Ole Miss Concludes the Spring with Final Practice
April 9, 2016
OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss wrapped up spring football with a final practice on Saturday in the Manning Center. With Vaught-Hemingway Stadium under renovations, the final practice and scrimmage came in lieu of a spring game.
“A lot of work got done that was good this spring,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “I loved our energy and our attitude and our teaching session on uncommon men. We all have to make that a priority that that’s what we want to be in life, whether it’s sports or not.”
The scrimmage saw the Ole Miss defense limit the offense’s ability to get into much of a rhythm. However, the offense was able to hit some big plays to move the ball.
“There were some good things obviously,” Freeze said. “I thought our defense stopped the run very well. They gave up too many explosive plays, particularly on third down. Offensively, we didn’t win first down and never got into tempo really, but had some really good explosive plays.”
With All-SEC quarterback Chad Kelly missing the final week of practice due to a sports hernia surgery, freshmen quarterbacks Shea Patterson and Jason Pellerin took turns leading the offense. Patterson’s progression through spring drills was especially impressive.
“I really thought Shea, from week two to the end, really started picking things up,” Freeze said. “He has a really good football IQ and understanding of what we’re trying to do.”
Another player in particular that made the most of his spring was redshirt freshman receiver Van Jefferson. Jefferson won the Eli Manning Award for most improved offensive player during the spring.
“I thought he just had a really solid spring,” Freeze said. “Van is wired a little differently. He really understands what to do with the time he has and work. He really stood out.”
A unit as a whole that stood out was the defensive line, as Freeze mentioned D.J. Jones, Breeland Speaks and Marquis Haynes as players that had a good, consistent spring.
“As a unit, we’ve been working,” D.J. Jones said. “When the season comes, we have to be the one to make plays. Right now, that praise doesn’t mean anything if come fall we don’t do it.”
An offensive line that is still working on meshing together was tasked with the assignment of blocking that talented defensive line. The o-line was working a little shorthanded all spring without Robert Conyers and Rod Taylor while also replacing five key players from last year’s group.
“We’ve made progress this spring,” Sean Rawlings said. “It’s not where it needs to be, obviously. It never is in the spring. We can continue to make progress and continue to develop as leaders. We can work together more and communicate to make each other better.”
Like every team around the country, Ole Miss was practicing without some players during the spring that will play a large role come fall.
“We missed some kids. I wished we would have had Issac Gross, Tony Conner, Fadol Brown, Robert Conyers, Rod Taylor, Chad Kelly and some of those others to get the reps, but we didn’t,” Freeze said. “The ones we had out there I know got better.”
Ole Miss opens its 2016 football season in Orlando Florida, against Florida State on September 5.
Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter at @OleMissFB, as well as Facebook and Instagram. For more information, visit www.OleMissSports.com.
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