By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The NCAA’s 15 spring football practices were enough – barely enough – for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach David Lee.
Lee was introducing different parts of his offense as late as Friday afternoon.
He called Thursday’s practice his unit’s best, but Friday the Rebels slowed down to process new information.
“Our guys know what kind of personality we want to have based on the way we practice and that’s to be a tough, physical run-first football team,” Lee said.
It should not be surprising then that Lee considers his run game ahead of his passing game at this point.
Fans who attended, a press box-estimated 10,000 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, also didn’t see Lee show too much of his offense.
“There was a lot of stuff that was held back today, we were very basic, very vanilla,” he said.
• Sophomore safety Brishen Mathews had a solid day for the Blue Team with eight tackles, a half tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up.
Reserve linebacker Josh Lancaster had eight tackles, and the Blue team got consistent pressure from sophomore end Carlos Thompson, who had seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.
Mackey’s speech issue
• Quarterback Randall Mackey was asked about the speech issue that has made headlines this spring. He responded with very little speech but did say, “I’ve come a long way. In high school I didn’t do that (call the plays) at all. I just went off the leg.”
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Mackey’s improvement in communicating plays in the huddle has been dramatic.
Nutt said last fall the problem was so prevalent that he called and quizzed Mackey’s former coaches. What he learned was that other coaches adapted by having different players call snap counts and having Mackey communicate in different ways, such as in motion with his leg.
“Last year in the huddle you could feel something was wrong,” Nutt said. “He’s come a million miles. He does the checks, calls the huddle, does the 2-minute drill. He still has to get better, but he’s at a point I never thought he’d be.”
Counting on C.J. Johnson
• Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix sent a message to incoming freshman C.J. Johnson of Philadelphia after the game.
“He’s going to factor in men, I’m just going to tell it like it is, he’s going to play,” said Nix, who also coaches the linebackers. “We’re going to have a rotation, but the guys who are the most consistent will be in there the majority of the time.”
Nix lost his best player, junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford, to a torn ACL last Monday. He will likely miss the 2011 season.
Johnson (6-2, 235) was the state’s No. 1 recruit, a five-star prospect and former Mississippi State verbal commit who turned late in the process.