Freeze Pleased With Energy at Tuesday’s Practice

For the second time this spring, weather forced the Rebel football team indoors for practice but the change in scenery did nothing to affect the team’s intensity and energy, during practice Tuesday.

The football program also held its Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day during Tuesday’s practice, with more than 75 professors and administrators on hand to watch practice and eat dinner with the team and coaching staff, after practice.

“I loved the energy,” Head Coach Hugh Freeze said after the team’s practice in the Indoor Practice Facility.  “I thought everybody was flying around and playing with great passion and that’s what we’ve got to have to get where we want to get in year one.  I’m really pleased with this padded practice, before we have to go one more non-padded before Saturday. I thought there was great competition.  Offense won the first competition, defense won the team pass by a landslide, and then the offense came back and won a close one, at the end, on the first down one, so it was a great day.”

After having a chance to review the game film from Saturday’s scrimmage, Freeze said he has already seen some improvements in Tuesday’s practice but added there are still improvements that need to be made.

“Offensively, we do not have an awareness of staying on schedule,” he said.  “From quarterbacks to receivers to running backs, second-and-threes become third-and-sixes because we don’t understand its second-and-three and we have to stay on schedule. I thought there was some better play on the offensive line, in the run game, in the scrimmage.  When we went to our tempo stuff, the defense got tired and got a little sloppy; other than that, they really dominated the series.  Some of it is they may still not be playing free and fast and are having to think too much, and that will come, but I wish it would come a little faster.”

Freeze also commented on his quarterbacks –  Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace.

“Brunetti threw for a few more yards, but I thought Wallace did a few more things to keep us on schedule,” Freeze said.  “It’s not so much that you are getting huge gains, but getting one-yarders instead of a minus five.  We just can’t take a negative play in this offense and survive.”

When it comes to the run game, the offensive line has caught Freeze’s eye, as he complimented the group on their improvement throughout spring drills.

“I really had very little preconceived notions because they lost Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie. I think (Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach) Matt Luke has done a wonderful job in preparing them.  I think our first group, right now, has no doubt improved in the run game.  We are still a long way away in pass protection and we have to have some of that second team improve in the off-season.”

Kickoff of next Saturday’s BancorpSouth Grove Bowl is set for 1 p.m. CT, with stadium gates opening at noon. CSS will televise the game, live.

Available through the athletics ticket office, tickets are $10 general admission, $40 for the southzone club level and free for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff. All proceeds benefit the M-Club’s J.W. “Wobble” Davidson Scholarship Fund.

Saturday’s festivities will kick off with tailgating at 10 a.m. in The Grove with food, merchandise and children’s games, and at 10:45, the team will tread the traditional Walk of Champions. At 11 a.m. on the Grove stage, Eli Manning headlines a group of Rebel greats set to take part in an awards ceremony and panel discussion on the NFL.

Other events of Grove Bowl Week are a softball doubleheader with Kentucky Wednesday at 4 p.m.; the SEC Women’s Tennis Tournament Thursday through Sunday; the Chucky Mullins Award Banquet Thursday at 7 p.m.; a free concert in The Grove with Gavin DeGraw and special guest Craig Morgan Friday at 8:30 p.m.; and a baseball weekend series against Arkansas.

Special to The Real Story

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