BLOG — Tuesday’s spring practice for Ole Miss’ football team was a start. Wednesday’s practice was even better.
For the second straight day, the Rebels went through a two-hour practice inside the Manning Center. It was just the second of 15 spring sessions over the next month, and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze will need all of them to find out exactly who can contribute at which positions heading into the fall. But the Rebels’ energy, Freeze said, has been there all along.
“We really want to try to have 15 consistent days of attitude and effort, and I really thought yesterday, after watching the film, I was really pleased with that,” Freeze said following Wednesday’s practice. “We turned the ball over too much yesterday. Today, we had some explosive plays. Still turned it over some, but no question the energy was there.”
The Rebels worked in pants and helmets, ending the practice with the offense going up against the defense and one-on-one competitions between wide receivers and defensive backs. Injuries and suspensions have depleted parts of the roster for now, but Freeze said his team will continue to go all out with the players that are on the field.
“There’s some issues and limitations we have, but with what we do have in place, it’s important that we develop the players we recruited, that we see them getting better and getting more confident and that we’re getting great effort and attitude out of them for a consistent 15 days,” Freeze said.
A couple of players getting plenty of reps are redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade, who are in a battle along with former Lafayette standout Jeremy Liggins to replace Barry Brunetti as senior Bo Wallace’s backup. Freeze said Buchanan threw a couple of interceptions on Wednesday, though Freeze blamed receivers for wrong routes rather than the throws, while Kincade showed some elusiveness on one particular play, scrambling out of the pocket to his right before uncorking a long touchdown pass to wideout Cale Luke for a touchdown.
Both signal callers, Freeze said, have done some good things.
“We just have two days really to judge it on, but I couldn’t be more pleased right now,” Freeze said. “I think Ryan mentally understands exactly what’s going on. I think Devante, you saw him break containment there, get out and throw a ball on the run about 50 yards on the money for a touchdown. Plays like that change a game, explosive plays that you don’t really count on. They’ve got some different strengths there, but I’m pleased with them so far.”
The Rebels will take Thursday off before returning for a 6 a.m. practice on Friday. It will be the team’s first workout in full pads.
“Putting on the pads for the first time, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a team that really didn’t respond to that pretty well, so I think that one will be fairly easy to get excited for,” Freeze said. “We want to have 15 physical days, and I know it’s a risk and all of that, but I just don’t know how you take a team from where we are to where we want to go without doing that. It’s going to be a physical practice.”
Below is part of Freeze’s post-practice meeting with reporters, which includes the coach’s thoughts on the news that the NCAA Rules Committee has withdrawn the controversial 10-second rule proposal. There’s also an interview with senior Deterrian Shackelford, who talks about being granted a sixth year of eligibility and his move from defensive end to middle linebacker.
See Thursday’s edition of the EAGLE for more on Wednesday’s practice. (March 5, 2014)