Preseason Report 08.08: Ole Miss Holds Second Fall Practice
Aug. 8, 2016

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BLOG: Practice Observations

OXFORD, Miss. - After such a long wait, Ole Miss finally opened training camp for the 2016 season looking to build upon last season’s Sugar Bowl victory. Monday marked the second day of camp as well as media day for the Ole Miss football program.

“It's good to get back in camp,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Listening to our strength coaches talk about the offseason, I was extremely pleased, and I like the look of our team. Obviously haven't put pads on yet, but they seem to have a great spirit about them and want to compete.”

The Rebels will remain in jerseys and helmets before padding out on Thursday, but Freeze has liked what he has seen through the first two days.

“It's been a good two days. We look forward to getting media days done and really locking in for two weeks with our team and hopefully building chemistry,” Freeze said. “I really believe that one of the differences in this conference between winning close games and losing them, besides breaks that sometimes happen, is the chemistry that's formed in that locker room.”

The practices are split off for about 40 minutes where the younger guys can compete against themselves and receive coaching from the staff. Ole Miss brought in the highest ranked recruiting class in school history in 2016 and that talent is apparent.

“We've had some good classes, but I really think from top to bottom this '16 class looks, after two days, for whatever that's worth. I haven't been disappointed.”

Of course, Ole Miss has a host of talented returns as well. Most notable of them all is SEC preseason first-team QB Chad Kelly. The Sugar Bowl MVP has picked up in 2016 right where he left off in 2015.

“He's hungry. He's determined. Today in practice I thought he was very, very sharp, a little like he did at the end of the season last year,” Freeze said. “In our skeleton drill, he completed the first 12 of 12 throws and was really, really sharp and the ball was going to the right place. He's getting the protections set right. He’s looked really good.”

Redshirt-freshman Alex Givens, junior Rod Taylor and freshman Greg Little are competing to protect Kelly’s blindside at left tackle.

“I don't get hung up on who's the starter in game one,” Freeze said. “I just want kids that are ready to compete and have a knowledge of what we're doing, and I'm confident that (offensive line coach) Matt (Luke) will get them there.”

Things have to get serious quickly for Ole Miss with Florida State awaiting in less than a month to open the season.

“I've never been on a staff that faced a September quite like what we're facing. It's not hard to motivate our kids. They understand what's in front of them, so that's a positive.”

Notes from Freeze’s Press Conference
-Tony Conner won’t be overly taxed in the preseason since he already is comfortable in the defense. Freeze said Conner caught his eye a few times in drills being back to his normal self.
-Fadol Brown removed the walking boot today. He’s still progressing from a foot injury. Brown would be invaluable to have back to face Dalvin Cook and Florida State’s OL.
-Freeze said that A.J. Brown compared favorably to Laquon Treadwell at the same point as a freshman.
-Rommel Mageo has been quick to pick up the defense from the LB position. He will be extremely important in solidifying that position.
-Freeze said Van Jefferson was the best route-runner on the team and as good at getting separation as any WR he’s coached here.

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