Camp thoughts and observations

Again, calling on the sense of hearing for this. Next round of interviews is tomorrow. …

Hugh Freeze has a Mystery Leader at quarterback. The first thing he mentions when puts that guy in position to win the job is composure.

How does the guy handle the blitz? How does he handle pre-snap reads and set protections?

It all goes back to ball protection and the high rate of interceptions thrown by Ole Miss quarterbacks since Eli.

Freeze took it a step further. He talked about What the ball looks like coming out of the quarterbacks hand in those situations.

That’s big. If it wobbles, floats or otherwise has no zip it often ends with an interception.

So the Mystery Leader has done these things better, in Freeze’s estimation, than the other competitors.

It sounds, possibly, like a guy who has a strong understanding of the offense and makes the right calls quickly, perhaps a guy who is beginning his third year in the offense. Does it sound like Ryan Buchanan?

It does.

Sometimes a certain skill set, like the deep ball skill with¬†which Freeze has described Chad Kelly, can save you when you’ve not made the best decision.

If the leader is Buchanan that could very well be the struggle Freeze faces right now, making a call between a player with Kelly’s skill set vs. a player who may be a more safe option right now.

The deep ball could very well be a bigger part of the play-calling this year. Vince Sanders was a hustler and fan favorite, but he was still just 185 pounds. Laquon Treadwell is back and healthy, and now — it appears — that Washington transfer Damore’ea Stringfellow (6-2, 220) is focused and having a good camp. Quincy Adeboyejo, at 6-3, has another year of experience.

Freeze didn’t speak in glowing terms about Derrick Jones earlier this week, but he’s had consistent praise for Stringfellow, and if the new fellow is indeed ready to perform that gives the Rebels physically imposing targets on either side of the field. Plus Evan Engram.

If Freeze is struggling with the safe vs. skill decision I would expect two quarterbacks to play for the first two games. Ultimately Freeze will weigh risk and reward. Coaches often lean to the skill set until they get burned with poor decisions.

Elsewhere …

Sounds like Freeze is pleased with his run game. It’s not about average 6 or 7 yards a carry. It’s about what he calls “dirty runs,” the 1 and 2 yard runs that may not gain much ground but don’t give it up.

I suspect the offensive line will be improved. The way camp is trending it looks like Robert Conyers has a good shot to start at center. Freeze had good things to say about Fahn Cooper earlier this week.

This is all good for the run game, but it doesn’t stop with the line. The Rebels have bigger backs in the rotation than they’ve had at any time under Freeze.

If the blocking’s a little better and a 220-pound back hits the hole you’re not going to have runs of minus-1, 2 and 3 yards very often.

Freeze’s first goal for the run game is to not give up ground. Ultimately the run game will have to do more than that. For the offense to be all it can be Ole Miss is going to have to run the ball successfully for certain periods of certain games, more than it did last year.

Signs point to the Rebels being better on the ground. …

The Jordan Sims weight loss story is really impressive. It remains to be seen if Sims, a redshirt freshman, will work his way into the offensive line rotation, but he’s much more confident in his ability and excited about how he feels after going from 384 to 330 and aiming for 320. …

Along the defensive line the signing of junior college tackle DJ Jones was big news, but I’ve heard more about Breeland Speaks this camp.

When we talked about Jones in the spring there was a lot of excitement for his athleticism and ability. I think he’ll make an impact.

Sounds like a lot of confidence in Speaks too.

Both these guys are listed at tackle on the depth chart, and playing behind Robert Nkemdiche doesn’t sound like a great way to get on the field.

There will be some shuffling.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • Killer_Beeze

    Speaks is bigger than Nkemdiche (when you put them side by side) and almost as athletic. He will fit nicely in the D-line after Robert is playing on Sundays.
    Great report PA.

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