By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – With its bowl game still almost a month away, Ole Miss won’t begin full-scale practice until Monday.
In the meantime, it seems like a good time to reflect on Hugh Freeze Year I, what worked and what didn’t work so well:
Worked a little
Saving the specialists: Redshirting kickoff specialist Andrew Ritter and punter Tyler Campbell was a good move to build for the future.
When freshman walk-on Nathan Noble struggled early, Bryson Rose was around to handle kickoffs and actually did quite well.
There was no back-up plan when walk-on punter Jim Broadway struggled down the stretch, and short punts created field position problems.
Mackey’s move: The day before practice began, Freeze announced the move of Randall Mackey to running back. Good move, I thought.
When Mackey was at receiver in the spring, I thought he was a much more physical runner than he showed while running from the quarterback position in 2011.
Mackey never rushed for more than 66 yards in a game. He might have done more had he stayed at receiver, but when the freshmen backs saw so little SEC playing time it really hurt running back depth for Mackey to spend too much time at receiver.
Mackey would not have been a loss easily absorbed, but at the end he’s been jack of all trades, master of none.
Worked a lot
Bo Wallace: It seemed that Wallace’s in-game decisions were a constant story line, and there were poor ones that led to most of his 15 interceptions. That’s far too many picks, and the Rebels won’t get much past 6-6 if that number doesn’t improve.
Consider, though, that Wallace joined the program only last January. He was a rookie getting hit with a new campus, new teammates, and he played the SEC season with an ailing shoulder after a hit in the Tulane game in late September.
For Wallace to overcome those challenges and throw for 2,843 yards and 19 touchdowns in quite impressive.
Defense: An FCS quarterback gashed the Rebels and led Central Arkansas to a halftime lead in the season opener. A red flag was raised.
Texas put up almost 700 yards on this defense in Week 3. Another red flag.
Coordinator Dave Wommack encouraged his players to trust the system and one another, preaching all the while for players to play with their eyes to see where to be, and a pretty good run defense emerged over the back half of the season.
Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin did a solid job with his group, and Wommack got production from a number of freshmen in the secondary, though inexperience and depth issues were also visible.
Tempo Offense: It’s Freeze’s calling card, and the Rebels were comfortable and often successful when running it.
Depth kept Freeze from running it as often as he’d like. Expect to see it more in 2013.
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs at InsideOleMissSports.com.