The first order of business when Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze addressed the media prior to Friday's practice was to welcome back Offensive Lineman Jeremy Liggins back to the team after missing most of August drills to take care of some personal issues.
"Jeremy still has a week or so of things to do and will not play against Florida State, but so far he has done everything we have asked of him and we are lad to have him back at practice," Freeze noted. "Freshman Defensive End Charles Wiley is practicing but he will not play in games, as I have said all along, until his legal issues are cleared up."
The Rebels also got WR Markell Pack, who has been out with a hand injury, back to work and freshman Rover Deontay Anderson, who has a wrist injury, was at practice but was in a green jersey signifying no contact. He is expected to be available for duty in the opener, as is Pack.
"Markell did some good things. He's going to have to play with a little pain, but he did fine the first day he was back (Thursday) and said he felt good going into today's workout," Hugh noted. "Deontay won't go through contact right now because they want everything to get set right in the wrist, but I anticipate him being ready to go next week."
Defensive End Fadol Brown is in Houston, Texas, taking a treatment for his foot that is supposed to alleviate pain and, hopefully, allow him to play.
"We should know in a couple of days. He will be back tomorrow," noted Freeze. "The structure is fine. We trust the doctors who did the surgeries. It is just a matter if he can play with whatever pain is associated with his foot. We are hoping this new treatment helps a lot."
Freeze said the last scrimmage produced some issues with the defense, but he thinks they are correctable.
"We didn't really have a lot of busts, we just didn't fit things exactly like we should have and missed a few tackles. i think we will be OK once we hone down to what we are going to do in the opener," he assessed. "The biggest thing is fixing the tackling because we get to 'warm up' against one of the best backs I have seen for FSU."
Freeze was asked about the latest NCAA article.
"I've just become numb to it for now," he said. "I have no idea if the latest article is true or not. We are ready to get to the end of it, you can say that, for sure. Beyond that, I don't have anything to say."
* Freeze said there may not be a "jumbo" package, so to speak, early on in the season for a couple of reasons. "We have bigger backs now and have confidence we can get short yardage with them and our QBs can run as well. I'm not saying we won't have a jumbo package, but we'll just have to see," he stated.
* DC Dave Wommack talked last week about some work for Breeland Speaks at defensive end if backups Garrald McDowell and Sean Curtis needed some help while they were progressing/getting ready. Unfortunately, with D.J. Jones being out with a concussion - he is back now, and freshman Benito Jones being gone until Sunday due to the sudden and unexpected death of his Father, Breeland has had to stay exclusively inside for now, but he is expected to get some work outside next week.
* With Benito gone for a few days, Ross Donnelly has moved up to the 4th DT slot in what is expected to be a five-man rotation with Speakes, D.J., Benito, Issac Gross and Donnelly. Josiah Coatney may also be in the mix. . . .
* Last week, Wommack also mentioned that linebacker transfers Rommel Mageo and Detric Bing-Dukes may not be ready to take on as big a role as they had originally hoped, but this week, the D-Boss said both have progressed nicely. "Some people just don't realize how much there is to learn with all the reads, checks, stunts, blitzes, calls, etc., all based on how the offense lines up and all done very quickly, but both of them made a big jump this week," Wommack noted. "They both had good weeks this week, real good." (Bing-Dukes is coming off a back injury and is back at practice now.) It is still expected, however, that DeMarquis Gates and Terry Caldwell will start at middle linebacker and outside linebacker, respectively.
* It appears the punt return duties are going to be handled by CB Carlos Davis, WR Van Jefferson and CB Jalen Julius, for now, in that order.
* OLB Tayler Polk has paid his dues as a stalwart on special teams. It appears he's going to get a bigger shot at playing some linebacker this year. He is working with the second defensive unit right now and has Wommack's stamp of approval. "I will not hesitate putting him in the game. Tayler will do a good job," he noted.
* WR Coach Grant Heard has some tough decisions to make at his positions. A lot of talent and only one ball to share. It appears that Quincy Adeboyejo, Damore'ea Stringfellow and Jefferson are the top three, but with Pack, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, DeMarkus Lodge, Derrick Jones, all capable and dynamic in the own right, waiting in the wings, how may in the rotation? Will be interesting to watch.
* The depth chart has not changed since we last viewed practice in terms of the offensive and defensive lines. The top OL is LT Rod Taylor, LG Javon Patterson, C Robert Conyers, RG Jordan Sims and RT Sean Rawlings. The top Dl is DE John Youngblood, DT Speaks, NT D.J. Jones/Gross, DE Marquis Haynes.
* Based on Friday's practice, the battle for number one free safety has tightened with Zedrick Woods and C.J. Hampton splitting reps with the number one defense. For most of August, Woods has had the edge, but it seems Hampton has made a late surge. We shall see.
* It also appears PK Gary Wunderlich may also be headed toward the number one punting job to go along with his field goal and extra point duties. He has worked with the number one punt team more than incumbent Will Gleeson in every practice the media has seen.
* Some of the top punt team athletes will be: LB Willie Hibbler, LB Temario Strong, Carlos Davis and A.J. Moore as the "gunners", Hampton, Caldwell, Youngblood, Speaks and TE Taz Zettergren. Will Few is the top long snapper.