Rebel Bats Eager For Challenge of Texas A&M Arms

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This weekend's series at Blue Bell Park between Ole Miss and Texas A&M will feature two teams that mirror each other in a lot ways.

Both clubs pitch it well and are one and two in the SEC in team ERA with the Rebels carrying a slight edge at 2.19 to the Aggies' 2.32. Both teams are also hitting exactly .300 as a team through 22 games and one weekend of conference play.

Two veteran rotations will square off against each other beginning with sophomore lefty Ryan Rolison facing junior Aggie right-hander Stephen Kolek, a four-pitch guy with a good fastball and a wipeout slider. Kolek made 10 SEC starts a year ago for the Texas A&M, going 2-4 with a 4.55 ERA.

"It's always fun getting into SEC play facing the best arms," Thomas Dillard said. "These are the things you look forward to when you commit to Ole Miss."

Friday will feature Brady Feigl, Ole Miss' junior righty, who has been consistently dominant through the first month of the season. Feigl scattered four hits and one run over 6.1 innings in a win over Tennessee last Saturday to move to 5-0 on the year. He'll square off against lefty John Doxakis, a big 6-foot-4 frame who can hit 94 with good secondary stuff. Doxakis is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 27.1 innings this year.

James McArthur and Mitchell Kilkenny will round out the series on Saturday. Ole Miss faced Kilkenny out of the bullpen a year ago, and he's been dominant for the Aggies this season with a 5-0 record and 1.32 ERA in 34 innings.

"We have all heard about their arms," catcher Cooper Johnson said. "They've got three really good ones and it is going to be a challenge. As a catcher, I definitely respect that, a good pitching matchup.

This will likely be a tight series with two teams that have a lot of arms. The Ole Miss staff surrendered just one run over its final 20 innings of baseball last weekend after dropping the series opener to Tennessee. Pitching was thought to be the core strength of this team going into the season, and it has certainly shown the ability to lock opponents down for extended stretches over the course of a weekend.

"With the three guys we have on the weekend, it is a pretty reassuring feeling," Johnson said. "You only have to score a couple of runs. Obviously, you want to score nine runs every time, but with the level of competition we face, it is tough to do that. It is definitely reassuring to know if we string a couple innings together and score some runs, our starters will take us deep into the game and we have a lot of guys in the bullpen who can come in and shut it down."

This will be the first time the Rebels will enter an SEC road environment this season =. Mike Bianco thinks his team is eager for the challenge.

"They're very similar to us statistically in the sense they do a lot of things well," Bianco said. "They pitch it well. All three of their starters are really good and it should be a good challenge for us. Going on the road and the first tough environment for us. There should be good crowds with a top-10 matchup. I think these guys are excited."

Ole Miss last won a series in College Station two trips ago in 2014, when it clinched the SEC West on its way to Omaha. First pitch on Thursday is set for 6 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network.

"They're a good team like and have played good competition like we have," Johnson said. "I think we are just focused on playing the game and ourselves, taking it day-by-day and competing."

Rebels Return to Spring Practice

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Ole Miss returned to the practice field after a week-long hiatus during spring break. The Rebels are now in the second half of spring football, culminating with the Grove Bowl on April 7.

"There may have been a couple of mistakes from the layoff, but the energy was good," head coach Matt Luke said of the team's return to the field. "I thought they were physical. They had good session with weights yesterday to kind of get back into the swing of things and I thought it was a good practice."

Luke was bullish on two positions in particular, the running backs and the linebackers, two spots the Rebels have holes to fill from departures from the 2017 team and also two positions with some of new faces that will need to contribute next season. He was pleased with how the linebackers have been playing downhill against the run and the consistency of their reads.

"I really like that they're taking on Coach Sumrall's personality and playing physical," Luke said. "I saw a couple of physical plays that I haven't been seeing. Them playing down hill against the run and being physical. Josh Clarke made a really good play blowing up a play in the hole. There are some really good things going on, but obviously a long way to go and plenty to improve on."

On the other side of the football - one of the positions the linebackers have been tasked with neutralizing - Luke had high praise for newcomer Scottie Phillips at running back before the team departed for spring break. He hasn't changed his tune since on the the number one junior college running back in the country.


"I was cautiously optimistic before they got there but now, Scottie broke another long run towards the end of practice. We are really really pleased with them," Luke said.

The Armini Linton project at running back took a small setback as he's been dealing with a hamstring injury. But Luke and the staff saw enough of the former defensive back to feel confident about keeping him on the offensive side of the football for the foreseeable future. Linton played running back in high school. While the concept isn't completely foreign, he's using the spring to learn the playbook and various blocking and running reads.


The Rebels return D'Vaughn Pennamon and Eric Swinney at this position, two guys who have game experience and a decent bit of SEC touches. Luke knows what he as in them. He wants to use spring ball to see what guys like Phillips and Isaiah Woullard bring to the table, as well as the newly-transformed Linton.

"They have to keep coming," Luke said. "They've made some mistakes but they keep coming along. Swinney has been solid. He knows what to do. We want to see some of those new guys."

Ole Miss has a number of guys banged up through offseason surgeries and the natural attrition that comes in the football offseason. It's allowing other guys to get more reps in practice as the Rebels attempt to build depth next fall. Tight end Octavious Cooley is a one player who has benefitted from increase practice time with Dawson Knox being sidelined with a foot injury.


"Looks like he has his weight in check and looks like he is in the best shape he has been in since he has been here," Luke said. "That has really helped him become more consistent by not just making one good play, but several in a row. We are really pleased with that."

Luke envisioned possibly playing Cooley and Knox at the same time next season.


"It gives us the flexibility to play some 12 personnel with he and Dawson out there at the same time. It is really exciting to see him playing the way he is," Luke said.

The same is true on the defensive line with Benito Jones and Qaadir Sheppard nursing injuries. None of the injuries will affect guys going into fall camp, so the staff is framing it as a positive in the sense that they can focus on getting younger players ready to contribute next fall.

"It's the same thing with Ross (Donelly) and Sincere (David)," Luke said. "They are getting more reps than they've ever gotten before and it's making them better. It will get us depth when Benito (Jones) and Qaadir (Sheppard) come back. It will just make us better."

Kermit Davis Eager To Lead Ole Miss Hoops

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Kermit Davis walked onto a makeshift stage constructed on the floor of the court he will put a product on next fall as he returned to his home state to be introduced as Ole Miss' next head men's basketball coach.

As Davis took the microphone to address a host of fans sitting in the seats in front of him, he alluded to what he'd like to build this brand into.

"We built a a national brand of basketball at Middle Tennessee State," Davis said. "What is the Ole Miss Basketball brand going to look like? Relentless, athletic and a team that is going to play hard and be tough to beat. We are going to play fast and smart, get easy buckets in transition."

Davis spent 16 years at a mid-major program in Murfreesboro. Admittedly, he didn't go seeking opportunities elsewhere as other jobs came along and then passed by. This one felt right to the 58-year-old Mississippi native.

"We were there for 16 years and really happy there," Davis said. "I was comfortable and thought I might spend the rest of my life there. I always said I would only leave for a prestigious university in the best conference in America."

"As the process went on, I knew this was the place for me. I wanted to align myself with leadership that I trust, aggressive-thinking leadership and leadership that is all-in with Ole Miss Basketball. The infrastructure there and all of the things I feel about coming home to the state of Mississippi and coaching in the SEC. It will all be a perfect fit."

The first step for Davis will be building a roster. In the next couple of weeks, he says he will travel to meet a number of current Ole Miss signees in Serrel Smith and Zach Naylor.


"We have a system of play," Davis said. "It's a system we know how to recruit to meet the needs in order for Ole Miss to be successful in this system. I think with this product to sell, we are going to get new players."

It will also consist of meeting with the current players on the Ole Miss roster and fighting the attrition that naturally comes with the fickle industry that is college basketball. Davis says he feels good about the conversations he has had with the current players, many of whom were in attendance as he was introduced.

"As I went through this process I was only worried about two things, my players at Middle Tennessee and the players at Ole Miss," Davis said. "We have had great positive conversations with all of them and talked about the process. We had a great team meeting. They have all been very receptive and this is just a start. I told those guys I don't come into one team meeting and think I know everybody and can figure everyone out. It's going to be a process. I told them this is natural."

Davis will bring Ronnie Hamilton and Win Case off of his staff at Middle Tennessee and said he will conduct a search for the third assistant while also meeting with the current Ole Miss assistant coaches. He has a $900,000 pool for assistant coaches.

"One thing Ross has done is he has given us the means to go out and hire as good a staff as anyone in the SEC," Davis said. "We are going to do that."


Davis has a record of 403-238 as a head coach. He boasts nine seasons of 24 or more wins and is an eight-time conference coach of the year. All of these were factors that kept Ross Bjork gravitating back to Davis throughout the search process. He morphed a struggling Blue Raider program in a consistent winner and spoke with a sense of eagerness to continue building on what has been started at Ole Miss.


"I am in heaven," Davis said. "We are carrying a big bat into recruiting. I know a lot of people in the SEC carry one too, but we've got an experience we can really, really sell."

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OXFORD, Miss. - A heavy dosage of mid-90s fastballs was the remedy for James McArthur's six innings of two-hit baseball in a 5-0, series-clinching win over Tennessee on Sunday afternoon. The junior right-hander worked both sides of the plate, as well as the top and bottom of the strike zone, keeping the Volunteer offense off balance for the entirety of his outing.

"Filling up the zone with fastballs," McArthur said of his day. "A whole lot of fastballs today, working up in the zone and bringing it back down to the knees when I need to. A lot of fastballs and attacking hitters with them."

McArthur found a rhythm from the first pitch on and really didn't have many stressful innings aside from stranding a pair of runners twice in the first three frames. Tennessee struggled to barrel up the lanky righty's heater and sparsely made hard contact as he worked in enough breaking balls to keep them honest.

"I thought he was terrific," Bianco said. "I think sometimes you can get caught up in the strikeouts because we can strike some people out. He had four today. When you are in the SEC and go six innings without giving up a run and really only a couple hard hit balls, he really controlled both sides of the plate."

Parker Caracci took the baseball from McArthur in the seventh and struck out seven hitters in the final three innings as the two combined for a four-hit shutout. After a six-run seventh inning doomed Ole Miss on Friday night, its pitching staff gave up just one run over its final 20 innings of baseball.

"We knew could pitch," Bianco said. "I am just proud of the way we responded after we gave up eight on Friday. Certainly, that had a lot to do with our fielding and only having one inning in which we couldn't get off the field. To answer after that, to swing it really well and pitch it really well over the last two days and play clean defense says a lot about how we are playing."

McArthur received an early cushion when Jacob Adams demolished a 1-2 fastball inside over the right field fence in Ole Miss' first at bat of the game.

"It's awesome," McArthur said of his early cushion. "First at-bat and you put a run up on the board, you can't ask for much more than that."

Ole Miss hit three home runs on the day, coming from Cole Zabowski in the sixth and a two-run shot off the bat of Thomas Dillard in the eighth to put the game away. Ole Miss scored 18 runs this weekend and Adams was 6-for-10 with five RBI and two runs scored.

"Really just staying agreossive and hunting fastballs and adjusting to the off speed," Adams said. "Just aggressive with my approach."

He has looked sharp at second base. After sitting out of fall practice with a broken foot, Adams thinks he is getting more comfortable at his position.

"I definitely have gotten more comfortable as the season has gone on," Adams said. "Just getting confident with certain plays I have been able to make in practice and carrying it over to the game. I felt pretty comfortable over there."

Adams is hitting .366 with a pair of home runs and now a six-hit weekend in his SEC debut.

"Just a great weekend," Bianco said. "There's a kid who was here this fall but didn't get to play. He kept his head up and when he has gotten his opportunities he has played really well."

The Rebels' other six-hit weekend came in just two games for shortstop Grae Kessinger, who did not play on Sunday due to injury. Anthony Servideo manned shortstop in his place and Adams hit in the leadoff slot. Bianco said there was a chance Kessinger could've played today but elected not to as a precaution. He believes the sophomore will not be out for an extended period of time.

Caracci's dominance allowed Ole Miss to rest veteran closer Dallas Woolfolk this weekend, a guy the team will heavily rely on to get through the grind of an SEC season. This was a good start to the weekend for this team and its confidence. Bianco was happy with how the Rebels responded to a Friday night defeat and was pleased with how Ole Miss played in all three phases after that.

The Rebels return to action on Tuesday morning against New Orleans before hitting the road for a series at Texas A&M next weekend. First pitch on Tuesday is slated for 11 a.m.

Feigl Continues Dominance as Rebels Even Series

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Mike Bianco balked on declaring Brady Feigl's 6.1 inning, nine-strikeout outing on Saturday against Tennessee his best one, but that's mostly because there have been ample to choose from.

The junior right-hander has been consistently dominant sandwiched in the middle of a lethal weekend rotation. He improved to 5-0 on the season by stifling the Volunteers in a 7-1 Ole Miss win, scattering four hits over six-plus innings with his only blemish coming on a first-pitch fastball to Justin Ammons in the sixth.

"It's hard to say it is the best because he has been so, so sharp," Bianco said. "It's hard to be critical of what he just did, locating the fastball on both sides of the plate and to throw all three pitches. Even today he used the change up a bit. I am proud of him. I am proud of this effort."

Feigl fanned nine hitters and walked just one. He's struck out 34 and walked three batters this season, a remarkably consistent pace at this juncture in the season. As Bianco alluded to, he's been able to work his fastball on both sides of the plate and compliment it with a change up. But it has been the slider that has been the catalyst to all of those swings-and-misses.

"I have been able to funnel it in more," Feigl said. "It is playing up my other pitches. With Fortes or Cooper behind the plate, they make them look a lot better back there."

The pitch is one that's always been the wipeout call for Feigl, but also one in the past he has struggled to harness consistent command for. Before the season started he mentioned that pitch as being a large factor in his consistent success. He is in full control of it and is reaping the benefits of its bite.

"The slider is such a swing-and-miss pitch," Bianco said. "I thought at times last year he just couldn't get it in the zone enough. It doesn't make for a bad year. It just makes for him to sometimes to be on his heels. This year it is obviously in the zone a lot more. It has helped his other pitches. It has helped him be more free with his fastball and freedom to use his change up like he did today."

Ole Miss hasn't been punched in the mouth often this year, once in the series opener at Long Beach State and once on Friday night to open this SEC series, but each time Feigl has led the charge in issuing a responding blow. He's connected each time.


"That's why we do it," Feigl said. "That's why we go out there to Long Beach.. The biggest thing is to be able to punch back. It's swing day. It's the offense, the defense and the pitching. We did that today."

There wasn't much stress on his shoulders today due to his brilliance, but the made pitches to get off the field when trouble beckoned. A fastball inside in the sixth inning induced an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to escape a bases loaded no outs jam. A similar situation to what Ole Miss found itself in in the seventh inning of Friday's game. Tennessee was able to get two hits and take control of the game. Today, the Rebels thwarted any momentum it could've gained.

"That's huge," Bianco said. "Those are game winners. You look back at those plays and wonder what a difference that would made. Last night they hit a double in the gap and today they would've been back in it. Those are huge plays."

Feigl jogged off the right side of the mound with a fist pump as demonstrative and precise as his arsenal of pitchers were on this Saturday afternoon.

"Feigl is terrific," Grae Kessinger said. "You know what you're going to get and it is just fun to watch him do his thing."

Kessinger had a three-hit day to bring his hit total to six on the weekend and helped Ole Miss ambush Tennessee starter Garrett Stallings by putting up two runs in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. Jacob Adams roped two extra-base hits down the right field line in the second and fourth innings that produced 3 RBIs and gave Feigl a cushion. Kessinger had two RBIs himself and is now hitting .393 on the season. The Rebels evened the series at one apiece.

James McArthur will go tomorrow in the rubber game at noon.

Experienced Rebels Ready For SEC Play

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The 2017 SEC season brought with it some hard lessons and adverse situations for a young Ole Miss ball club. But this time around, a team that ran through its nonconference slate at 17-1 and has consistently shown signs of being a more mature team is ready for another crack at league play.

"That's one of the things you come to college dreaming of," sophomore left fielder Thomas Dillard said. "The Friday night lights in the SEC with 10,000 people at every game. It is good that it is here. We have had a good start to the season but in SEC play we have to keep ramping it up and coming to the field ready to play every day."

Dillard's hitting at a torrid .350 mark with four long balls and 15 RBI through the first 18 games and is one of the slew of Rebels from last year's core that has taken the next step forward at the plate. Dillard is getting more at-bats from the left side early on and is hitting much better from that side of the plate as a result. He isn't concerned with the imbalance. Last year, he hit .200 average points higher from the right side. Dillard just thinks it is a matter of sample size this year.

"A switch-hitter is two different hitters technically speaking because you are using two different sides of the brain," Dillard said with a grin. "Last year, I think I hit .200 points better right handed and this year I am hitting better from the left side. I am just trying to find a happy medium. I haven't gotten many right-handed at-bats but I know Tennessee is throwing lefty so I just need to go out and compete to help my team win."

He'll get opportunities from the right side when facing Volunteer lefty and Friday night starter Garrett Crochet.

"I think it is sample size," Dillard said. "I have hit a lot of hard balls right at somebody. I think it is sample size and a little unluckiness."

Dillard isn't the only one ready for another go around in the Southeastern Conference. Sophomore shortstop Grae Kessinger--who has compiled a team-leading 24 hits in the leadoff slot--is eager to get back into the heat of SEC competition.

"We've had a good first part of the season, but when this time of the year comes around the feeling in the air gets special," Kessinger said. "We are really ready to get back after it and prove this team is ready to go for SEC play."

Kessinger has benefitted from an aggressive approach in the leadoff slot, hunting for an early fastball to drive. It has proved to be fruitful and equated to him hitting .338 with seven extra-base hits.

"It has just been staying consistent with what I want to do," Kessinger said. "It doesn't matter how one game or one pitch goes, just sticking with my approach and staying true to who you are. I think that has really helped me."

One thing head coach Mike Bianco has been pleased with is his team's response to adverse situations. Its first loss came in the series opener at Long Beach State, and the team has proceeded to rattle off nine consecutive wins since. It escaped a slippery ninth inning on Tuesday at Georgia State, one in which Dallas Woolfolk worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in a 5-3 game.

"We all want it easy," Bianco said. "We all want to win 10-0 or 16-2 as we did the next day, but it is not going to happen. You have to be able to be in those games and you learn a lot about yourself in those games. I am proud of the way we handled it."

Granted, Bianco noted the snafus that led to the tight spot were partially self-inflicted, but the toughness and maturity his team displayed to get out of it and seal a close game was telling to him. Tim Elko made a sharp play on a ground ball to third, and then the Rebels turned a nifty 3-2-3 double play to end the threat and the ballgame.

"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves but the good news is that we were able to handle it," Bianco said. "Dallas handled it on the mound and had two nice plays from Elko and Fortes to finish the game. It is good for you. Those are the things in which you find out what kind of club you are."

Ole Miss is 17-1 and playing good, clean baseball heading into the beginning of the most important portion of the season.

"You have to come ready to play every day," Kessinger said. "It doesn't matter how Friday, Saturday or Sunday goes. All of these teams can beat you on any given day. You have to be mature and take care of your business each day without looking forward or into the past."

Kermit Davis Poised to Lead Ole Miss Hoops

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Ole Miss officially announced the hiring of Kermit Davis to be the school's next head men's basketball coach. Davis arrives in Oxford after serving as the head coach of Middle Tennessee State for the last 16 seasons.

"I'm incredibly honored and excited to be the basketball coach at the University of Mississippi," said Davis. "We are extremely grateful to Chancellor Vitter and Ross for giving me the opportunity to lead such a prestigious program in the best basketball league in America. Coming back to my home state of Mississippi to build a national brand is absolutely a dream come true for us. I am Mississippi Made and cannot wait to join the rest of the Ole Miss family."

Davis is an eight-time coach of the year in three different conferences and guided the Blue Raiders to the NCAA Tournament in 2013, 2016 and 2017 with wins over two-seed Michigan State and five seed Minnesota in back-to-back seasons. Middle Tennessee won its conference seven of the last nine seasons with Davis at the helm.

Davis has helped a total of five programs win conference championships in his 34-year coaching career that has included stops at Idaho and Texas A&M. Davis currently has 403 career wins which ranks 34th among active head coaches.


"After assessing the entire landscape of college basketball and speaking to basketball experts across the country to determine the greatest fit for Ole Miss Basketball, the answer was clear - Kermit Davis is the best coach and best leader to take our program to the next level in the SEC and NCAA," Vice Chancellor for Collegiate Athletics Ross Bjork said in a statement. "Combining his brand of play and his proven ability to build a model basketball program, Coach Davis has established himself as a leader and winner in college basketball. Over the last several weeks, we consistently heard that other coaches `never want to play his team,' and his record confirms that. Coach Davis also possesses a great sense of purpose for his program and does it the right way off the court. During the process, Coach Davis' energy, drive, and vision for our program was unmatched, and we can't wait to welcome him and his family back to the great state of Mississippi and into the Ole Miss family."

Here is some reaction to Ole Miss' hiring of Davis, a Mississippi native returning to his home state.





Rebel Alums: Where are They Now

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In our third installment of Rebel Alums: Where are They Now, we take a look at two-time All-American Bram ten Berge.


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2009 was a banner year for Bram ten Berge capped by winning the Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award as the top male student-athlete in the entire league.

The two-time All-American ended the year ranked No. 3 in the nation in doubles and spent 14 weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation. The All-SEC first team selection and team captain helped the Rebels advance to the NCAA Elite Eight for the ninth time and earn a final national ranking of No. 4. Ten Berge also helped lead the Rebels to the SEC regular season championship with an undefeated league record, their second consecutive SEC Tournament Championship and their eighth straight SEC West title. In addition, he teamed with Jonas Berg to capture the ITA All-American Championship in doubles in the fall of 2008.


In 2008, ten Berge paired with Matthias Wellermann to reach the semifinals at the NCAA Doubles Championships, earning All-America honors. The duo just missed out on making it an all Ole Miss final and assuring the Rebels of the title.


Additional academic honors include an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 2009 and induction into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society in 2008. Ten Berge was also a four-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and the 2006 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's tennis.


Ten Berge graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2009 with a degree in Classics and in December of 2015 earned his PhD. in Classical Studies at the University of Michigan.


He is currently a living in Holland, Michigan and is a professor at Hope College.


Catching up with Bram ten Berge


How often do you play tennis? 

Once a week or so 


What's your best shot?

Volley


What do you do otherwise?

Hike/walk, travel 


Aspirations for the future?

To continue building my career and family, with as many adventures along the way as possible 


Do you still follow the Rebels?

Yes, go Rebs!


What do you miss the most from living in Oxford? 

The friendly people, being part of the team, and the lovely campus and town


Do you keep in touch with the team?

Yes, but it depends on where we live at any particular time (which has been many places in the past 5-6 years) 


Next Oxford visit? 

Hopefully soon!


Spring Practice Rolls On For Ole Miss

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Ole Miss is now knee deep into spring ball and endured its fifth practice on Wednesday afternoon. Head coach Matt Luke says he has been pleased with the development of some the younger players in the early stagesof spring ball.

"The energy has been good," Luke said. "A lot of young guys have gone out there and shown the willingness to take coaching. That is really what I am looking for is to see who will step up. Which one of the young guys is going going to step up and play for us. Who of the older guys are going to step up and lead us? These are the things I am looking for."

The coaching staff has gotten its first glimpse of four-star quarterback Matt Corral over the last week. Luke says he's shown flashes and the talent is definitely there. It is about the consistency that welcome as he gets more acclimated to college football.

"He's been good," Luke said. "Maybe a little inconsistent through four days, but he should be in high school right now, so for him to be out there running the offense with the number two's is great. He has gone out there and made some really good plays and really good throws. A lot of it is installing the offense and there is a learning process there."

Corral has made a couple of complex reads and identified coverages well, which has allowed him to show the strength of his arm.

"The arm is really good," Luke said. "He is really talented. He can make all of the throws and has really good arm strength. It is can he be consistent? He has done well so far."

Defensively, Luke said he has been pleased with the linebackers, arguably the most important position for the Rebels to develop in the spring and into the fall.

"They're eager to learn and I thin they know everyone is watching them and their development. I think they have a chip on their shoulder and I like that about the group right now. They are making process and trying to get each other better," Luke said.

Detric Bing-Dukes and Willie Hibbler have been running with the first team, but the competition has been heating up.

"We need some size in the box," Luke said. "We need to be physical there. There is a lot of competition. Sanogo has been coming on strong. I have been really pleased with him."

The biggest surprise to Luke so far? Running backs Isaiah Woullard and junior college transfer Scottie Phillips.

"To me they have really flashed in the first four days," Luke said. "Those guys have hit a couple creases and have been really impressive."

The team has had the luxury of continuity in the sense that the same coordinators are still here and the same systems are in place. Its made installing packages easier as guys have retained information easier and made things room more smoothly.

"There is a lot of retention," Luke said. "Your day one install is actually probably three days worth of install compared to last spring just because there has been so much carryover. That is a positive."

The Rebels will be off at the end of this week through next week and will return the week after for nine more practices leading into The Grove Bowl.

SIDEBAR: Rebel Bats Bury Governors

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Thomas Dillard demolished a pair of fastballs in the second and third innings of Ole Miss' 11-4 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday night and nearly singled handedly gave Houston Roth a 5-1 run lead by collecting those  four RBIs.

The first of the two shots was a solo job to the left-center gap that got out of the stadium quickly on a low trajectory. The second was a towering club over the railing and well into the student section in right field. He rebounded from an 0-12 weekend by doing damage to Governor Starter Kyle Wilson's line early. 

"It's always nice to bounce back," Dillard said. "You're going to have those weekend sometimes where everything isn't going right for you. You just have to try to focus on the next. Fame and the next pitch to try to help your team out as much as you can."

Dillard was more pleased with the former home run, the shorter one, because of what he tried to improve on in what was a productive offseason for the sophomore outfielder.

"I was a little more proud of the opposite field one because I have been working on that all year," Dillard said. "Hitting it out that way was cool."

Roth waded through the first four inning with relatively little trouble and entered the fifth with a 5-1 lead. Austin Peay strung together four connective two-out hits after a walk and chased Roth from the game after plating three runs. Will Stokes took the baseball from there, escaped a two-on, two-out jam by freezing Malcolm Tripler with a 1-2 breaking ball. He thwarted all Governor momentum and put up two more scoreless frames after that to preserve a one-run lead into the eighth inning.

"Stokes didn't pitch this weekend and I do not know the last time he did not pitch on a weekend," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I knew he could come in and come in early whenever there was a threat. He was as sharp as he has ever been. We needed that."

Ethridge put up another zero in the eighth, setting the table for the offense to blow the game open in the later innings as it seems like has happened quite often this year. Ole Miss hung six runs in the eighth inning to put away the Governors and it came in a variety of different ways. Cole Zabowski started it with an RBI base hit to center field that plated Will Golsan - who had a second consecutive multi-hit game. Chase Cockrell smoked a double down the left field line as part of a 3-3 evening with an RBI. Tyler Keenan then stepped in and launched the Rebels' second three-run homer of the game to open the floodgates. 

"Our pitching is always talked about, and rightfully so because I think we have the best pitching staff in the country," Dillard said. "But our hitting has just been awesome. One through 17 or 18 there is not let up. For us to show up every time through 12 games has been great and I think it is going to continue."

He had a two-hit night as well. Ole Miss' offense has come from all over through 12 games, and on this night hit a lot of balls hard as the wind gushed out to right-center.

"That's kind of been us," Bianco said. "I think that's why we have been so good offensively is that it has come from a lot of different sources. It isn't just one guy that is out of this world with six or seven home runs. It just seems like every night there is a different contributor offensively, and in a big way."

Ole Miss hits the second leg of a five-game homestand on Wednesday against Little Rock. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m.

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

    in post Late Mistake Spoils Chad Kelly's Historic Performance

    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

    in post Heisman House Tour Heads to Oxford for Ole Miss-Georgia

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    in post Madden 17 Ratings for Former Rebels

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    in post Fast Runner From Down Under

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    in post Fast Runner From Down Under