With Ole Miss baseball and Ole Miss softball playing in SEC road series this weekend, many Rebels fans took in the open Ole Miss football spring practice.
We haven’t been hearing much from Ole Miss football with Ole Miss baseball playing really well. And of course there is Ole Miss softball who are playing their hearts out and trying to get back on track. With everything else going on with spring sports and not much football news fans have been getting restless. Naturally with the announcement of an open spring practice many fans took advantage of the opportunity to check out the football Rebels.
Several hundred Rebels fans braved the chilly temps and made their way into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The open practice kicked off at 11am and Ole Miss fans got to see more of the Rebels in action. Of course, the fans were there for a number of reasons. Some wanted a chance to see their favorite players while some wanted to see some of the new players in action. However, there were a number of fans who were also looking for improvements in what were trouble areas last season.
Areas Of Concern
Ole Miss Rebels Football
With everything which happened leading into last season most Rebels fans were happy enough to get thru the season at 6-6. A huge Egg Bowl win over No.14 ranked State College was a nice way to end the season despite not going bowling. However, there were areas of concern which could have been the difference in a 7-5, 8-4 or even 9-3 record. We’ll look at them briefly.
One area which was a huge letdown last season was defense. It was especially noticeable in the linebackers and defensive back positions. Two really good new coaches, Jon Sumrall and Charles Clark, were added to the staff focusing on those positions. Naturally we want to see more from the LB and DB positions. The D-line lost two very good players in Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks so we also want to see who will stepping into those roles. More than anything else many Ole Miss football fans want to see the resurgence of the defense we had just a few years ago.
On the offensive side of the ball we were fairly solid in every area as the season progressed, however the running game could have been better. Of course, we lost Jordan Wilkins and nobody with any really overwhelming numbers behind him to fill the gap. We want to see who is going to step into that feature back role. We also want to see how well the new backs are fitting into the Longo offense. Then there Matt Corral and Demarcus Gregory on the field this spring. We definitely want to see what they bring to the table.
Of course, we also want to see more consistent run and pass blocking from the offensive line. There seemed to be a learning curve with new OL coach Jack Bicknell Jr and the offensive line last season. They did get better as the season progressed and played really well down the stretch. We really want to see them pick up where they left off from last season with more consistency up front. Jordan Ta’amu is an extremely mobile quarterback who can get the offensive line out of a bind with his legs. However, the running backs need good blocking every rushing down.
What Fans Really Saw
If you are a die-hard Ole Miss football fan then you know there has been relatively little news about the Rebels this spring. Of course, there have been a few reports come from several Ole Miss writers but not any real earth-shattering news. Naturally when you don’t hear a lot you are left wanting more so an open practice was an answer for many of us.
Speaking with a few fans who attended the open practice I found most were seeing the same things. Several mentioned the intensity they saw on both sides of the ball but especially the defense. “I believe the defense is improving. They were playing aggressive every snap and swarming around the ball. Their energy is contagious and you can see it in the players!” Jay Pieralisi of Oxford said.
“The offense will be our bread and butter in 2018. ” stated Pieralisi when asked about the offense he watched Saturday. When I asked about the running-back which stood out most, Pieralisi continued, “Eric Swinney is looking really good but we may still be running back by committee until somebody establishes themselves as ‘the guy’.”
So, for the most part Ole Miss football fans are satisfied with what they’ve seen so far, but of course we want to see more. Don’t be down about not hearing more than bits and pieces from Oxford. A year ago during spring practice the college football pundits, and a few who wish they were, couldn’t get our team out of their mouths. Sometimes silence truly is golden. Hotty Toddy!