Early in the bowl prep, the coaching staff has focused on getting some younger players – particularly linebacker Temario Strong, offensive tackle Robert Conyers and running back I’tavius Mathers, all freshmen – more reps.
Strong, a redshirt from South Panola, was moved from defensive end before bowl practices began.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze reflected on Strong’s first few days there after Wednesday’s practice.
“He doesn’t really know what he’s doing right now ... Spring practices will be a good test for him to get in and start learning the install and then translating that to the field,” Freeze said. “No doubt he’s physical and loves to play.”
Said linebackers coach Tom Allen: “He can really run, but he’s very raw, but I’ve been encouraged this week by his play. Once he gets through spring ball he definitely has a bright future.”
Freeze said Conyers (6-foot-3, 277) can play a role next year: “We’ve been real pleased with Robert. I think his redshirt year has been good for him and with another spring I think he’ll be ready to contribute.”
Mathers had three rushes of 25-plus yards in the team drills on Wednesday, and his head coach noticed. “He has had a very good week,” Freeze said. “All three days it seems like I’m saying the same things, like a broken record, but he’s had a good week.”
In the regular season, Mathers rushed 21 times for 112 yards, with a long run of 15.