Hugh Freeze/USA TODAY images

Rebels improving slowly but surely in key areas

After watching and grading the Georgia game film, the Ole Miss coaches didn't give out a lot of details, but they gave a consensus thumbs up for improvement against the Bulldogs.

After the convincing 45-14 win over Georgia last Saturday, both DC Dave Wommack and OC Dan Werner said basically the same thing.

Paraphrasing, "we showed some improvement in some key areas, but we have a long way to go."

That was an off-the-cuff, immediately after the game evaluation, but what about now, after there has been time to grade the game film.

Basically, the same assessment.

A thumbs up with an asterisk - the Rebels got better, but there is still plenty of room for even more improvement.

* Took care of the ball. Check.

* Ran the ball better. Check.

* Stayed aggressive on offense while the game was in doubt. Check.

* Applied pressure to the opposing QB. Check.

* Changed some personnel at linebacker and they produced, especially Detric Bing-Dukes with nine tackles.Check.

* The secondary played more aggressively in different coverages. Check.

* The special teams had one snafu, but was more efficient overall. Check.

In a critical win, with improvement needed, the Rebels came through with flying colors, but they have to stay on the improvement path to get where they want to be this season.

Random Notes:

* DBs Montrell Custis and Carlos Davis both sustained shoulder stingers in the Georgia game. Tuesday at practice, Husky Custis was cleared for practice. Cornerback Davis was in a green jersey signifying injury, but he is expected to be OK for the Memphis game.

* OLB Terry Caldwell was concussed early in the Georgia game and was in a green jersey Tuesday. No word yet on his availability for the Memphis contest. The coaches have basically decided to go with DeMarquis Gates, Caldwell and Tayler Polk at OLB and Bing-Dukes, Rommel Mageo and Willie Hibbler in the middle. Temario Strong swings back and forth from MLB to OLB. In other words, Gates is going to start whether Caldwell is able to play or not, but for depth reasons, Caldwell's availability would be a plus.

* Versus the Bulldogs, the Rebel played six cornerbacks - Davis, Jaylon Jones, Derrick Jones, Jalen Julius, Kailo Moore and Tony Bridges. Expect the "committee approach" to continue against the Tigers Saturday night. At Husky, Tony Conner, A.J. Moore and Custis all played and are expected to play again versus Memphis and the four safeties who will most likely play will be the same - Myles Hartsfield, Deontay Anderson, Zedrick Woods and C.J. Hampton.

* There really is no further word one way or another on DE Fadol Brown, but he was not at practice Tuesday and he was seen at the Manning Center in a walking boot. Doesn't sound like he will be back anytime soon. Freeze said last Monday that his injury could be "long term."

* RB D'Vaughn Pennamon got a few extra looks against Georgia and based on is play, we were told he may have earned some more snaps, but the coaches were pleased with the way all the backs attacked the line of scrimmage/holes. There was a lot less "dancing" and more plowing ahead by all of them.

* Backup QB Jason Pellerin "graded pretty good" in his first extensive action against the Bulldogs. He threw one long pass that was "perfect" but knocked away/dropped, depending on your point of view. We were told his reads were good and he only had one bad decision.

* There have been rumblings that something might be wrong with freshman WR A.J. Brown. We had heard he may have tweaked an ankle or knee, but he was dressed out Tuesday and was not in green. If something is wrong with him, everyone is doing a good job concealing it.

* Happy birthday to Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze. He's 47 today.

* With Davis in a green jersey, WR Van Jefferson, who handled punts against Georgia,fielded punts with Tre' Nixon in practice. Obviously, with Tre' redshirting, Van will be the guy at PR against Memphis.

* A couple of weeks ago, Tim Tebow did a feature called Freak of the Week during the Alabama-Ole Miss game. The highlighted player was none other than DT D.J. Jones, who squats 700 pounds, verticals 31", bench presses 450 pounds and runs a 4.9 40 at 300-plus pounds. Who will be the next guy up for Freak of the Week? S&C Coach Paul Jackson said "probably Wide Receiver Demore'ea Stringfellow. Say what? More on String later. . . .

* So what of Memphis, in a nutshell? The Tiger defense is "aggressive, multiple, experienced and sound. They don't make many mistakes." On offense, "Riley Ferguson is a really good QB who throws really well and can be a threat running the ball. They run the read option well and they keep you guessing. They have an explosive offense."


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