Recapping a tough start to spring practice for Ole Miss


Ole Miss exited 2012 feeling great about their team and future. Hugh Freeze had all the momentum anyone could ever want in college football in his back pocket after his spectacular 2-10 to 7-6 turnaround and signing one of the best recruiting classes in the country. But the offseason and on into spring has been tough thus far.

Shortly after the season, it was announced that Bo Wallace would miss spring practice due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. Wallace was the one player who actually needed spring practice the most, not because he’s a bad player, but because another spring would have been huge for rapport with wide receivers, confidence and a firmer grasp on the offense. Wallace looked so great at times, and other times the offense was a bit of a roller coaster. He finished the season with 2,994 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he also threw 17 picks in 13 games.

Nonetheless, even in Wallace’s absence, it would give an opportunity for backup Barry Brunetti to grow as a passer and signal caller, and perhaps win a starting position. And along with Brunetti, Maikhail Miller would get the reps this spring, but they haven’t exactly seized the reigns of the backup job yet, according to Hugh Freeze via The Clarion Ledger.

“We got to show improvement,” Freeze said after Monday’s practice. “I didn’t think we improved very much from yesterday to today, just watching the film yesterday and seeing this morning’s (practice).

“We don’t go through the progression like you’re supposed to a lot of times and then we’ll have easy throws that we make difficult because of footwork that is bad and a lot of the stuff we do in the run game, they’re not involved in all of it that would really help us get those four yards,” Freeze said. “We got a ways to go at that spot.”

Wallace’s recovery isn’t a given either, and he won’t start throwing until summer in preparation for next season.

This spring should be a crucial time for the development of some talented defensive linemen. And one of those linemen in defensive end CJ Johnson broke his fibula the very first day in pads. Johnson led the Rebels with 6.5 sacks last season, and he’s out for the next three months.

Then, just yesterday, rising senior wide receiver Philander Moore was dismissed from the team following his domestic violence arrest. Here’s the report from The Oxford Eagle:

According to Oxford police chief Joseph East, Oxford Police Department officers responded to a call of a disturbance at the Taylor Bend living complex at approximately 11 p.m. Saturday. Upon arrival, and after interviewing persons involved in the disturbance, Moore was arrested and charged with domestic violence simple assault and taken to the Lafayette County Detention Center.

Moore only caught four passes for 38 yards and one touchdown last season as a receiver, after transferring to Ole Miss from Blinn College where he was a freshman All-American returning kicks. Moore was capable of popping his senior season, because he possessed all the athletic ability and promise.

However, despite a tough start to spring practice, as long as the Rebels continue to stay healthy and continue to develop the 19 returning starters, it bodes well to be a challenger in the SEC West next season. And getting DT Shackelford back will add some depth to both linebacker and defensive end in Johnson’s spring absence.

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports



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