PARRISH ALFORD: Rebels’ freshmen making baby steps

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Cody Core catches the football. That would seem to be a repetitive statement when discussing a wide receiver, but some do it better than others.
For Ole Miss, Core, a true freshman from Auburn, Ala., has been impressive in camp.
He hasn’t been impressive enough, though, for any playing time promises from his head coach.
Core is working to get into a rotation that could be as high as eight in number when the Rebels start relying on the up-tempo offense.
“Cody has shown flashes,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze says. “He’s swimming right now when we’re going fast, as are the young tailbacks, but he’ll be fine. He’ll help us get up to that six, seven or eight (number).”
If Core hasn’t truly distinguished himself among the freshman, defensive lineman Issac Gross has.
Freeze didn’t hesitate when asked who has been his most consistent freshman.
It’s not surprising for that answer to come from the defensive side. That’s where most plays have been made in Camp Wilderness, and Gross has shown a quickness and work ethic that endears him to coaches.
The reality is if either Cody Core or Issac Gross have to play big roles on this football team then it’s just another danger sign, a reminder of where the program is, the wilderness of which Freeze so often spoke in the off-season.
A wise old coach once said you lose a game for every true freshman you start. I haven’t done the math there, but it’s not hard to draw the connection between inexperience and wins and losses.
Charting the freshmen is a favorite past-time this time of year. They are the hope for the future, and hope sells.
But the practices, meetings and all that go into August are about competing in the present.
Along those lines, the offense has taken steps the last couple of days. There’s not enough consistency among quarterbacks Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace to declare a leader, and Freeze insists that both will play – at least in the early part of the season.
Practice these days is a mixed bag of results, good plays and bad ones from both quarterbacks. Freeze has criticized their decisions and has encouraged when possible.
Those decisions have often been made on the fly after breakdowns behind a line that has yet to put it all together.
That time, though, may be coming. The baby steps on offense have come as Freeze cites better protection from both the offensive line and running backs.
The improvement of the week will be tested Saturday in the first major scrimmage of camp.
A strong showing by the offense against a defense that has been pretty good through first week could be the first step down the path leading out of the wilderness.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Djournal.com.