Offense stands out in return from break

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Ole Miss football team returned to the practice field Monday after a week off for spring break, and the rest seemed to do the Rebels’ offense some good.

Head coach Hugh Freeze constantly praised the defense through Ole Miss’ first six practices of the spring, but it was the offense that won the day during a two-hour workout inside the Manning Center late Monday afternoon in what Freeze said continues to be a “back-and-forth spring.”

The first two (practices) were non-pads,” Freeze said. “We didn’t have any competitions then, but since then it’s been about even. Before we broke for spring, it was a dominant practice by the defense. Today was a dominant practice by the offense.”

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The third-down period toward the end of the practice was the only one where the defense had the upper hand, Freeze said. Though he’d like to see more consistency on both sides, Freeze said he’s not necessarily surprised with the advantage changing sides of the ball from one day to the next.

“Coaches planning for success some,” Freeze said. “No one likes to get it handed to them. There was no doubt when we left for spring break, the offensive coaches felt like it was a non-competitive practice in a lot of situations. I think they spent a lot of time today making sure we were going to get things called that we wanted to get called, some of it. You get momentum going.

“Some of it’s us being young at some places, and you’re still installing some stuff. A lot of it is us paying attention to what we want to call in certain things.”

Mixing it up

Quarterbacks Chad Kelly, Jason Pellerin and Shea Patterson spent a few minutes during practice going through footworks drills with the running backs led by running backs coach Derrick Nix.

It’s an extended version of a drill the position groups combine to do during the fall with the drill primarily aimed to help the young signal callers whose footwork is rougher around the edges. But it also helps with timing, Freeze said.

“And we had a center there, and that just gives us a real picture of the exact timing of what we want the footwork to be like and what we want the play fakes to be like off of it,” Freeze said.

Stringfellow progressing

Rising junior receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow has been held out of practices with a sprained foot, though he’s getting closer to returning.

Stringfellow was in a walking boot in both practices open to the media before the team split for spring break, but the boot was gone Monday. Coaches and trainers want to make sure Stringfellow is fully healthy before putting him back on the field.

“He has the boot off and he’s moving around,” Freeze said. “(Head athletic trainer) Pat (Jernigan) said he wasn’t ready to go today. That’s all I know. It’s kind of a weird sprain. They used the term for it, but it’s got a little blood in the bone and they just want to get it all out before he can go. No question he’s feeling a lot better.”

Extra Points

Through seven practices, Freeze mentioned redshirt freshman offensive tackle Alex Givens, defensive end Marquis Haynes, defensive tackle D.J. Jones, freshman safety Myles Hartsfield, redshirt freshman receiver Van Jefferson and redshirt freshman running back Eric Swinney as players who have consistently practiced well. Of Jefferson, Freeze said, “Van shows up every practice. He’s looked really good.” … Freeze and a number of players spent their week off in Haiti for the third straight year, finishing up a water project in the village of Camp Marie as part of a mission trip Freeze said “never disappoints in the realm of making you grateful and thankful for what we have here.”