By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The Ole Miss wide receivers responded to a challenge from their head coach and showed notable improvement on the second day of spring football drills for the Rebels.
New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is installing an offense he wants to be fast-paced, a tempo that requires all 11 players to be on top of their game at all time.
After Day 1 on Friday, he thought the receivers could be a lot better, and he shared that opinion with the players and their coach, Grant Heard.
“The mental busts, I went in with coach Heard last night and them this morning, kind of challenged them. We had to get things corrected from Day 1 to Day 2, and I really thought they improved. They had a little swagger to them,” Freeze said.
Wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan, a rising junior, was a dependable target for more than one quarterback, especially on out routes in the 11-on-11 team drills.
Later in the drill work, Logan – while guarded closely by safety Tanner Burns – made a nifty grab of a deep ball from Barry Brunetti.
“Everybody’s trying to win a spot, and we have to come out and compete,” sophomore Tobias Singleton said.
Freeze liked what he saw in the inside running game as well.
He’ll have a better idea of how players are really adapting to implementation of the new offense when the Rebels work out in full gear for the first time today.
Friday and Saturday workouts were in shorts and helmets.
Even without full gear, quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner has been able to get a read on his players with their timing and likes what he sees so far.
“I really thought we’d have a lot of mentals, because we’re going at such a high pace,” Werner said. “The guys have really picked it up well. I’m proud of them. Today, I saw a big improvement of trying to throw the ball on time. I was real excited about that.”
The offensive line competition is without senior Matt Hall, a 12-game starter at right guard last year.
Hall is dressed but not going through team drills.
Freeze said there are off-field “issues” making Hall’s status for next season uncertain.
“He’s got some issues we’ve got to take care off the field, before we can feel like we can count on him for next fall. We’re just going through those with he and his family right now. He’s a great kid, and we want everything to work out, but we still don’t know if that’s the case or not.”
Without Hall, the first-team offensive line is currently comprised of sophomore Aaron Morris at left tackle, Patrick Junen at left guard, Evan Swindall at center, A.J. Hawkins at right guard, and junior college transfer Pierce Burton at right tackle.