The Ole Miss offense and defense are headed on the right track after the Rebels’ first scrimmage of spring practice Saturday inside the friendly confines of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The offense made explosive plays, the defense had some key takeaways and head coach Hugh Freeze was left feeling optimistic about the performance and effort the football squad has delivered through seven spring practices.
“I always want to watch the film first, but I still thought energy and effort was good,” Freeze said. “I thought the execution had a lot of issues, but when you’re playing so many kids, it’s hard for a lot of them to have it figured out when you’re getting different looks and things are happening at a rapid pace. I thought there were a lot of things for us to build on.”
The biggest plays of the day included touchdown passes from senior quarterback Bo Wallace to sophomore tight end Evan Engram, sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and sophomore wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo. Redshirt freshman quarterback DeVante Kincade also threw a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Cody Core.
Who will back up Bo Wallace at quarterback circulated as one of the biggest questions for the Rebels heading into spring practice.
Kincade and redshirt freshman Ryan Buchanan have received the majority of second-team snaps, but freshman Kendrick Doss and sophomore Jeremy Liggins have also received looks.
“I thought there were some bright spots today at times,” Freeze said. “Now, there were some that were not so bright where they got in a hurry, and their mechanics get bad, and the ball is in a bad spot. I thought there were some decent things for the first scrimmage.”
Due to the running ability of Doss and Liggins, the coaches put them in normal red jerseys instead of the non-contact green jerseys that the rest of the quarterbacks wear.
Freeze said Kincade and Buchanan have yet to separate themselves from each other. He plans to use the final two scrimmages of the spring to largely determine their rank on the depth chart rather than day-to-day practices.
“This (scrimmage) has to weigh more,” Freeze said. “For me, it does anyway just because it’s live, and you’re seeing a lot of looks, and it’s going through your head, and it’s a little faster than in practice.”
The defense has been focusing on familiarizing the younger players with the scheme and on improving depth.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said they still have about half of the defensive scheme left to install.
“The ones who have played a lot in it are doing great,” Wommack said. “We’re trying to show the new guys. We just have to go slower. There’s no reason to run before you can walk. Some of their heads are spinning, but we’re right where we need to be.”
Ole Miss has eight more practices in spring ball, which will conclude with the annual Regions Bank Grove Bowl at noon April 5 in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
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— David Collier