Preseason Report 08.08: Offense Improves

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Ralph Williams caught the eye of Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze in Wednseday morning's practice.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Ralph Williams caught the eye of Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze in Wednseday morning's practice.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Aug. 8, 2012

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OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was pleased with the progress shown by his offense on Wednesday as the Rebels completed the first practice on the team's first two-a-day practice of the 2012 preseason.

The Rebels took to the field shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the first practice of the day to beat the hottest hours of the Mississippi summer. Ole Miss will return to the field later this afternoon for the second practice of the day.

"It was a better day," Freeze said of the first practice. "The defense won the first-and-10 competition, while the offense won the third-and-short competition. That's the way we have to have it with back-and-forth. There was definite improvement offensively. That comes with more reps and getting more comfortable with what we're installing.

"I'm feeling better after this morning's practice, but we have to find consistency where we come to work like that every day," Freeze continued. "I think they got better this morning, though."

One of the areas in which Freeze noticed improvement was along the offensive line, specifically with the performance of Justin Bell, and with a pair of freshman running backs in Jaylen Walton and I'Tavius Mathers.

"(Justin) got better today, I know. Without watching the film, I know I saw some things he did that were a lot more physical. (Jaylen) has been a pleasant surprise. Obviously we had confidence that he could be a good player when we signed him, but he and I'Tavius both bring something to us. Jaylen made a run today on third down where he didn't look like a typical freshman."

Freeze was also pleased with the performance of Ralph Williams along the defensive line in the first practice, as well as the play of freshman Isaac Gross.

"We are just trying to get a little more explosion off the edge," Freeze said of moving Williams from linebacker to defensive end in the morning session. "We're trying to get some of our more athletic guys off the edge. Coach Kiffen really praised him in the defensive meetings this morning.

"Isaac keeps showing up. He's a ball player. You can say what you want about wishing he was a little heavier or all that, but the bottom line is he just keeps showing up and making plays."

The quarterback battle also continued to develop with both Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace continuing to progress as the Rebels work toward the season-opener against Central Arkansas.

"It's still a tight battle and by no means is it over," Freeze said of the quarterback competition.

All Saturday practices are open to the public, including the 9:45 a.m. workout on August 11. All other practices are closed to the public. Meet The Rebels Day activities are set for August 18 at the Indoor Practice Facility.

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