By John Luke McCord
“Disappointing, but maybe expected,” Hugh Freeze said following Wednesday’s work.
He was referring to his team’s two consecutive poor days of practice. However, he says some of that could just be on him.
“Maybe I made my mind up that’s the way it would be, but today we did not have good focus on the offensive side. The defense did pretty good. I got so frustrated, I went down there (defensive side of practice) and stayed for a while,” he said.
With so much of the focus being on the Rebels this week, as they are trying to put together tough practices, but also get healthy, Freeze cautions the Idaho defense will be active and challenge the Rebels if they do not come to play.
“Very active, very active defense. They’re in the right positions. I feel like we have people that can make plays against them,” Freeze said.
He also noted that while Idaho has played offenses similar to the Rebels this season, it would be early in the game before they will be sure exactly how the Vandals will play the Rebel offensive attack.
With the loss of Evan Engram, the Rebel offense will look to Justin Bigham, Jack Nuismer, and Matt Brown, who was recently moved over from scout team. However, it will be Nick Parker, who scored his first career touchdown at Ole Miss on Saturday, that will have to be the guy at the h-back/tight end spot for the remainder of the season.
“We’ll have those four guys ready to go in some of those spots. Evan was on special teams, also. So it was a big hit,” Freeze said.
Serderius Bryant practiced on Wednesday, his second straight day to do so and Freeze said it appears he will be ready to give it a go on Saturday. Denzel Nkemdiche, however is “struggling” according to Freeze with his bum ankle. However, he practiced today after starting the workout inside the Manning Center.
Jordan Holder or Ja-mes Logan, if not Jeff Scott is how the depth chart at punt returner will look for Saturday. Even if he is unable to give the Rebel offense any carries, Scott very well could be able to handle his usual punt return duties on Saturday.
Evan Swindall missed practice yesterday and Ben Still and Robert Conyers are expected to see time on Saturday, as most of the second and third teamers will. Freeze assessed how Still and Conyers have looked this week.
“Up and down. They’re going to get thrown in there Saturday and we’ll see. They were better today on the timing of things, but both struggled at things,” Freeze said.
Freeze also addressed the production his offense has received from Donte Moncrief this season. He noted defenses are playing them differently this season and, as you would imagine, none are doing anything that would allow him anything deep. However, Freeze did something on Saturday, that could help in getting Moncrief more involved going forward.
“He had a good game the other night. We put him inside some. I think that helped him some, too,” Freeze said.