Injuries force change to Grove Bowl format

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – With injuries keeping a number of Ole Miss players out of spring drills, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze took a safe approach to the annual spring game Saturday.
What resulted in the BancorpSouth Grove Bowl was not a division of teams but a carefully orchestrated practice televised by CSS.
An announced crowd of 28,000 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium watched the Rebels go through a number of situational exercises including three portions of full scrimmage.
The only offensive touchdowns came on drives led by third-string quarterback Robert Ratliff.
The first score was a 1-yard run by Nick Parker, the second a 10-yard run by walk-on Jimmy Potepa.
The other touchdown was a 75-yard interception return by linebacker Serderius Bryant, who also had 1.5 sacks and a pass break-up.
“You just want to see kids play extremely hard, do their assignment and make plays whether it’s offense or defense. We saw some of that,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
A lengthy list of players were held out or participated very little.
One of those players making plays was wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan. With Donte Moncrief held out of scrimmage work and Vince Sanders held out altogether, Logan had a lot balls thrown his way. He responded with five catches for 101 yards.
“Ja-Mes probably had the best spring of everybody. He’s been solid every single day and made some nice plays today,” Freeze said.
While there weren’t many touchdowns, there was scoring from kicker Andrew Ritter and Andy Pappanastos.
Ritter, the starter, was 3-for-5 in the scrimmage work, hitting from 38, 24 and 35 and missing from 45 and 47.
Pappanastos was 2-for-2, hitting from 39 and 46.
Ritter had been the Rebels’ kickoff specialist but was redshirted last year in anticipation of replacing Bryson Rose this season.
“Pappanastos made a long one. They looked good against air in that first period. When we went live we were very consistent from 40 and in,” Freeze said. “We were inconsistent.”
The constant in the drives was Logan, who twice beat defensive back Dehendret Collins.
His first catch came on a sideline route with Barry Brunetti passing and went for 43 yards.
With Ratliff passing Logan got a step on Collins on a crossing pattern. That play went for 40 yards, and the drive ended with a 1-yard score by Parker.
Brunetti finished 3-for-13 passing for 55 yards and an interception. Miller was 7-for-11 for 46 yards.
Brunetti was not bothered by the offense’s inability to score touchdowns.
“We executed some plays well. We made a few mistakes that kept us out of the end zone, but no worries at all. Playing against our defense for the last 14 practices, they’re going to know what we’re going to do. I feel good about both sides,” he said.
parrish.alford@journalinc.com