BLOG: It’s not officially football season until Media Day has come and gone.
Well, as far as Ole Miss is concerned, today marked the start of the fall season when first-year head coach Hugh Freeze addressed the local media at the Indoor Practice Facility.
The former Ed Orgeron assistant and Arkansas State head coach addressed a number of topics, ranging from health and position changes to depth charts and what percentage of the team has bought into his new system and philosophy.
“The last couple of weeks leading up to this day have been filled with new things for me,” he said, referring to events like SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., and the ESPN “Car Wash.”
One of the No. 1 question areas heading into fall camp involves Ole Miss’ stable of relatively unproven running backs.
In addition to Jeff Scott, Ole Miss doesn’t have a lot of experience in the position.
As a result, Freeze announced that former quarterback-turned-receiver Randall Mackey is now getting looks at running back.
“Randall is going to be in the tailbacks room,” Freeze said. “That doesn’t mean he’s always going to line up there. How much he can handle in camp will let us know that.”
Freeze also mentioned that Nick Parker has dropped weight — running backs coach Derrick Nix later said Parker weighed around 250 pounds at one point and is now below 230 — and that Devin Thomas should factor into the rotation.
“That’s a position we’re very concerned with depth wise,” he said.
TWO OUT OF FOUR: Asked about the status of senior tight end Jamal Mosley, Freeze said the Memphis native’s future is up in the air and that there’s a checklist of things he must accomplish.
“We gave Jamal four things he has to do. He has completed two of them and as he continues to hopefully progress to where we need him to be, and show us he can be accountable,” Freeze said. “We will re-evaluate that. In all total honesty, we tried to evaluate him in what he’s done since we‘ve been here, which he has made significant improvement I think in the decisions that he has made since we’ve been there and that’s always a tough call.
“We are still evaluating that and have not made a decision exactly what suspended indefinitely is going to be.”
INJURY UPDATE: It appears the Rebels are mostly healthy heading into camp.
“It looks like Uriah Grant is going to be two weeks. He is going through drills but will be held out of the full contact stuff,” Freeze said. “Keith (Lewis) has been released to go. Bryon Bennett is good to go. I think Uriah is the only one who right now won’t be in full contact and he will be out there and in drills.”
BUYING IN: With regard to his new team buying into what he’s attempting to teach them, Freeze estimated he has about a 75 percent acceptance rate.
“In our team meeting last night I said let’s just start here. If there is a piece of trash in the parking lot, what do you do with that piece of trash? You pick it up and you put it in the trash. If there is trash in your locker room you clean it up. We’ve changed a lot of things,” he said. “Ross Bjork has done an amazing job since getting here. I don’t know if you have seen our locker room but it looks like a new one. It looks like a new one. We aren’t through. They are still working on that. August 6 is the completion date. He has done a great job. Well, how do we treat that? I just visited with Allen Walker and said if you can tell the team one thing what would that be? He said, man, it would have to be discipline.
“So whether or not the winning gets us the total buy in, I don’t know, but I do know where it starts; with us being accountable for the little things, off the field and on the field. Certainly, winning is going to help and we can believe in each other a little more so hopefully we can get off to a start and get a few of those.”
MOVING AROUND: In addition to Mackey, Freeze said E.J. Epperson has been moved to defensive end and incoming freshman John Youngblood has switched from defensive end to tight end.
THE WAITING GAME: Asked about the status of incoming freshmen Channing Ward and Temario Strong, Freeze said he’s hopeful both are cleared by the NCAA but he doesn’t have a definite timetable.
“I wish I could expedite that process. I do feel like our people that are working with us and in compliance are pushing as hard as they can but they work on their own timetable. We do have everything in,” Freeze said. “I was hoping and had my fingers crossed I’d hear today for tomorrow. But I haven’t yet, but the day is not over. Channing’s would be a little longer because he has to finish the coursework he just finished this past Tuesday. I couldn’t see how it couldn’t go our way.”
(For a complete wrapup from today’s media day and this weekend’s practice, checkout Monday’s print edition of the Oxford EAGLE.)
(August 3, 2012)