By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – It’s easy to look at the last three games of the 2011 Ole Miss football season and call them a complete wipeout.
In the three games following the announced firing of former coach Houston Nutt, the Rebels were 0-3 and outscored 113-10.
However, there were some who found the silver lining.
“They gave me experience. It eliminates going out the first game and being nervous when you see 50,000 people in the crowd,” said Ole Miss sophomore Cody Prewitt.
Prewitt appeared in all 12 games last year, his playing time increasing down the stretch when he started the final four games.
He finished with 32 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
He’s shown a nose for the ball in camp, picking off a Bo Wallace pass at the goalline late in last Saturday’s scrimmage.
Prewitt has taken over at rover in the absence of the injured Charles Sawyer. Playing time at the end of last season helped prepare him, he says.
“All the younger guys who played last year, once they know the defense, they don’t have to go through that awkward stage of the first few games,” Prewitt said.
A stronger leg from senior Bryson Rose and the emergence of Nathan Noble, a freshman walk-on from Greenville, has Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze considering a redshirt season for Andrew Ritter.
Ritter has handled kickoffs since his freshman season. He has no placement kicks in a game, but he would replace Rose in that role next season.
“He’s been hitting the ball great. I think it makes sense to redshirt him and let him do both next year. I think it would be good,” Rose said.
Going into his senior year Rose has converted 25 of 29 field goal attempts. He’s been known more for accuracy than leg strength, but that may be changing.
Rose says he feels comfortable with field goal attempts from 55 yards and in.
“The strength staff has been great. I do a lot of yoga, I stretch all the time. That’s one thing I really focus on, being flexible and just having confidence in my snapper and holder,” Rose said.
Freeze says Rose and Noble have both been dependable on kickoffs through camp with good distance and hang time.
Kickoffs will move forward to the 35-yard line this season, a rules change meant to encourage more touchbacks. Following touchbacks – on kickoffs only – the ball will be placed at the 25-yard line.
Freeze said Ritter’s family would be involved in any decision to redshirt him.
nfl caliber WR
Freeze, who coached receivers at Ole Miss in 2007, has said wide receiver Donte Moncrief has a possible NFL future.
It’s been hard for Moncrief to show those skills after suffering a thigh bruise the second day of camp.
He was held out of work for a period of time then appeared rusty in last week’s scrimmage. He’s been working his way back into shape and turned in a tackle-breaking touchdown run after catching a short pass from Bo Wallace on Wednesday morning.
“Right now I’m 80-85 percent. I can’t cut like I used to, but it’s coming along. I’ve just got to run the tightness out of my leg. Once I get that down I’ll be back to the regular me,” he said.
Moncrief led the Rebels in receptions (31), receiving yards (454) and touchdowns (4) as a true freshman last season.