Preseason Report 08.23: Rebels Focusing on Communication and Consistency
Aug. 23, 2016

By Dylan Edwards,

OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss scrimmaged on Sunday, and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze believes it showed areas where the Rebels can improve over the next two weeks before the anticipated showdown with Florida State.

“There were too many penalties and too many missed assignments. The great thing is we still have two weeks to correct the mistakes we made.” Freeze said. “I love the things I’m seeing from the leadership of our team to the attitude of our team … The attitude is great. Our team wants to be a team that is connected. I love the energy I feel.”

The Rebels are counting on a number of young players in the defensive secondary this season. The talent is there, but young players are prone to mental mistakes that Ole Miss cannot afford.

“I forget how young we are sometimes,” Freeze said. “We’re playing a lot of young kids on the backend of our defense right now. They have potential to be very good, but they are young. You make one mistake against a team like the ones we have to play early on, it can be costly.”

Ole Miss will rely on veterans like senior Tony Conner to help keep those younger players on the same page by constantly communicating.

“Coach Freeze is always talking about communication,” Conner said. “If we get out there and don’t communicate at all, we really won’t get anything done. When we go out there and talk, we do everything the right way then. When we don’t communicate, that’s when we give up the big, explosive plays.”

Conner’s experience and leadership is a welcomed return for Ole Miss’ defense, and the Batesville, Mississippi, native is just as excited to be back on the field.

“Every time the ones go in, I’m right there with them. It feels great,” Conner said. “Coming from last year with the injury and sitting home watching my brothers play, it hurt. It’s a great feeling being back out there with those guys.”

-Rod Taylor is the leader at left tackle with Greg Little working with the twos.
-Tony Conner said he’s at 90 percent and getting comfortable playing in a knee brace. He’s pain-free.
-Deontay Anderson suffered a fracture in his wrist in the scrimmage on Sunday. He may have to play in a cast but shouldn’t miss any time.
-Jack DeFoor underwent shoulder surgery and will redshirt.

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