tuesday after players attended a full day of classes and then had a late afternoon practice.

What did he get?

"It's a tough day with classes, study hall, weights, tutoring, film study, practice, etc. - consequently, there was not as much energy as we needed to be a great team," said Freeze. "We got some good work in, but it was about what I expected, to be honest.

"We have to get them accustomed to long Tuesdays. They'll get the hang of it. We will handle the next Tuesday than we did this one."

Freeze said the coaches are ready for the opening game and he feels his team is too.

"We are all anxious. We want to see how we are going to respond with live bullets flying. I joke with the coaches the other day that I might be the first coach to do away with fall camp," he laughed and joked. "We are the Rebels - we might lead the way. I think we could almost get as much done if we just worked four hours a day after classes start."

All kidding aside, the 2 1/2 weeks of fall camp were what Freeze was looking for.

"I was very pleased. We raised the level of expectations and the energy was high the whole time," he noted. "I'm happy. The nagging injuries are worrisome, but I think we'll be OK."



Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze

Freeze said he has in his mind who is the leader at quarterback.

"I will probably name a starter next week, but I intend to give them all a chance. Ultimately, what they do in the games is what counts, but I do have in my mind who is ahead now," he noted. "This week is important to solidify that though."

On defense, one of the question marks, from a mental standpoint, is how MLB C.J. Johnson will run the defense against an offense that is not name Ole Miss.

"We are going to find out pretty soon. We are anxious to see how he handles the checks and the motions and everything that goes with it," Freeze allowed. "I know he is extremely good when you blitz him."

Chief Brown is playing three positions - Rover, free safety, Husky.

"He's very valuable because he can play three positions. That is rare and he will be used. He's kind of like Collins Moore and Cody Core on offense - they can play all receiver slots and that valuable," Freeze explained.

Trae Elston is getting kudos from Freeze at the FS slot.

"He's a senior and doing a great job leading and running the secondary. I couldn't be happier," Hugh said.

Any surprises from two-a-days?

"WR Van Jefferson is going to be very good, DaMarkus Lodge to, but it remains to be seen if they will play this year. They are good enough to, but we don't want to waste a year if they aren't going to play a lot. We would like to play eight and I feel god about eight or nine," he closed. "Also, I think Alex Givens is going to be a really good OL in time. I hope we don't have to play him this year and we can let him mature."

Random Notes:

* Senior TB Jaylen Walton is the smallest back on the roster at roughly 5-9, 180 pounds, but make no mistake - he is one ball of muscle with about 6% body fat. That's a wild guess, but it can't be too far off. Walton worked hard in the offseason to get thicker and accomplished his goal, adding eight pounds to his frame. He played last year at 172 and is now 180. No doubt, that will help the talented, proven back with his inside runs in his final collegiate campaign.



Ole Miss running back Akeem Judd

* TB Akeem Judd, who does not have a "small" issue at 225 pounds, has made an impact in fall camp and has given RB Coach Derrick Nix a third option that he can trust that he wasn't sure he had at the end of spring. According to insiders, Judd has earned Nix's confidence this fall camp by showing he is a "complete back with some wiggle and some power." At one point, he was considered insurance. Now he's considered a player who will impact. Throw in Jordan Wilkins, who is known to be able to "do it all" at 215 pounds, and you have a nice trio of backs to compliment each other as the season approaches.

* Another player who has taken advantage of fall camp and is apparently making himself known for at least special teams play is OLB Ray Ray Smith. It's pretty cool to see how players develop differently. Ray Ray kind of tread water for a couple of years, but now he has matured physically and the light has come on mentally and what seems like suddenly, Smith is getting attention from the coaches for possible playing time at OLB and almost certain special teams play.

* Most felt Tee Shepard would nail down one of the starting cornerback slots, but CB Coach Jason Jones has different designs for Tee. Kendarius Webster and Tony Bridges will most likely get the starting nod and Tee will most likely be the third corner, backing both up and probably getting as many reps as both of them.

* Tuesday, Chad Kelly took the number one snaps with the offense during the eight periods the media was allowed to watch practice. Does that mean much? Maybe, maybe not. We'll see.

* CB Kailo Moore missed practice with a bruised knee but is expected back in the fold in a few days. . . OG Rod Taylor (torn labrum) is not practicing and neither is TE Jeremy Liggins (hamstring) or Husky Tony Conner (bruised knee). None of them are expected to miss any game time, but there is no hurry to get any of them back on the practice field until they are healthy. "TE Willie Hibbler is out with a concussion, but he's on the road back," said Freeze. "Of these guys, Rod is probably the furthest out - a couple of weeks out."

* Rover Mike Hilton was in a green jersey signifying no contact, but he was practicing and nothing serious is wrong with him.

* WR Collins Moore, making a comeback after over a year of getting his injured knee "right," started August practice in a knee brace, but has abandoned it now. Apparently, Collins is feeling pretty good.

* Freshman CB Jalen "Batman" Julius was returning some kickoffs in practice Tuesday and while the work was not live, he looks like he has the goods to do that down the road - speed, vision and quickness aplenty. P.S. - C.J. Johnson has tagged him Batman.

* Twenty players are wearing X2 sensors behind their ears that measure impact, G-force of a hit, rotation of the head upon impact and where the hit takes place. The device is still in the experimental stages in terms of what the gathered data means, but already the coaches and trainers are able to use the location of the hit to their advantage. If a player is ducking their head or turning to the side, that info is revealed and that lack of technique can be corrected.

* In OL-DL one-on-ones, there were some interesting matchups. DE Fadol Brown and LT Laremy Tunsil is a battle of titans that nobody wins by much, if at all. . . Nobody on the OL we have seen can consistently block Robert Nkemdiche. Too much combination of speed and strength. . . DT David Jones and OG Aaron Morris going head to head is a battle of two bulls. David is the strongest player on the team, but Morris, coming off an injury, holds his own.

* Right now, the number one OL is LT Tunsil, LG Javon Patterson/Aaron Morris, C Robert Conyers, RG Justin Bell and RT Fahn Cooper. "If we played today, Conyers, Bell and Patterson would start inside, but this is a big week for Aaron. He's moving pretty good, but we need to see more of him full speed. I don't think he could play more than 30 plays right now," added Freze. "So far, he looks good. Also, Ben Still is going to play at center too. It's 1-A and 1-B at center."


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