The Ole Miss Rebels have the one thing every team wants in sports, momentum. They have raised the expectations of Rebel fans very quickly by finishing strong on the field and in recruiting. Hugh Freeze has gone through the entire spring without his starting quarterback Bo Wallace, but that has not slowed down his up tempo offense. The main focus of spring was on the defensive side of the ball and improvement most notably in the secondary. There is no question that the highly rated recruiting class will be expected to contribute right away in the fall.
The offense has been run by Barry Brunetti and Maikhail Miller this spring. Wallace has been there every step of the way getting mental reps and staying involved in the day to day practices. Brunetti who lost the job to Wallace has some experience and mobility is his best asset. Miller, who did go through spring last year and struggled, possesses a big league arm. Both guys have made the most of their opportunity this spring. Jeff Scott is back at running back but expect some young guys like early enrollee Mark Dodson to get their opportunity in the spring game. The offensive line is really banged up and this is where I believe you could see two true freshman line up and play for the Rebels this fall. Austin Golson and Laremy Tunsil should be in the top eight lineman rotation come the fall. Evan Swindall is the rock in the middle and is healthy leading the group. Freeze is looking to feature a tight end more this fall and in the spring early enrollee Christian Morgan has made some plays. He needs a full summer in the weight room to get physically ready for the SEC.
The main focus of the defense has been the secondary and trying to limit the amount of big plays given up. Dave Wommack told me they blitzed at least some pressure (5 man) 40% of the time to try and protect their issues on the back end. Nick Brassell is a definite playmaker at defensive back, if he can get his grades right expect him to start at corner. Charles Sawyer and Senquez Golson are both back and look to put last year behind them. The players mentioned to me that year two in the system will also help. Jason Jones was brought in to coach the corners after spending last season in Stillwater, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. The Rebel linebackers will be as athletic as any group in the league with freshman all American Denzel Nkemdiche back and the return to the field after a two year absence of DT Shackleford. Mike Marry will work the inside giving them three guys that can flat out go sideline to sideline. The defensive front has some work to do as for getting the size you need to win week in and week out. CJ Johnson returns after recording eight tackles for loss last year. Isaac Gross who had a great freshman season will look to strengthen the middle of the defense.
I know Hugh Freeze wants to have a competitive game for the fans, but he will need to make some concessions if it’s going to happen. They have been running the second offensive line with two walk on's and both quarterbacks are still trying to speed up their reads. With all that said I would expect the defense to dominate and give them confidence heading to the summer. There is not much Jeff Scott and Donte Moncrief has to prove in this game or scrimmage, which is why I think offensively you will see some new faces. With the theme being improved defense, I would expect the scrimmage to reflect the success of that unit. DT Shackleford and Nick Brassell will be guys fans need to see on the fly to appreciate the athleticism they bring to the defense. The picture of the 2013 Ole Miss Football team is incomplete at this point due to the fact that Bo Wallace is not on the field or freshman like Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil.