By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze closed Friday’s pre-breakfast workout by tellling his players to make good decisions.
He wasn’t talking about on the football field. Three workouts into spring drills the Rebels are off for spring break.
Freeze for the most part has been pleased with the on-field decisions he’s seen and believes retention after a week-long holiday won’t be a big problem.
At least not for both sides of the ball.
“We haven’t taught anything really offensively, but Dave (Wommack, defensive coordinator) and them see to have taught a bunch. We’ve only done two basic things,” Freeze said. “Our (defense) jumped Bear today. We certainly hadn’t practiced that at all.”
The basic approach by the offense didn’t keep the defense from gaining the upper hand in Friday’s pre-breakfast workout.
Freeze thought his backup quarterbacks took a slight backward step in the race for No. 2 behind Bo Wallace.
“There were some decent runs today, but the defense kind of dominated the team periods. The offense took better care of the ball today,” he said.
Linebackers coach Tom Allen said he expects that experience on defense – where nine starters return – will help with retention after the break.
Right now senior D.T. Shackelford is running first team at middle linebacker. Junior college transfer Christian Russell will also challenge for the job of replacing Mike Marry.
The experienced Ole Miss defense is going up an offensive line in transition.
The Rebels are looking for a center to replace Evan Swindall, a three-year starter. Lightly experienced underclassmen Ben Still and Robert Conyers are the top candidates right now, but Justin Bell, who started seven games at right guard and six at left guard last year, will get a look there later this spring.
Redshirt freshman Daronte Bouldin is currently first-team at right guard.
Offensive line coach Tom Luke said having to face junior nose tackle Isaac Gross has helped Still and Conyers.
“Going against a guy that quick they have to get better or they’re going to be embarrassed,” Luke said.
“The competition has been good. For the most part the snaps have been pretty good, and in a shotgun offense sometimes you take that for granted. The No. 1 thing we wanted to do this spring was get the play off and get the snap back there.”