Ole Miss needed a break Saturday, but they still needed to get some work done, so Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze got both goals accomplished.
"We had two long practices Friday and have a scrimmage set for Sunday, so we didn't go long today, but at the same time, we needed to clean some things up from Friday," said Freeze.
The Rebels worked in full pads, but there was very little contact until the very end with two periods of team work - ones versus ones, twos versus twos and threes versus threes.
"I saw some good things. We had two or three nice runs and the defense was flying around pretty good," he noted. "We need to carry that over to tomorrow because Monday is the start of classes. We need to really be tuned in tomorrow."
The Rebels will have the scrimmage tomorrow and then take Monday off, by rule.
* As Ben noted on our message board earlier, Greg Little, who injured his shoulder earlier in the week, returned to practice Friday and then worked full speed Saturday with the number two offense at left tackle. Good news for the talented freshman, who needs all the reps he can get while learning his plays and assignments.
* RB Jordan Wilkins, declared academically ineligible for 2016 earlier this week, does participate in practices. Some had asked that after the announcement he would not play this year and, frankly, we didn't know the answer, but we do now. He can practice and is practicing.
* With Wilkins gone, the pecking order at running back now looks like this: Akeem Judd, Eric Swinney, Eugene Brazley and freshman D'Vaughn Pennamon. Today, Judd ripped off a 65-yard run up the middle; Swinney trucked a defender after a 6-yard run; Brazley made two nifty runs totaling 16 yards and Pennamon showed the RB instincts Coach Derrick Nix has been touting him for. RB is a healthy situation, despite losing Wilkins and the coaches second that notion.
* Word circulating around camp is positive from the a couple of areas of concern - linebacker and the safety slots. Zedrick Woods is having a good camp at free safety and C.J. Hampton, who started slowly this fall, has put together a week's worth of practices that have put him back in the hunt to challenge for the top job, we were told. Myles Hartsfield "gets better every day" at Rover and true frosh Deontay Anderson is "pushing him hard for playing time." Anderson is expected to play at this juncture - one, because C>J. Moore is out with injury and, two, because he's got a special look for a frosh. At Husky, obviously Tony Conner is "the man," but Montrell Custis has started making a lot of plays, which has helped the coaches gain a sigh of relief with Conner coming off a major injury.
* At linebacker, if the Rebels started tomorrow, DeMarquis Gates would be the MLB and Terry Caldwell would be the starting Stinger (OLB). They have had the best camps, but also in the picture are transfers Rommel Mageo and Detric Bing-Dukes. We were told they are doing OK, but they have not "turned it loose" like the coaches want them to yet. They are thinking too much. Also, the two fastest LBs are Gates and Caldwell. Also, kudos to RayRay Smith who is finally getting some mention by insiders. We were told he's much more physical now and has been making some good plays. Tayler Polk and Termario Strong are also getting nods of approval. But the one making the most progress? Look no further than Willie Hibbler, we were told. He still needs more time, but the move from TE to MLB looks like it is going to pay big dividends down the road.
* DE Fadol Brown was not at practice Saturday. No word on when he will return. In the meantime, the defensive coaches are wanting Garrald McDowell or Sean Curtis to step up behind John Youngblood. If not, you will see DT Breeland Speaks take some defensive end snaps because the Rebels have enough inside bodies to spare one and Breeland is athletic enough to play DT or DE.
* DT D.J. Jones is still out with a concussion.
* At corner, the players getting the nods for the future, if not sooner, are redshirt freshman Jalen Julius and true freshman Jaylon Jones, who has changed his number from 17 to 31. The inside word is they both "are going to be very, very good."
* The offensive line depth chart currently looks like this: LT Rod Taylor, Little; LG - Javon Patterson, Tyler Putman; C - Robert Conyers, Jacob Feeley; RG - Jordan Sims, Daronte Bouldin; RT - Sean Rawlings, Alex Givens.
* Slot receiver Markell Pack is still out after getting hand surgery to repair a damaged ligament. . . TE Hunter Thurley, who has been out with foot issues, should be back in another week after two surgeries.
* The Rebs have so many quality receivers, it's scary good. Right now, Van Jefferson, Quincy Adeboyejo and Tre' Nixon are handling the slot; Damore'ea Stringfellow, D.K. Metcalf and Derrick Jones are out wide on one side and DeMarkus Lodge, A.J. Brown and Trey Bledsoe are out wide on the other side. All of these guys are interchangeable to different positions. Quincy goes inside and out and all WRs can play either wideout slot. It will be a challenge to figure out who plays where and when, but a good challenge to have.
* Nixon caught a short pass over the middle in the team period and was met by Hampton immediately with a hard hit. Nixon got the breath knocked out of him, but the rookie went back in for more action a few plays later. Big hit, tough kid.
* Gary Wunderlich appears to be getting number one placekicker reps and number on punter reps ahead of Will Gleeson. That's certainly not official, just the way things have lined up at the last two practices the media was allowed to attend.
* A new face seems to have popped up fielding punts - Van Jefferson, to go along with Nixon and Jalen Julius.
* Freshman Rover Greg Eisworth, who has missed a lot of time with a hamstring pull, was practicing Saturday and appeared to be full speed with the threes.
* The media can watch practice again a week from today.