Preseason Report 08.07: Ole Miss to Open Practice Saturday

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM The Rebels will hold an open practice at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday at 9:45 a.m.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
The Rebels will hold an open practice at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday at 9:45 a.m.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Aug. 7, 2014

BLOG: Center, Right Tackle Position Battles to Watch | Photo Gallery

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss football team will hold its only open practice of fall camp Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Suggested parking locations for fans include the lots surrounding the north and east sides of the stadium, as well as the parking lot behind the Ole Miss Track and Field Complex off Manning Way. Gates 13-16 on the northeast side of the stadium will be open for fans to enter through.

Fans will be allowed to sit on the east side of the stadium, and restrooms along the lower east side of the stadium will be available. If practice has to be moved inside due to weather it will be closed to the public.

On yet another beautiful, sunny Thursday morning on the Ole Miss football practice fields, the Rebels put in more hard work in preparation for the upcoming season, their third under the leadership of head coach Hugh Freeze.

“We had another beautiful day, nice breeze, but unfortunately we just tried to endure it instead of embrace the day,” Freeze said. “I know it’s practice seven and eight today, but if we want to go from good to great we have to embrace each day and certainly give great effort. There were some good things, it wasn’t all bad, but the way we finished practice was certainly like we were trying to get through it instead of embrace it. We’ll get back after it tonight in our first two-a-day. The leadership in our locker room, I’ve said all along, how far we go will largely depend on that. We’ll challenge them to get back out and I know they’ll respond.”

Among those leaders Freeze singled out were C.J. Johnson, Cody Prewitt, Deterrian Shackelford, Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil and Bo Wallace.

“We have some good ones, they just haven’t been thrust in that role a lot with the exception of maybe (Deterrian),” Freeze said. “At the end of the day, each kid has to be responsible, each coach has to be responsible and each manager has to be responsible for the effort they give. You can’t be perfect in all your things, but you can have perfect effort and that’s what we’re trying to get accomplished right now.”

Much of the talk during the preseason has centered, no pun intended, on the offensive line, its depth, and who fits in where. At center, sophomore Robert Conyers and junior Ben Still are battling in camp for starting responsibilities following the graduation of Evan Swindall from a year ago.

“I’m pleased with Ben and Robert,” Freeze said. “When you’re blocking some of the guys we’re blocking – Robert (Nkemdiche) is a tough block. … But mentally they pick it up very well. I’ve been pleased with the snaps. We’ve had very few that have thrown our timing off. The effort those two guys give. They fit with us. We’re going to be OK there.”

Freeze also talked Thursday about the right tackle position, where four different players, including Conyers, are neck and neck in hopes of replacing Pierce Burton, who graduated following the 2013 campaign.

“Fahn (Cooper) has definitely come on the last few days,” Freeze said. “Robert (Conyers) is getting reps over there, as is (Craig) Frigo and Rod Taylor. We’re kind of doing that by committee, but it looks like Fahn is kind of emerging. Robert looked good there too. Fahn is coming on now that he has a better understanding.”

Similar to the offensive line, the Rebels have more position battles going on in their special teams unit, specifically at punter and PAT/field goals.

“(Will) Gleeson is in the lead punting, but Gary (Wunderlich) can really hit it now,” Freeze said. “Gary has a strong leg, but Gleeson gives us some options where we can do some out-of-the-box stuff in punting. PAT/field goals, we’re charting them and they’re all about even – Gary, (Andrew) Fletcher and Andy (Pappanastos). I love the height Gary and Andy are getting on theirs. That one is going to be a good battle. Nathan (Noble) is going to handle the kickoffs it looks like, but Gary can do that also.”

For all Ole Miss Football news and information, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissFB, and on Facebook (Facebook.com/OleMissFootball), in addition to OleMissSports.com.

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