By Staff and wire reports
OXFORD – Wednesday was the first of four two-a-day practices for Ole Miss, and Rebels coach Hugh Freeze felt like he saw improvement in his offense.
That improvement showed up in the running game, which had gaps and creases from an offensive line that Freeze hopes is beginning to come together.
“I know Matt (Luke) is working extremely hard with them and they are studying a lot of film to find their mistakes and coming out and trying to work on those in individuals and carry that over into the team settings,” Freeze said. “There is no doubt they got better you see the results of us getting more positive yards running the football.”
Starter Jeff Scott and Randall Mackey – the converted quarterback – both had nice runs in the evening workout.
While Mackey’s move created a lot of buzz at the beginning of camp, he hasn’t been pounded with repetitions since practice began. There’s an effort to create depth behind Scott – the only experienced player at the position – and freshmen I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton are getting plenty of snaps, along with veterans Devin Thomas and Nick Parker.
Mackey’s athleticism makes him a candidate not only to be the No. 2 running back but to see playing time at wide receiver, particularly after the loss of inside receiver Collins Moore to a torn labrum.
“I’ve said from Day 1 with Randall that if he gets his act together off the field, he fits into what we do, and he can be a very valuable part. Hopefully that will continue the way it’s going right now,” Freeze said.
Sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief has begun to do a little more in practice. He’s been limited since getting hit on the thigh on the second day.
Moore’s situation will be more long-term. It’s still unclear if he will respond to treatment and be able to play this season. There will be surgery on the shoulder, Freeze said, it’s just a matter of when.
Success for the offense in Wednesday’s work meant a better day for quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti. Freeze was critical of both players for their decisions and ball-protection on Tuesday.
Freeze is seeing more understanding from his players as he continues to install the offense.
“You know we have got some good, sound stuff – we just have to get it all in and get our kids understanding it. Some of that happened tonight.”