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Observations from practice as fall camp winds down for Rebels

Observations from practice as fall camp winds down for Rebels

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss football fall camp is winding down, with the Rebels holding a scrimmage Saturday and a practice on Sunday that will conclude fall training. The team is off next Monday and will then resume a regular practice schedule on Tuesday.

Saturday’s scrimmage was closed to media, but here are our observations from Friday’s practice:

Players who returned from injury on Friday:

Left tackle Greg Little (concussion),
Running back Jordan Wilkins (knee),
Defensive back Myles Hartsfield
Cornerback Jalen Julius
Tight end Octavious Cooley (non-injury related)
Tight end Ty Quick (concussion) practiced with the team Friday in the no-pad drills.
Defensive back D.D. Bowie (concussion) dressed out for Friday’s practice but did not participate in drills.

Wilkins spoke with reporters following Friday’s practice and talked about his recovery from a recent knee injury, as well as what he expects from the Rebels’ running back corps this season.

Rebels not practicing Friday:

Chandler Tuitt (concussion),
Tight end Jacob Mathis (foot)
Running back Eric Swinney
Defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (injury)
Defensive tackle Benito Jones (concussion protocol),
Guard Jordan Sims (ankle)
Defensive end Qaadir Sheppard (worked out on exercise bike)
Running back D.K. Buford (worked out on exercise bike)
Defensive tackle Herbert Moore (worked out on exercise bike)
Safety Ty Rocconi (worked out on exercise bike)
Tight end Dawson Knox

Coach Nix assesses the running backs

Eugene Brazley with the carry during the Rebels’ fall camp. (Photo credit: Josh McCoy)

Although first-team running back Jordan Wilkins has just returned to practice after recovering from a minor injury, and Eric Swinney is currently day-to-day with an apparent head injury, running backs coach Derrick Nix is not alarmed as the Rebels are deeper at this position than in years past.

Nix, who said he doesn’t have a clear-cut number two on the depth chart behind Wilkins, has confidence in each of his top four backs.

Nix mentioned his top four (not in any order) include: Wilkins, Eugene Brazley, D’Vaughn Pennamon, and, with Swinney out, D.K. Buford, whom he refers to as “Mr. Consistent” because of his hard work during camp.

I trust them assignment-wise, ability-wise. I think the guys have proven in different scenarios that they can take care of the football, protect the quarterback…I’m really pleased with all of them right now.

Ole Miss running backs coach Derrick Nix

Coach Roach pleased with Rebels’ defensive line

Though some of his players have missed time due to injury, defensive line coach Freddie Roach thinks the Ole Miss D-line is in good shape with the season beginning soon. His focus since spring ball and throughout fall camp has been on stopping the run more than on the pass rush.

“I tell them all the time, ‘We can work on pass rush all day, but if we can’t stop the run, no one is going to throw the ball,'” Roach said.

We have to play first and second down to earn the right to be a pass rusher. We have got to have a good run defense. If you look at championship-caliber teams, they stop the run. And when we can do that, then we will take the next step for the pass rush stuff.

Defensive Line coach Freddie Roach

News and notes:

  • Ken Webster, who missed all of last season due to injury suffered in the Rebels’ season-opener against Florida State, has begun to work out some at cornerback. At the beginning of fall camp, Webster was spending more time at safety.
  • Tight end Dawson Knox has a foot injury and did not practice Friday. His status is unclear at this time.
  • With Knox’s status uncertain at the moment, sophomore right tackle Michael Howard has moved to tight end. Redshirt freshman Bryce Mathews will now work out with the second team in Howard’s spot.

(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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