Preseason Report 08.03: Coordinators Pleased With Progress From Units

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Senior quarterback Bo Wallace has shown the benefits of a healthy offseason early in fall camp.
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace has shown the benefits of a healthy offseason early in fall camp.

Aug. 3, 2014

BLOG: Coordinators Talk Depth, Newcomers

OXFORD, Miss. - On a beautiful, sunny Sunday at the Ole Miss football practice fields, the Rebels had another strong day of work in preparation for the 2014 season.

Speaking after practice, co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner and defensive coordinator Dave Wommack each spoke highly of their units and talked about being ahead of where they have been in years past at this point.

"Everything looks good," Werner said. "We are so far ahead of where we have been the past two years. Obviously, we have so many guys coming back - not just in my position, but everywhere. (Head strength and conditioning coach) Paul Jackson has done a great job of getting them in shape. They're flying around. The weather has been great. We couldn't ask for a better situation."

One such position where Werner and the Rebels have really seen a strong progression in the offseason is at quarterback. With a full spring and summer of health, as well as working out with Jackson and mechanics guru Tom House, senior Bo Wallace is getting more zip in his passes, and the results have stood out.

"It's like two different players," said Werner of Wallace this year compared to last year. "He's so far ahead. The key is making it all the way through the season. Last year at this time he was barely coming off rehab. Now, he's not only done with all that, he's worked it to get his normal strength, and maybe even then some. He's gained some weight, gotten bigger and he's excited. He can't wait for the season."

A new player to the Ole Miss roster this season who Wallace will enjoy throwing to and has drawn a lot of attention from Rebel Nation, in addition to the coaching staff, has been sophomore Jeremy Liggins, who is listed as an athlete but will begin the year at tight end.

"He can be a really good player at that position," said Werner of the junior college transfer. "He's got good hands, he's really physical, he's ridiculously athletic for being a 290-pound guy, or whatever he is. Now the key is learning the position.

"That position is sort of a hybrid for us, but yeah, he's definitely a natural. You tell him to block somebody and normally it takes weeks to figure out where to place your hands and all that, and he just gets right into them. He's so strong, so physical and so athletic to be able to catch the ball too."

On the defensive side of the ball, Wommack spoke of the depth and the talent level Ole Miss possesses this season, saying they both are much better than they have ever been. Wommack, who is entering his 35th year as a college coach, said the defense is buying in and is hungry to do something special.

"They seem to all be on the same page," Wommack said. "They care about each other and they're playing for each other, so that's a good thing."

Freshman linebacker DeMarquis Gates, who hails from Hampton, Georgia, has stood out in his eyes more than anyone else in the 2014 class.

"He can run, he's physical, he's tough and he's smart," said Wommack of the 6-foot-2, 211-pound rookie. "He didn't play last year (due to a torn ACL). I really wasn't expecting what we were getting out of him. From really the first practice, he has - and a lot of them have - each and every day shown up. That's a good thing for us."

Wommack said shoring up the defensive end position from last year was a huge item for them in the offseason. With junior C.J. Johnson back healthy, and the additions of sophomore transfer Fadol Brown and freshman Marquis Haynes, Wommack feels they've done that.

Speaking about Johnson and Haynes, Wommack talked about how nice it is to have them face sophomore All-Southeastern Conference tackle Laremy Tunsil in practice.

"(Laremy) may be as good as there is in the country," Wommack said. "Those guys battle back and forth so they just get better each and every day."

Fans may attend the team's practice, weather permitting, on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 9:45 a.m., in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. That will be the only fall practice open to the public.

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