Freeze pleased with Ole Miss’ spring effort and Grove Bowl

NCAA Football: Compass Bowl-Pittsburgh vs Mississippi

Ole Miss capped off spring practice with Saturday’s Grove Bowl, which was more of a glorified scrimmage than a spring game. The game pitted offense vs. defense with a modified scoring system. The ones played the ones; the twos played the twos. That’s how it should be.

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The 90-minute scrimmage was ultimately won by the offense 15-12.

Running back I’Tavius Mathers stole the day’s biggest highlight on a 96-yard run after he took the handoff at the one yard-line and housed it. Mark Dodson also added an impressive 45-yard run right into the teeth of the defense.

Much of the focus was on the backup quarterbacks DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan, with a little 300-pound Jeremy Liggins sprinkled in. Buchanan was the sharper of the two, going 6-10 for 100 yards, and showing great pocket presence and awareness, while Kincade finished 5-8 for 57 yards and one touchdown. He also added 38 yards rushing, and it’s easy to see why he has the coaching staff’s attention and should be a valuable player this season: he has a strong arm and can be explosive in the running game. Jeremy Liggins added a one-yard rushing touchdown.

Safety Cody Prewitt did Cody Prewitt things, making 10 tackles and forcing two fumbles. The kid is a ballhawk, and he’s ready for a huge senior year.

Effort is what stood out to Freeze all practice, and he commended his team after the game.

“I’ve obviously coached a lot of spring practices, and I can’t remember one being better in the area of effort,” Freeze said. “There are obviously a lot of things we can clean up, but I certainly believe that we got the most effort out of the young men that we put on the practice field for 15 days. It was extremely physical and extremely competitive for 12 of the days. I’m really pleased with the effort.”

Other observations:

  • Bo Wallace played well and was sharp. He hit tight end Evan Engram on a beautiful wheel route and also added another touchdown to Laquon Treadwell, who caught two passes for 46 yards and one touchdown.
  • Mark Dodson caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield.
  • Freshman defensive end Marquis Haynes posted seven tackles and two sacks, and he’s fluid and has natural speed for the position. Freeze compared him to a young CJ Johnson.

Photo Credit: Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • As an Ole Miss fan, I’m not to worried about the QB position for the next few years. I think this is the first time I have seen an Ole Miss team that really doesn’t have any real holes on both offense and defense. Last season and pretty much ever year with Ole Miss teams the big concern has be depth. This team has not only depth, but quality depth. Which is the most important thing. I really do believe that a lot of ppl are going to be surprised with how good the Ole Miss defense is this season and how strong of a running game Ole Miss will have.

  • Cody Prewitt is a great example of why developing players is so important. His freshman year, he wouldn’t have started on a D-II team. Now, going into his senior season, he could very well win the Thorpe Award. As well as being an intelligent player, he absolutely destroys people when he tackles them. He will be fun to watch this year.

  • If Denzel can stay out of trouble, then Ole Miss may have the best linebacker setup in the country. DT is finally where he belongs at MLB, and CJ can back him up and float around at DE as well. If our cornerbacks and offensive linemen can hold strong all year long, then this may just be the year to win the west. Fingers crossed