OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss got down to business Monday as the Rebels held their first full practice in full pads. Energy, enthusiasm and vocal leadership were on display on both sides of the ball.
Defensive news and notes
During Monday’s practice, safety Myles Hartsfield had one pass break-up in the back of the end zone, while cornerbacks Jalen Julius and D.D. Bowie notched one pass break-up apiece.
Because Hartsfield and Julius have impressed Luke at cornerback, the Rebels’ head coach says he has been practicing Kendarius Webster at safety, rather than at corner where he has spent most of his time in the past. Luke said he believes Webster can play 10 to 15 yards off the football in front of the line of scrimmage.
Sophomore Jarrion Street played safety last season; however, heading into 2017 he has moved to linebacker—with Luke saying he has “really, really flashed.”
The Rebels’ trio of true freshmen linebackers — Mohamed Sanogo, Zikerrion Baker and Josh Clarke — got a lot of time on the field Monday.
Further, with the suspension of Detric Bing-Dukes for one game, redshirt freshman Donta Evans is taking advantage of his increased time on the field.
Junior defensive tackle Breeland Speaks practiced with the second team Monday, while sophomore Josiah Coatney practiced with the first team. Coach Luke mentioned he’s trying to create competition and depth. “We need them all,” he said about the defensive front.
“With a defensive line, you’ve got to have a rotation. I think Coach (Freddie) Roach does a great job keeping those guys motivated. I feel like Breeland might have had his best day, just running around out there making plays.”
Offensive news and notes
On the offensive side, sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson completed two deep passes to DaMarkus Lodge in one-on-one coverage. Patterson also found sophomore receiver A.J. Brown on a couple of nice slant routes during a passing drill.
Running backs coach Derrick Nix utilized his depth of backs in the offense as Eric Swinney, Jordan Wilkins, D’Vaughn Pennamon and Eugene Brazley all got reps.
Coach Luke mentioned Wilkins, Brazley and Swinney, specifically, as players who have stood out so far in fall camp.
“We’re looking at three, probably four,” Luke said when asked about the number of running backs he may use in the offense. “We’re going to stick with the hot hand.
“You can never have enough running backs. They are going to get dinged up. They are going to twist an ankle. They are going to get a concussion. You have to be deep at running back, so we’re fortunate to have guys that can do it.”
Wilkins appeared to suffer an injury Monday, limping off the field during practice. Afterward, Luke said: “I just saw how he limped off, just kind of landed wrong or something. So I will check with him. I don’t know exactly but I will check when we finish here.”
It is not thought that Wilkins’ injury is serious.
Sophomore tight end Dawson Knox has been working out with the first team. Luke has been impressed with Knox’s physicality so far in fall camp, and he hopes to use him as a blocker and put him on the ball to isolate some linebackers.
Offensive line notes
Luke mentioned there’s a lot of competition going on, especially on the offensive line at the guard and center positions. Daronte Bouldin and Jordan Sims are battling at the right guard spot.
“Everyone is just competing. But in the end, we’re going to need them all. So I think finding the best combination and how we’re going to utilize seven or eight guys upfront will be important.”
Matt Luke on the depth on the offensive line
Coach Luke speaks after practice
The Rebels have a mandatory day off Tuesday, before returning to practice on Wednesday.
(Feature image credit: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss Athletics)