Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron put the Rebs through a two-hour scrimmage today that produced a lot of defense and a mistake-prone offense. Obviously, Orgeron was pleased with the defensive effort and not as happy with the offense.
"We're starting to come together on defense. You can see the guys starting to understand the basic system and they are starting to turn loose and play," Orgeron noted. "Our linebackers were tremendous today, the defensive line has improved quite a bit this week and had a good day today, and the DBs are getting better by staying on top and not getting beat deep. Today, we did a good job of stopping the run and we forced four turnovers - three fumbles and an interception. The offense moved the ball some at times on the defense, but we stopped them by forcing turnovers several times."
On offense, his evaluation evolved around mistakes.
"We had too many mistakes, too many turnovers. The offense did not click today except at the end. I think we did OK at the end and in goalline work," Ed stated. "The offense will come along - I like a lot of things I see, but ball security has got to improve."
Rebel Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone echoed Orgeron's statements.
"Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. This wa the first time all spring we have not taken care of the ball. They were all drive-killers," Mazzone noted. "We moved the ball OK, other than that, but that's a big factor, obviously. It was not what I was hoping for, to say the least."
* The Rebs scrimmaged like it was a real game today except no kickoffs and no punting. The offense was on one sideline and the defense on the other. The coaches called plays and formations with hand signals from the sidelines for only the second time this spring. The coaches have been on the field with the players in previous scrimmages. "We wanted to work on our communication from the sidelines. All that was lacking was headphones and the coaches who will be in the press box sending down information to us on the sidelines," Orgeron explained. "I thought our communication with the players on the field was good."
* Rebels who did not participate today due to injury were TB Alan Abrams, FB Anthony Hobgood, C/G Tony Bonds, WR Matt Pierce, QB Robert Lane (dressed out but not throwing due to sore shoulder), and LB Marquis McBeath (dressed, but no contact). . . S Thad Rhodes was injured during the scrimmage, but there were no more new injuries. . . Four players - WR Mario Hill, WR Taye Biddle, WR/TB Larry Kendrick and FS Bryant Thomas - were in a rare weekend class all day today and tomorrow and were not present. . . Of course, DT McKinley Boykin, OL Andrew Wicker and RB Brandon Jacobs are out the entire spring.
* Signees OL Reid Neely and QB Billy Tapp were on hand for the scrimmage. Tapp will head back to Florida tonight after spending his whole spring break at Ole Miss.
* Today, the Rebs used the same number one OL they used yesterday - LT Bobby Harris, LG Darryl Harris, C Ben Boyce, RG Tre' Stallings and RT David Traxler. . . Also staying on the number one unit were LCB Nate Banks and OLB Dontae Reed (for the fourth day in a row).
* Due to Lane being out, the quarterbacks were not "live" in contact today except in goalline situations. With the depth the way it is right now, Orgeron did not want to risk another injury with only four more practices left in spring.
* The Rebs worked some punt rush early in practice. The outside rush guys, who the coaches feel have a chance to block some kicks, were Nate Banks and CB Terrell Jackson.
* Coach Orgeron is "big" on sideline involvement during the game. The players not in the game were constantly chattering and encouraging those who were playing. Lots of enthusiasm on the Reb sidelines now.
* Orgeron said after practice that he has been satisfied with the placekickers and the work they have done this spring. They are Will Moseley and Hunter Bray. He likes their leg strength and consistency, for the most part. . . The same two are punting and not having as favorable results, but he's not disappointed. "I was told we didn't even have a punter on campus. These guys have worked hard and have done a decent job," he noted.
* In scrimmage warmup snaps, focusing a lot on the running game, it appeared the offense was going to have a big day. In four opportunities to make a first down in four plays, the one offense was 2-2 and the two offense was 2-2. For the ones, QB Michael Spurlock opened things up with a 15-yard strike to WR Carlos Suggs. TB Jamal Pittman then ran for 8, 1 and 3 yards for another first down. . . The two's got a first down on a 10-yard run by TB Vashon Pearson. . . The ones then got a 20-yard run by Pittman and a 6-yard gain by Jamal. . . The twos then got a first down on three cracks by Pearson.
Scrimmage play-by-play. . .(We'll do all the first-team drives and then do the twos.)
* The one offense got off to a rocky start when Spurlock was intercepted by SS Jamarca Sanford on a deflected pass. One play, one turnover.
* On the next possession, the offense moved the ball from their 35 to the 21 of the defense before Pittman fumbled and Reed covered the loose ball. It took four plays to move the chains the first time after a motion penalty on the OL. Spurlock hit WR Mike Espy, who continued his "hot" streak of the past three days, for 12 yards, Pearson gained 2 and FB Jason Cook gained 4 yards on a fourth-and-1. Three short running plays later, Spurlock hit WR Burnell Wallace, who has also been very visible of late, with a 14-yard strike before the Pittman miscue.
* The thrid possession by the ones was all defense. Pearson was stopped by DE Jayme Mitchell for a 3-yard loss. Then Pearson broke into the secondary, but fumbled the the end of the run. FS Charles Clark recovered the fumble.
* The one defense then put up a three-and-out the next time on the field. Reed stopped Pittman after a 2-yard run. LB Kelvin Robinson tackled Suggs after a 3-yard pass from Spurlock. On 3rd-and-13, Mitchell caught up with a scrambling Spurlock to end the short-lived drive.
* MLB Patrick Willis made a play on Pearson at the line of scrimmage to start the next defensive stop. Spurlock found Brooks for 5 yards, but then threw incomplete downfield to end the series.
* The one offense finally scored on the next drive, starting at the 45 of the defense. Spurlock got the ball rolling with a 25-yard run around right end. Espy then hauled in a pass for 18 yards. Pittman then gained 2 yards before DT Micheal Bozeman wrapped him up. On 2nd-and-8, Spurlock threw a bullet to Suggs streaking across the end zone for the only TD for the one offense on a sustained drive all day.
The two offense play-by-play follows:
* The two offense scored a TD on its first possession, which began at their own 35. Pearson ripped off 25 yards followed by a 2-yard run (DT Jeremy Garrett on the tackle) and a 7-yard effort. QB Ethan Flatt then found Suggs for 9 yards to the 22. DE Viciente DeLoach registered a sack for -4 yards, but then Pearson ripped off a 23-yard run to the defense's 3. Pearson scored from 5-yards out on the second play after a 2-yard loss by FB Seth Michaelson (DT Brandon Jenkins on the stop).
* On the next possession, TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (BenJarvus is the correct spelling, by the way - we asked him) gained 10 yards, but then the defense stiffened. Garrett stopped Green-Ellis for no gain and then Jenkins ended the drive with a sack of Flatt for -8 yards.
* On the next possession, starting at the defense's 40, Flatt connected with Suggs for 28 yards, but the middle of the DL stopped FB Clay Haury on 4th-and-1 from the 2.
* LB Brandon Thomas made his presence known on the next possession, making two stops for short yardage. CB Terrell Jackson ended the drive by breaking up a slat pass intended for Wallace.
* On the next possession, the two offense drove from their 35 to the defense's 15 before Pearson fumbled and LB Keith Houston scooped the ball up and ran 85 yards for a TD for the defense. Brandon Thomas made the hit on Pearson.
* On the final possession by the twos, DE Corveli Haynes registered a QB sack that put the offense in a deep hole they could not recover from.
Orgeron then called for a period of goalline in starting at the defense's 5.
* The ones scored easily three times in a row. The offensive coaches, obviously irked by the Pittman and Pearson fumbles, inserted TB Hiram White into the top spot and he responded with a TD on his first touch. . . FB Jason Cook then bulled in on first down for another score. Both runs came behind the left side of the line and the Harris boys - Bobby and Darryl. . . It took three plays on the next crack from the 5, but Spurlock bootlegged it in on third down from 8 yards out for the score.
* The two scored on a scramble by Flatt on the third play from the 5.
* The ones came back on the field and scored twice in three plays. On the first play, Spurlock found Suggs at the back of the end zone. Then the Rebs scored in two running plays up the gut by White.
On the final series of the day, Orgeron placed the ball at the defense's 25. The twos scored on five Pittman runs, the biggie being a 15-yarder to the 6.
The ones ended things with a score as well. Pearson ate up most of the yardage with a 23-yard run. A holding call made it third-and-goal from the 15. Spurlock again hooked up with Suggs on a bullet in the end zone to end the practice.
* The Rebs will practice in full gear Monday and Wednesday, then in shells Friday before Saturday's Red-Blue Game at 1 p.m.
Practice Report: Saturday's scrimmage
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