By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Rains chased Ole Miss football practice indoors for the first time this spring, much to the disappointment of Rebels coach Hugh Freeze.
Freeze was not disappointed, however, in what he saw once the workout got going, particularly from his defense.
As his offensive line continues to work toward more consistency within the new offensive scheme, defense has often had the upper hand in 11-on-11 work.
“The energy was really, really good, but unfortunately, the offense didn’t match the defense,” Freeze said. “I was pleased with the effort, and the way they got after us today.”
One player really getting after it was Denzel Nkemdiche, the redshirt freshman, who made the move from safety to strong side linebacker.
“We freed him up to not have to worry so much about covering in space, and I know on some zone blitzes they brought, he looked really good at getting there in a hurry,” Freeze said.
Nkemdiche had three sacks in the scrimmage portion of practice.
“He made a play from the back side, running it down from the wide side, and that was a great effort play.”
Some other wrinkles in Tuesday’s work included sophomore receiver Tobias Singleton at running back and, for the first time, junior college transfer offensive lineman Pierce Burton with the second team.
Singleton took a few snaps at running back in last year’s final regular season game against Mississippi State.
“Y’all know how thin we are there. I asked him today if he thought he could do that. He said, ‘absolutely,’ I thought he looked pretty decent at it for not knowing what he was doing,” Freeze said.
Burton was expected to come in and challenge for a starting job and had been running with the first team at right tackle since the beginning of spring drills.
Tuesday the tackles were Emmanuel McCray on the right and Aaron Morris on the left. Redshirt freshman Justin Bell ran with the first team at left guard.
Freeze said Burton’s new depth chart status was due to his performance during Monday’s 5:30 a.m., practice.
The Rebels will have another sunrise service on Thursday after an off day today.
“Monday morning he didn’t like getting up early, and it showed in the way he played. We challenged him. I don’t know how he did today. He’ll fight. He’ll fight to get it back,” Freeze said.