I was in Omaha when I saw the countdown to football on Twitter. I think the number was 69.
I understand there’s excitement in counting down to the day of the first game, but the real start of football is just a few hours over two weeks away.
SEC Media Days begin July 14 in Hoover.
For all intents and purposes it begins football for the media. Technically there will be some summer remaining after Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and three others help bring the event to a close on July 17.
When Media Days was a little later on the calendar it seemed like you really did go straight from Hoover to the beginning of training camp.
There’s a little gap in there now, and I’ll take my final week of vacation then, but there is so much spin-off coverage from Media Days that it really does seem to signal the beginning of football.
I am breaking bricks again this week after a week off last week. I’ll be gone for the week preceding Media Days too. July is the month that I work in most of my vacation weeks.
Cliff Godwin’s new job and Senquez Golson’s arrest made news for Ole Miss last week. So did former track star Brittney Reese and current one Sam Kendricks.
If things begin to look really slow in the coming days just remember that the SEC’s bash is just around the corner.
Here are a few questions I believe will be asked of Freeze:
Suspended Players: In April Freeze said he was pleased with the progress of Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche. He was hesitant to offer too much praise, he said, because “the minute I jump out there and become very optimistic we could have a setback,” he said.
Both are suspended because of off-season arrests. Freeze announced before the start of spring practice that Bryant could work his way back into good standing before the season opener with Boise State in Atlanta but that Nkemdiche would be suspended for at least that game.
Now it would seem that Golson’s status is unclear. On the post-spring depth chart Golson is listed No. 1 at Field Cornerback. Behind him are Cliff Coleman and Kailo Moore.
Bo Wallace: Most in the ballroom will want to know whether Freeze believes having an experienced third-year starter at quarterback gives him a chance to move Ole Miss up in the division standings. Freeze will answer something along the lines of “You’d like to think so, but there have been some inexperienced quarterbacks who played pretty well lately.” He’ll point to Johnny Manziel and Nick Marshall.
The bigger question for Wallace right now is how did things go with his trip to California to see shoulder specialist Tom House? What did Freeze think of the video he saw from that visit and how did it go with Freeze’s conversations with House? What did Wallace take from that trip that can help keep his shoulder at peak performance level the entire season?
Offensive Line: The surprise departure of Austin Golson subtracts a key recruit from the 2013 class and will be felt at center as well tackle. Robert Conyers, a third-year sophomore, was very much a part of the competition to replace Evan Swindall. Now he’s been moved back to right tackle. He’ll start at No. 1 in August.
There will be hearty competition with junior college transfer Fahn Cooper and possibly UCLA transfer Christian Morris if he’s healthy and gets the NCAA waiver.
But Golson’s move weakens the middle of the line too. If Ben Still doesn’t win the job at center, it’s possible you’ll see guard Justin Bell join that mix. That would mean freshman Rod Taylor would likely be called on to play right away.
I think you have to have game-ready freshmen. The best teams do. Bell at center and Taylor at guard — if he’s as good as his recruiting coverage says — is a scenario that could give Ole Miss a solid OL interior.
But it’s a scenario that hurts OL depth, and quality depth up front would be a big bonus for this team.