The Ole Miss football team held their first full scrimmage of spring today and Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron tipped his hat to the defense.
"We had a big scrimmage today and it was very enthusiastic. The defense played well the whole day," Orgeron began. "They dominated the scrimmage. It was an awesome job by Coach (John) Thompson and his staff. They were ready, they were fired up and they made a lot of plays."
Orgeron singled out a few players from the workout, mentioning DE Marcus Tillman first.
"Marcus had an excellent day. He made a lot of plays and stood out. (MLB) Jonathan Cornell also made a lot of plays. CB Cassius Vaughn and SS Jamarca Sanford also stood out with their playmaking ability," O continued. "It was just a real good day for the defense."
And the offense?
"BenJarvus Green-Ellis looked good the time he was in there. We didn't scrimmage him the whole time, but when he was in there he did good things," noted Orgeron. "When he wasn't in there, the defense took control. That's about it on offense."
Back to the good stuff - D-E-F-E-N-S-E!
"We played base most of the day, with a couple of blitzes. It surprised me the defense was as effective as they were against our offense playing just base, especially against our offensive line," O stated. "We had some guys out on the defensive line but a couple of walkons (Ben Benedetto and David Densmore) stepped up and filled in well. Also, Daverin Geralds continues to impress me with his play and steady improvement. And, again, Marcus had an outstanding day."
More defense - namely Vaughn.
"We started off the week a little slow in the secondary but John challenged them and Cassius was one who responded," Orgeron commented. "I thought Cassius had his best day today. He has speed, size, long arms, good hips. He's got it all."
Coach O said he's not going to wear out BJGE - he has little to prove.
"BenJarvus is not getting every first-team rep, but he is scrimmaging some," O said. "When he is in there, he's doing great. He's improved his game. He understands defenses better, his cuts are more effective. We have put in some plays for him catching the ball out of the backfield to utilize him fully.
"He also looks faster, certainly fast enough."
What didn't the offense do that he was expecting to happen?
"Our OL wasn't as consistent as they have been. They allowed some pressure they haven't been allowing. The run game was hit-and-miss. Overall, it was the poorest effort of the spring by them and they have been good to this point," he assessed. "The defense was just on today."
In the passing game, Coach O singled out a couple of players, but that was about it.
"Marshay Green made a big play on a screen. Mike Hicks had a couple of good catches. We made some improvement, but we still have work to do, for sure," he said.
The Rebs also worked some special teams units - punt team and kickoff return.
"We protected and covered well on the punt team. That was good to see. Marshay had a KO return for a TD. We still need to find us a kickoff guy. Josh Shene worked there today and was not as consistent as we would have hoped," Orgeron noted.
One rule change for next year - kicking off from the 30 - will make a big difference in field position, O said.
"It might not have made a difference with Will Moseley, who has such a strong leg, but it will make a difference with a lot of kickers," he said. "I'm not for it. I'm a defensive guy. I want the ball in the end zone. But with a guy like Marshay, it gives me a weapon too to give us better field position. But I won't change my thinking on not liking that rule because of my defensive background."
The Rebels will practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of next week with Saturday being another major scrimmage.
Practice Report: Friday
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