In Saturday's scrimmage, the first of fall camp, the Rebel offense struggled to protect the football…
The past couple of days, the Rebels offense has shown some sparks in practices. They picked up that theme again this morning in the first of two Friday practices. "I loved the way the practice started for the offense in our Red Ball drill. The offense scored three out of four possessions and the quarterbacks made good decisions, both of them," Coach Hugh Freeze said. Good start, but not so good finish for the day, according to Freeze. "In our last team drill to end the practice, we had good competition but there were too many negative plays on both sides of the ball. Too many penalties, jumping offsides and a turnover or two. It was a good practice, but not a great one," Freeze stated. QB Barry Brunetti started out working with the number one offense and was on fire. "It was Barry's best day in camp so far, no doubt. He had the best day of the quarterbacks," Hugh added. Why Barry, why today? "One thing is that we have quit installing new stuff and they are getting more film study, time with (OC) Dan (Werner) and more reps," he continued. "Better protection has also been a factor. They have had time to operate some. "We are just going to trust we can get new stuff in during game week if we need it, so they are getting more reps in what we have installed and that has helped the QBs and everyone a lot. The more you rep stuff, the better you'll get." Tomorrow's firsts full scrimmage is important in terms of the coaches being able to evaluate where the team is right now, but through seven days, Freeze feels like the players have given him a lot. Covington pressures Bo File Photo "I don't know if you are ever where you want to be," he smiled. "But I do think we have gotten the most out of the time we have had. We have only had one day where the kids didn't bring it. For the most part, they have given us good effort and energy on the practice fields, in the weight room and in the film room. "I divide fall camp into segments and tomorrow's segment ends segment one, the toughest part of fall camp. It's a grind going 10 days without any break at all." One thing we have heard and watched for since Freeze has been at Ole Miss is the team being in good enough shape to run the offense he wants to run. Where does that stand. "It's hard to tell right now because this is our ninth straight day without a break and I am sure we have some gassed and fatigue players," he said. "One thing we have to be careful with in evaluating that is do we have enough depth to do that as consistently as we want to. The jury is still out on that." Tonight's practice, which will be mostly the younger guys and backups getting the bulk of the work, is closed to the media and public. "We are going to give the ones and two a little break tonight and work the younger guys a lot. We want the main guys as fresh as possible for the scrimmage," Hugh said. "We have an SEC crew coming in here to officiate and we need to play clean - penalty free. "We want to take care of the football, stay on schedule on offense and be sound on both sides of the ball. We are doing so much in practice right now that there is a little confusion on the back end of the defense at times. We want them to show signs of being more sound back there and we want to see a little better tackling. We want to limit big plays as well." After tomorrow morning's scrimmage, the staff will discuss a depth chart, but Freeze said that's not his main focus. "I don't really care about a depth chart right now. What I want to know is how many players we have who we can put in the game on Saturday and help us win," he closed. "Who can play? I want to know how many linemen we have, how many receivers we have, how many linebackers we have, and so on. First team, second team, that's not what I am looking for. I'm looking for players who can help us compete. Can they play on Saturday?" Random Notes: * Sight for sore eyes - WR Donte Moncrief, who has missed the last three days with a deep bruise, returned to practice today. His presence is definitely felt on the offense,a s is his absence. Trae Elston File Photo * There's been some movement in the Rebel secondary since the injury to Rover Charles Sawyer. Ivan Nicholas has been moved from Husky to free safety, Chief Brown has been moved from FS to Rover and Cody Prewitt has been moved up to number one free safety - he was playing behind Chief. While freshman Trae Elston has shown he's going to be a special player in spurts, he needs more time to grasp everything the Rebels are doing on the back end of the defense. Quintavius Burdette is struggling a little mentally and has drifted back, temporarily, a bit. There has been no change in the evaluations that both Burdette and Elston will be good in the future, but neither are ready to start in this system at this juncture. * While freshman DT Issac Gross has already been tagged as "special," there are other inside defensive players who are showing up as well. Gilbert Pena continues to have a solid camp and Carlton Martin is also showing improvement. The word on Carlton is that he just needs to "turn it loose" more frequently. * Former Rebel great Derrick Burgess worked with the defensive line as a student volunteer last spring. Today, for the first time this fall camp, D.B. was back out there helping with the DL. He says he's back for good now. Nice addition to the DL room. * Freeze mentioned some "twos" who were starting to make a move, but he left it dangling a bit. Here are some names that keep popping up: OG Corey Gaines - yep, he's improving after playing most of his career on defense; freshman WR Cody Core; Elston at Rover; Patrick Junen and Justin Bell on the OL; Gross and martin; Devin Thomas at TB in power sets and Husky Brishen Mathews is starting to show the form expected of him. * The early Red Ball work today exhibited some offensive firepower. Brunetti hit Ja-Mes Logan for a 40-yard TD on the first play and then followed immediately up with 60-yard strike to Philander Moore. Bow Wallace then found Moncrief for a 25-yard TD and Mikhail Miller connected with Josh Pinkston on a 65-yard TD strike. The only blemish in the period was Wallace throwing an ill-advised pass that Elston intercepted. * DC Dave Wommack was not pleased with the way the Red Ball period went. Hence, he stopped defensive drills and had the entire defense run some wind sprints. That was accompanied by a bit of forceful verbiage. The defense got the point and played well most of the rest of practice. * In other team drills, some highlights included two Aaron Garbutt QB sacks and Brunetti "dealing" in a third-down drill with three straight third-and-long completions, two to Logan and one to Randall Mackey. * Early in fall camp, it appeared Junen might unseat Pierce Burton at the number one RT slot. Burton was having none of that and has turned it up with the added competition. It now appears Burton has taken control of the top RT slot. * Saturday's scrimmage will be on top practice field at 9:45 a.m. Again, it is open to the public.
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