Defense Rules Tuesday Practice Session

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Randall Mackey (photo by Joshua McCoy)
Randall Mackey (photo by Joshua McCoy)

April 10, 2012

OXFORD, Miss. - On a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon in Oxford, the Rebels' defense was setting the tone during the Ole Miss football team's two-hour practice session on the practice fields adjacent to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"I love what (defensive coordinator) Dave (Wommack) and his staff are doing over there," said head coach Hugh Freeze, who calls himself an offensive guy. "I do believe that in this league a great defense gives you more opportunities to score. I know you have to play great defense, and I'm pleased with where they are today. They disguise things very well. They're coming from a lot of different places, and our O-line was struggling to pick it up."

Freeze was less pleased with the Rebels' offense, which he said took a step back on Tuesday.

"It was a total step back offensively," Freeze said. "It seems like every time we try to install something new, we get that. We can't get snaps correct. We didn't play physical up front. The quarterbacks didn't play well. Not a good day."

He said the coaching staff will not install any new offensive plays, choosing to spend the remainder of the spring improving the parts of the playbook that have already been installed.

Senior Randall Mackey, who started six games at quarterback last year, spent some time at receiver on Tuesday. Freeze said the coaches are planning to use Mackey at quarterback, receiver and running back in 2012.

"We're just trying to make sure we use him somehow," Freeze said. "Randall and I are very open and honest about the issues that we're facing. Provided that he can get them straightened out, we're going to find a place to use him. So we want to kind of experiment with him these last two weeks (of spring practice)."

"He caught it and he was smooth," said Freeze of how Mackey looked in his first reps at receiver. "He's swimming right now just trying to learn how to line up, but it looked like he could run around and catch footballs, and we've seen what he can do running with it in his hands."

When asked who was ahead in the quarterback race between Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace, Freeze answered, "before today I would have said Brunetti was a little ahead. Today I don't know. I'll have to watch the film. I don't think either one of them set the woods on fire. To kind of develop who would be in the lead going into fall camp, these next two Saturdays will be big."

Sophomore defensive end C.J. Johnson was back at practice Tuesday after recovering from a mild concussion.

The Rebels return to the practice fields on Thursday. That session will not be open to the public, but the team will hold an open scrimmage in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m.

For an updated schedule of practice times and locations, please refer to the 2012 Spring Practice Schedule button located in the left side of the football home page. All information is tentative and subject to change.

Spring drills will culminate with the annual BancorpSouth Grove Bowl, Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. CSS will televise the intra-squad scrimmage live.

Other events of Grove Bowl Week are the Rebels' Choice Awards on Monday, April 16; the Chucky Mullins Award Banquet on Thursday, April 19; a free concert in The Grove with Gavin DeGraw and special guest Craig Morgan on Friday, April 20 and a weekend baseball series against Arkansas.

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