Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
August 3, 2012OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss' skill players frequently repeated the same two messages on Friday: They did all they could over the summer to prepare for the upcoming season. And that wasn't the situation 365 days ago.
With a new coaching staff in place and renewed optimism bouncing around the IPF walls, the Rebels saw a definitely change during offseason workouts. Participation was up. The effort was improved, and there's belief that things are again headed in the correct direction.
The coaching staff is prohibited from attending 7-on-7 drills during the summer. It's up to the players to organize and execute these crucial events, and a few lackadaisical attitudes can derail the process. To a man, the Rebels noticed a difference from 2011.
"The attendance was great," starting running back Jeff Scott said. "Last year guys didn't show up and definitely didn't take it seriously, but this year was much better, and we were on the same page and working toward the same things. I hadn't seen that before.
"It really sticks out how different when you see the energy this summer. We're not there yet, but we're getting there."
Head coach Hugh Freeze said "70-75 percent" of the roster has bought into the new system to this point. Several players pointed out the renewed hope brought on by the coaching staff. The presence of two leaders also improved the atmosphere around the voluntary summer work.
Junior Barry Brunetti and sophomore Bo Wallace are tied at the top of the quarterback depth chart, and the competition has impressed their teammates. Together, the quarterbacks took charge of 7-on-7 practices and set a pace that Freeze would have been happy with had he seen it.
"It was more fast paced," wide receiver Vincent Sanders said. "The quarterbacks had really high tempo and kept us going."
"Both led together," sophomore Donte Moncrief said. "They both showed up every day and competed and did all they could to work toward being the starter. That's what was so good to see. You know they want it and are bringing it each day. They do extra stuff. They do one-on-ones. They're both ready for the fall.
"Everybody was really competing because it's a new staff, and you don't know what's going to happen so everybody was really locked in and ready to go each day. There was a lot of competition and noise from each side, but it was us being together and getting better."
None of the players would declare a favorite, only that both were exhibiting the traits necessary to be a quarterback in the Southeastern Conference. Despite the different skill sets, each has a way to operate the offense.
"No one took over," Scott said. "They've been about even and equal. Both are getting better and giving us energy. I think both will get playing time. Bo Wallace is really accurate and he can actually run, too. Barry isn't the normal quarterback because he's a running back in space. They're different, but we see it as having options."
Freeze said the competition would go into the season, and the starter may depend on how the rest of the offense has progressed. Tailback and offensive line play can have a major impact on which quarterback is best suited for the situation.
"We trust both of them and think we'll catch balls either way," Sanders said.
SCOTT READY TO MENTOR YOUNGER BACKS: Scott's first message for incoming freshmen running backs I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton had nothing to do with carrying a football.
It was advice from personal experience, as the junior has dealt with academic trouble recently but has since worked his way out of trouble.
"The first thing I told them was to jump on academics," Scott said. "You don't want to end up in a situation questioning eligibility. You can't miss games or practices. That's what I stressed. You have the talent and are here for a reason. But you have to take care of those grades. If you don't, it can ruin everything."
Ole Miss NEWS