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The SEC Spring Football Media Teleconference was held today with the Western Division coaches assessing their teams’ spring performance and taking questions from the media.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze commented on the Rebels’ spring practices, addressed the quarterback battle and provided updates on player injuries. “We’re optimistic about the returners we have and the work we got done in spring,” he said. Though he wishes the offensive line would have been healthier, Freeze indicated he is confident the team improved over the course of the 15 spring practices.
Freeze talked about his wide receivers, first and foremost being the status of Laquon Treadwell.
When asked if Treadwell, who many project to be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, will face contact in fall camp, Freeze replied: “Yes. It won’t be every day. It will certainly be guarded. But he’s got to get back to feeling comfortable playing in this league and how physical it is. He should be full speed when camp starts.”
Coach Freeze is pleased with the other receivers he has challenging for the number two spot. “We’ve got really good possibilities in Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo and Derrick Jones and Damore’ea Stringfellow,” he said. “Those guys are all talented. I think some have to pick it up a bit in being more consistent in their work ethic.”
“I’m real comfortable with Cody Core knowing every spot that he plays,” Freeze said. “He was a solid performer last year and will push hard to be that number two guy. Derrick Jones had the best spring of anyone. He’s a long, fast kid who has come a long way.”
Freeze said junior college transfer Chad Kelly is “actually a little ahead” of where the coach thought he would be at quarterback going into the spring. “I was impressed with his football IQ and the way he came in and studies things,” Freeze added. “He picked up things nicely and had really good practices.”
Freeze wants a quarterback who understands what the staff wants him to do–and who will run the team and put points on the board. “I don’t think that will be decided until well into fall camp,” he noted. The bottom line, he said, is: “Whoever is most consistent is probably going to be the guy.”
Freeze will also keep an eye on how the quarterbacks handle their time off over the coming weeks and will look at their decision-making off the field. He will watch to see how the team rallies around each of the quarterbacks in terms of summer practices and drills.
Coach Freeze mentioned the difficulties in evaluating the running back spot in spring drills due to all the injuries to the offensive line–and given the strength of the defensive line.
“Jaylen (Walton) has played a lot of snaps for us. He’ll be our starter,” Freeze said of the senior from Memphis.
Freeze noted that both Jordan Wilkins and Akeem Judd had a good spring, and added that sophomore Eugene Brazley ran one of the fastest 40-yard times they’ve had. He is also excited about Eric Swinney coming in.
With the number of injuries to the offensive line, it is a bit difficult to keep track of everyone’s progress. Coach Freeze gave the media the latest updates on his players’ physical progress, and they are as follows:
Freeze said left tackle Laremy Tunsil ran for the first time Monday. “I got a video from our training staff,” he said. “The doctors feel everything is healing nicely.”
Freeze reported that Sean Rawlings will be released in a week from his broken bone.
Daronte Bouldin has been released from his shoulder surgery.
Freeze said Aaron Morris “still has about another month before they will let him run and cut on his knee.”
Conyers had his second knee surgery to fix a meniscus tear, but is “expected to be back within the month,” according to Freeze.
Freeze said sophomore Davion Johnson “probably is not going to play football again. We’re in the middle of applying for a medical for him.” Johnson has suffered several concussions in his career.
In a league as tough as the SEC, one play—the injury to Laquon Treadwell in the Auburn game—literally may have changed the fortune between a good season and a great one. As Freeze said, “The margin between winning and losing is so small in this league.”
When he looks back on that injury, the Ole Miss head coach said he had “never been a part of that kind of gut-wrenching end to a game.”
Even though he thought that injury likely had an effect on the team’s performance the following week, Freeze also said he thinks his team does a great job of taking the attitude of the coaches, which is: “never make too much of a win or too much of a loss.”
Ole Miss opens the season September 5, 2015 against Tennessee-Martin in Oxford.