Scrimmage Report

The Ole Miss Rebel football team put on full gear for the first time this fall camp and knocked heads for a couple of hours this afternoon. Coach Ed Orgeron was pleased with the offense in the workout. Read his comments and some of our notes inside.

Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron put his Rebels through a 2-hour scrimmage this afternoon in Vaught-Hemngway Stadium.

A large throng of Rebel fans, hungry for a glimpse at the Rebels in their first open practice, were in attendance.

"This was our first day in full pads. I got the coaches off the field and there were people in the stands. Under those conditions, I thought the offense did pretty good," said Coach O. "We ran the ball well. I thought Brent Schaeffer made some good plays. I didn't think we caught the ball as well as we should, but we are still mixing and matching players out there looking for the right combinations and looking for guys who can catch the ball under pressure.

"I thought Brent did pretty good for the first time. It was about what we have been seeing in practice. Nothing spectacular, but good. His operation was good. There were not a lot of turnovers, which is pleasing. I think he's picking up things well - that's not a problem with him at this point. I was really pleased with our running backs - BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall. Bruce has come along. We have three good tailbacks right now.

"On the offensive line, we're coming along. I think the tendency in the first scrimmage is to play a little high. I didn't think we played low enough today. Overall, the OL was just OK."

O said the defense, was just "alright."

"We let the run the ball too much. We played vanilla today, but we have a long way to go on defense, especially our defensive line. We didn't make many plays up front today," Orgeron noted. "We have some improvement to make there. We moved Robert Russell back to middle linebacker today. He's doing OK, but he's still not an every down player, but he has improved this camp. He's got a lot to learn. The MLB is the QB of the defense - the fits, the calls, the coverages. When you have Patrick Willis in there, he just knows it all. What I'm saying is that Robert is not at that level with his understanding yet."

WR Mike Wallace was not at practice today and O explained why.

"Mike's younger brother died and Mike was at his funeral. Are prayers are out to Mike and his family. We expect him back soon," said O. "Peria Jerry and Andrew Wicker were not at practice today either."

Frosh WR Dexter McCluster had a long kickoff return - as did Marshay Green - for a touchdown and he made two or three nice catch-and-runs on the day.

"Dexter has been doing that the whole camp. It wasn't a surprise what he did today. He's been consistently good. It's fun to watch him with the ball in his hands. He and Marshay had excellent returns today and that marked the biggest improvement we saw on special teams today," O stated.

Coach O was asked to expound some on the wide receivers - if he expected them to be behind due to a lack of experience and the number of new players out there at those postions.

"I wish their inconsistency was not expected, but it was. We have to remain patient and try to find the right fits there," he explained. "Some guys did not make catches they should have today. I thought Dexter did well. Shay Hodge had a good catch over the middle, but overall I was disappointed in some of the drops."

There were two picks today, one by frosh CB Cassius Vaughn and one by backup CB Terrell Jackson. Jackson picked off a Schaeffer pass in the flat and returned it for a score.

"Terrell has had a good camp. He's in our rotation. We are thin back there - he will have to play for us," he said.

Asked what he predicts for the offense this year, Coach O said he hopes for balance with an emphasis on the run.

"With Brent back there, we're going to throw the ball, but our major priority is to run the ball and establish a running game. We have to," he said. "We went out and got a good QB and we are going to use him a lot, but we have to have some balance." Coach O was asked about the status of Rory Johnson and Jerrell Powe. He said there is no change at this point.

Our notes:

* DT Brandon Jenkins was in pads today after missing all but a few days of camp due to taking an intercession course. He was running with the number one defense at DT along side Nose Tackle Jeremy Garrett. From our viewpoint, he looked like he has maintained his conditioning and appears ready to pick up where he left off. LB Antonio Turner was also in the mix today, but DT Hayward Howard, DE Reterio Brown and TE Jason Hawkins had to sit out due to acclimation rules after entering camp late.

* Frosh Joshua Shene lined up as the number one placekicker today. RS freshman Justin Sparks handled number two PK duties. Rob Park was the holder and walkon freshman Wesley Phillips, from Madison Central, was the number one deep snapper today. He and Preston Powers, a freshman DS from Briarcrest, are battling it out for hte top spot as the deep snapper at this point.

* Freshman WR Marshay Green electrified the crowd with a long return for a touchdown on a kickoff, showing off his speed in a 90-plus yard romp down the sidelines. Freshman WR Dexter McCluster immediately one-upped him on the next KO return by breaking through the middle, cutting back against the grain and outdistancing the field for another TD return. Both showed excellent speed and quickness to break into the clear. P. S. - Kickoff coverage/return was full contact today.

* Coach O has been talking extensively about some of his freshman class looking good. Today, he had DE Marcus Tillman and DE Kentrell Lockett getting first team reps on defense, WR Green and McCluster getting a lot of one reps on offense, and SLB Jonathan Cornell, SS Jamal Harvey, FS Allen Walker, DE Greg Hardy, FB Reggie Hicks, TB Cordera Eason, RG John Jerry, WR Kendrick Lewis, WR Shay Hodge, WR Markeith Summers and CB Cassius Vaughn playing regularly with the twos. It appears a lot of the frosh are going to be on the two-deep this fall. Note: We could have missed a couple in our notes as well.

* In the battles on the OL, it appears Maurice Miller has an edge at RG. He playe dwith the ones all day. Senior James McCoy, who has been backing Miller, was the numbe two center today with Corey Actis, who has been working at number two center, getting some reps at LG behind Reid Neely. Andrew Wicker, the number one LG, was not at prctice today. The numer one line today consisted of LT Michael Oher, who looked very good and way more relaxed than last year from our viewpoint, LG Reid Neely, C Thomas Eckers, RG Maurice Miller and RT Darryl Harris. As Coach O said, there is work to be done, but this group sprung some nice runs for TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in his limited action and then for frosh TB Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall.

* Eason is impressive. He's bullish on the inside and has a burst when he gets in the open field. We wouldn't call him a speed merchant, but he has moves and he has speed when he needs it. Hall also ripped off a couple of nice runs and drew good reviews from O above. Bruce just seems to have a knack for making yards. He's not flashy nor overpowering, but he's fast enough and strong enough to make something happen.

* Our initial observations of Schaeffer were very good. The things we noticed? He sees the whole field in the pocket. He releases the ball quickly when he makes up his mind where he's going with the ball. He throws a nice spiral with good zip on the ball. He bounces around in the pocket and has a feel for pressure and how to avoid it to buy extra time. He's elusive in the pocket and in the open field when he opts to tuck it and run. Overall, our impression was the Rebs have themselves a keeper. Brent is extremely accurate on crossing patterns over the middle, a pass QBs have told me in the past is one of the hardest to make accurately because a receiver is racing across the field perpendicular to the throw. He threw two interceptions today, but one was a communication mixup with a young receiver and the other was just a good break on the ball in the flat by Terrell Jackson. Schaeffer is every bit as talented as advertised.

* All the backup quarterbacks had their moments as well. Seth Adams, Billy Tapp, Cliff Davis and Michael Herrick all had nice completions today and seemed calm in the pocket when their opportunities came up. Davis also showed some mobility once when he was flushed from the pocket and picked up a nice gain.

* Green and McCluster also handled punt returns today and looked comfortable fielding Park's punts. We don't know where Wallace, who was absent, fits into that scenario right now, but Green and McCLuster definitely looked capable in the non-contact drill.

* In his brief stint running the ball, BenJarvus showed what we saw in spring. He's patient, follows blocks well and gets the maximum out of a block/hole. If there is five yards to be had, he gets that plus some. Another thing we have noticed in spring and this fall, he has very good ball security and is not a fumbler.

* Hicks and Cornell are both impressive freshmen. On one play today, Hicks caught a swing pass and appeared to have some operating room. Cornell, covering the flat from the SLB slot, closed quickly, showing his speed, and leveled Hicks with a hard hit. Both popped up immediately. One play is not an indication of everything, but it showed me all I need to know about both. Look for them to do good things here. Cornell is fast and rugged. Hicks is bullish, eager and strong.

* Coach O has been doing a lot of bragging on NT Jeremy Garrett this fall camp. We can see why. Jeremy made several big plays today, including a couple of tackles in the backfield and chasing down a running back after a short gain in the flat area. He can cover some turf. Good football player who stuck out today in a lot of ways.

* Bruce Hall broke into the open field on a 15 yard run, but just as quickly as he got going, he was abruptly stopped by a vicious hit by SS Jamarca Sanford, who had his first full contact today since last season. He has not lost the quality that has endeared him to the coaches. He loves to hit. "That's what he brings to the table," said O. "He gets everyone off their feet when he hits like that. He will do it more and more as the weeks roll on and he knocks the rust off from missing spring."

* WR Michael Hicks had a couple of drops early in the scrimmage, but on one play in the end zone, he made a catch very similar to the one Alabama WR Tommy Prothro made against USM last year. He reached around a DB and caught the ball while behind the DBs back while he had the DB in an embrace. He held on when the two hit the field. Remarkable catch.

* With Willis used sparingly, it was hard to get a read on the defense. Suffice to say the Rebs don't have the same look without him, and that is not a knock on the guys playing, it is a testament to P-Willie's prowess. Coach O said he held Patrick out most of the day for precautionary reasons.

* Starting SLB Garry Pack was very active today and was in the middle of a lot of action. He seems more sure of himself this year with a year of starting under his belt.

* Speaking of crossing patterns and Schaeffer's accuracy on those difficult passes, he connected with frosh Shay Hodge on a 25-yard bullet over the middle. Hodge looked sure-handed and caught the ball in stride and going full speed comfortably.

* Frosh TB Derrick Davis caught a swing pass late in the scrimmage and made a nice gain out of it. Coach O said he's not 100% on the knee he injured in high school yet, but he's getting there. He looked real close to us on that reception and was not the least bit bashful about ducking his head and trying to run over SS Jamal Harvey. Harvey made the play and is every bit the athlete Coach O has been saying the last week. We see now why O was bragging on him.

* P Rob Park had a solid day punting today and appears stronger. He seems to be connecting more soilidly now that he was last year. We expect good progress from Rob.

* The Rebs had some players missing today, but Coach O would not comment on some of them and asked that the media refrain as well. We will honor that request. Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron put his Rebels through a 2-hour scrimmage this afternoon in Vaught-Hemngway Stadium.

A large throng of Rebel fans, hungry for a glimpse at the Rebels in their first open practice, were in attendance.

"This was our first day in full pads. I got the coaches off the field and there were people in the stands. Under those conditions, I thought the offense did pretty good," said Coach O. "We ran the ball well. I thought Brent Schaeffer made some good plays. I didn't think we caught the ball as well as we should, but we are still mixing and matching players out there looking for the right combinations and looking for guys who can catch the ball under pressure.

"I thought Brent did pretty good for the first time. It was about what we have been seeing in practice. Nothing spectacular, but good. His operation was good. There were not a lot of turnovers, which is pleasing. I think he's picking up things well - that's not a problem with him at this point. I was really pleased with our running backs - BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall. Bruce has come along. We have three good tailbacks right now.

"On the offensive line, we're coming along. I think the tendency in the first scrimmage is to play a little high. I didn't think we played low enough today. Overall, the OL was just OK."

O said the defense, was just "alright."

"We let the run the ball too much. We played vanilla today, but we have a long way to go on defense, especially our defensive line. We didn't make many plays up front today," Orgeron noted. "We have some improvement to make there. We moved Robert Russell back to middle linebacker today. He's doing OK, but he's still not an every down player, but he has improved this camp. He's got a lot to learn. The MLB is the QB of the defense - the fits, the calls, the coverages. When you have Patrick Willis in there, he just knows it all. What I'm saying is that Robert is not at that level with his understanding yet."

WR Mike Wallace was not at practice today and O explained why.

"Mike's younger brother died and Mike was at his funeral. Are prayers are out to Mike and his family. We expect him back soon," said O. "Peria Jerry and Andrew Wicker were not at practice today either."

Frosh WR Dexter McCluster had a long kickoff return - as did Marshay Green - for a touchdown and he made two or three nice catch-and-runs on the day.

"Dexter has been doing that the whole camp. It wasn't a surprise what he did today. He's been consistently good. It's fun to watch him with the ball in his hands. He and Marshay had excellent returns today and that marked the biggest improvement we saw on special teams today," O stated.

Coach O was asked to expound some on the wide receivers - if he expected them to be behind due to a lack of experience and the number of new players out there at those postions.

"I wish their inconsistency was not expected, but it was. We have to remain patient and try to find the right fits there," he explained. "Some guys did not make catches they should have today. I thought Dexter did well. Shay Hodge had a good catch over the middle, but overall I was disappointed in some of the drops."

There were two picks today, one by frosh CB Cassius Vaughn and one by backup CB Terrell Jackson. Jackson picked off a Schaeffer pass in the flat and returned it for a score.

"Terrell has had a good camp. He's in our rotation. We are thin back there - he will have to play for us," he said.

Asked what he predicts for the offense this year, Coach O said he hopes for balance with an emphasis on the run.

"With Brent back there, we're going to throw the ball, but our major priority is to run the ball and establish a running game. We have to," he said. "We went out and got a good QB and we are going to use him a lot, but we have to have some balance." Coach O was asked about the status of Rory Johnson and Jerrell Powe. He said there is no change at this point.

Our notes:

* DT Brandon Jenkins was in pads today after missing all but a few days of camp due to taking an intercession course. He was running with the number one defense at DT along side Nose Tackle Jeremy Garrett. From our viewpoint, he looked like he has maintained his conditioning and appears ready to pick up where he left off. LB Antonio Turner was also in the mix today, but DT Hayward Howard, DE Reterio Brown and TE Jason Hawkins had to sit out due to acclimation rules after entering camp late.

* Frosh Joshua Shene lined up as the number one placekicker today. RS freshman Justin Sparks handled number two PK duties. Rob Park was the holder and walkon freshman Wesley Phillips, from Madison Central, was the number one deep snapper today. He and Preston Powers, a freshman DS from Briarcrest, are battling it out for hte top spot as the deep snapper at this point.

* Freshman WR Marshay Green electrified the crowd with a long return for a touchdown on a kickoff, showing off his speed in a 90-plus yard romp down the sidelines. Freshman WR Dexter McCluster immediately one-upped him on the next KO return by breaking through the middle, cutting back against the grain and outdistancing the field for another TD return. Both showed excellent speed and quickness to break into the clear. P. S. - Kickoff coverage/return was full contact today.

* Coach O has been talking extensively about some of his freshman class looking good. Today, he had DE Marcus Tillman and DE Kentrell Lockett getting first team reps on defense, WR Green and McCluster getting a lot of one reps on offense, and SLB Jonathan Cornell, SS Jamal Harvey, FS Allen Walker, DE Greg Hardy, FB Reggie Hicks, TB Cordera Eason, RG John Jerry, WR Kendrick Lewis, WR Shay Hodge, WR Markeith Summers and CB Cassius Vaughn playing regularly with the twos. It appears a lot of the frosh are going to be on the two-deep this fall. Note: We could have missed a couple in our notes as well.

* In the battles on the OL, it appears Maurice Miller has an edge at RG. He playe dwith the ones all day. Senior James McCoy, who has been backing Miller, was the numbe two center today with Corey Actis, who has been working at number two center, getting some reps at LG behind Reid Neely. Andrew Wicker, the number one LG, was not at prctice today. The numer one line today consisted of LT Michael Oher, who looked very good and way more relaxed than last year from our viewpoint, LG Reid Neely, C Thomas Eckers, RG Maurice Miller and RT Darryl Harris. As Coach O said, there is work to be done, but this group sprung some nice runs for TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis in his limited action and then for frosh TB Cordera Eason and Bruce Hall.

* Eason is impressive. He's bullish on the inside and has a burst when he gets in the open field. We wouldn't call him a speed merchant, but he has moves and he has speed when he needs it. Hall also ripped off a couple of nice runs and drew good reviews from O above. Bruce just seems to have a knack for making yards. He's not flashy nor overpowering, but he's fast enough and strong enough to make something happen.

* Our initial observations of Schaeffer were very good. The things we noticed? He sees the whole field in the pocket. He releases the ball quickly when he makes up his mind where he's going with the ball. He throws a nice spiral with good zip on the ball. He bounces around in the pocket and has a feel for pressure and how to avoid it to buy extra time. He's elusive in the pocket and in the open field when he opts to tuck it and run. Overall, our impression was the Rebs have themselves a keeper. Brent is extremely accurate on crossing patterns over the middle, a pass QBs have told me in the past is one of the hardest to make accurately because a receiver is racing across the field perpendicular to the throw. He threw two interceptions today, but one was a communication mixup with a young receiver and the other was just a good break on the ball in the flat by Terrell Jackson. Schaeffer is every bit as talented as advertised.

* All the backup quarterbacks had their moments as well. Seth Adams, Billy Tapp, Cliff Davis and Michael Herrick all had nice completions today and seemed calm in the pocket when their opportunities came up. Davis also showed some mobility once when he was flushed from the pocket and picked up a nice gain.

* Green and McCluster also handled punt returns today and looked comfortable fielding Park's punts. We don't know where Wallace, who was absent, fits into that scenario right now, but Green and McCLuster definitely looked capable in the non-contact drill.

* In his brief stint running the ball, BenJarvus showed what we saw in spring. He's patient, follows blocks well and gets the maximum out of a block/hole. If there is five yards to be had, he gets that plus some. Another thing we have noticed in spring and this fall, he has very good ball security and is not a fumbler.

* Hicks and Cornell are both impressive freshmen. On one play today, Hicks caught a swing pass and appeared to have some operating room. Cornell, covering the flat from the SLB slot, closed quickly, showing his speed, and leveled Hicks with a hard hit. Both popped up immediately. One play is not an indication of everything, but it showed me all I need to know about both. Look for them to do good things here. Cornell is fast and rugged. Hicks is bullish, eager and strong.

* Coach O has been doing a lot of bragging on NT Jeremy Garrett this fall camp. We can see why. Jeremy made several big plays today, including a couple of tackles in the backfield and chasing down a running back after a short gain in the flat area. He can cover some turf. Good football player who stuck out today in a lot of ways.

* Bruce Hall broke into the open field on a 15 yard run, but just as quickly as he got going, he was abruptly stopped by a vicious hit by SS Jamarca Sanford, who had his first full contact today since last season. He has not lost the quality that has endeared him to the coaches. He loves to hit. "That's what he brings to the table," said O. "He gets everyone off their feet when he hits like that. He will do it more and more as the weeks roll on and he knocks the rust off from missing spring."

* WR Michael Hicks had a couple of drops early in the scrimmage, but on one play in the end zone, he made a catch very similar to the one Alabama WR Tommy Prothro made against USM last year. He reached around a DB and caught the ball while behind the DBs back while he had the DB in an embrace. He held on when the two hit the field. Remarkable catch.

* With Willis used sparingly, it was hard to get a read on the defense. Suffice to say the Rebs don't have the same look without him, and that is not a knock on the guys playing, it is a testament to P-Willie's prowess. Coach O said he held Patrick out most of the day for precautionary reasons.

* Starting SLB Garry Pack was very active today and was in the middle of a lot of action. He seems more sure of himself this year with a year of starting under his belt.

* Speaking of crossing patterns and Schaeffer's accuracy on those difficult passes, he connected with frosh Shay Hodge on a 25-yard bullet over the middle. Hodge looked sure-handed and caught the ball in stride and going full speed comfortably.

* Frosh TB Derrick Davis caught a swing pass late in the scrimmage and made a nice gain out of it. Coach O said he's not 100% on the knee he injured in high school yet, but he's getting there. He looked real close to us on that reception and was not the least bit bashful about ducking his head and trying to run over SS Jamal Harvey. Harvey made the play and is every bit the athlete Coach O has been saying the last week. We see now why O was bragging on him.

* P Rob Park had a solid day punting today and appears stronger. He seems to be connecting more soilidly now that he was last year. We expect good progress from Rob.

* The Rebs had some players missing today, but Coach O would not comment on some of them and asked that the media refrain as well. We will honor that request. Also, there were no stats kept on today's scrimmage at Coach O's request.

* Sports information released a few stats in their post-practice story. Schaeffer completed 11-20 passes for 145 yards and three scores in the scrimmage work. Eason gained 68 yards on 14 carries with one score and Hall had 102 yards on 16 carries with four short TD bursts.

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