Spring football notes

The first day of spring football left Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron with a big smile on his face. Read about inside.

Note: Spring football is closed to the media this year except for a few select days. Today was the first day of the spring session. The media is allowed access to Coach Ed Orgeron after practice. The following are some notes.

* The weather in Oxford was beautiful (sunny and about 55-60 degrees) for the 11 a.m.-1:10 p.m. practice. The Rebs were in shorts and helmets, by rule, for their first spring practice.

* "We had a beautiful day today that resulted in a positive practice," said Orgeron, in the comfort of the lobby of the IPF after the two-hour and 10-minute workout. "The guys looked sharp and ready to go. We had a lot of excitement and energy and the organization of the practice went well. The attitude of the team was fantastic."

* This was not only the first day of spring training, it marked the first day - officially - for Dan Werner to take over the offense. "I was really pleased with the direction of the offense and the way Coach Werner ran the practice," Orgeron continued. "There was a noticeable difference in the way things were run - very demanding and a lot of attention to details. He demanded effort and perfection and I really like that. His whole staff really looked sharp and worked hard."

* Today also marked the first day on the field for new Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe. "I thought our OL was generally more aggressive," said Coach O. "I saw a difference in our offensive line in terms of being more aggressive and having some double-team blocks that knocked us (the defense) off the ball a couple of times. Guys like Corey Actis, Mo Miller and David Traxler showed out a little to me today."

* The wide receivers are an inexperienced group, but Coach O saw a couple of bright spots. "Marshay Green made some big plays and showed he has big-play capabilities," O noted. "He caught a couple of good balls. Mike Wallace also had a pretty good day, but that was about it there. We are a work in progress at wide receiver. Robert Lane and Lawrence Lilly at tight end also did some good things in the passing game."

* Another first was the unveiling, so to speak, of TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is now eligible to play in games after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. "BenJarvus looks like the best at the tailback position in the early going. With him and Mico (McSwain) back there we have two guys who can handle the job," he continued. "We are looking at spreading Mico out a little too and getting him the ball."

* Orgeron also assessed the defensive side of the ball from the first spring work. "We got solid play out of the secondary. B. Brown - who has had a tremendous offseason - has taken over for (injured) Jamarca Sanford at strong safety and he did a real nice job," O stated. "At linebacker, Quentin Taylor made some big plays today. Up front, Brandon Jenkins, Peria Jerry, Hayward Howard and Chris Bowers surfaced today."

* On special teams, Orgeron was brief. "We have a ways to go," he said.

* The Rebels will work in shorts and helmets Monday, shells Wednesday, shells again Friday and full pads next Saturday in a practice open to media and the public.

* Orgeron said he could tell a difference in the offseason work from this time last year until now. "We are better - in better shape and stronger too. I give a lot of credit to Aaron Ausmus and his staff - incredible job," Orgeron allowed. "We are bigger and stronger on the lines. I can see it. We aren't getting pushed back on the OL, we are coming off the ball. Nobody got tired today, which is a good sign."

* Going into the second year in O's 4-3 defensive scheme, how was the retention on that side of the ball? "We are dealing with two new linebackers (Quentin Taylor and Robert Russell) there, so we missed a couple of adjustments today. but once Patrick gets in there in August, we'll be OK," he said. "Quentin had a good day. It was new for Antonio (Turner) so it was a little rough for him, but we'll be OK in time."

Editor's Note: With practices being closed, it's difficult to know what to specifically ask about a practice, but we'll work to get the hang of it and provide the best info we humanly can. Coach O was extremely cooperative in our quest to give us something with some "meat" to it. We appreciate that effort from him.

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