What we learned during Ole Miss’ spring practice

NCAA Football: Idaho at Mississippi

SDS will be taking a tour around the conference and looking at each team’s progress – or lack thereof – made during spring camp. Next up, Ole Miss.

Here’s what we learned during Ole Miss’ spring practice:

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Offense

Freeze has options at QB: Yes, Bo Wallace is the starter, but we’ve learned over the last two years that Hugh Freeze won’t hesitate to throw a changeup at the defense; Barry Brunetti has been the changeup. Now, Hugh Freeze has options for his 2014 changeup. DeVante Kincade can be a dual-threat spark, and he’s a sharp passer with a big arm. Ryan Buchanan is more of a pocket passer, but he has plenty of upside and is quicker than most think at the position. And then there’s Jeremy Liggins, the 300-pound freak who can play a variety of positions, including running back or defensive tackle. Freeze probably has in mind who his primary backup will be should Wallace get injured, but if he needs to have an offensive spark, he has options.

Offensive line mystery: Outside of arguably the SEC’s top offensive lineman in left tackle Laremy Tunsil and guard Justin Bell, there are plenty of questions about the unit. Aaron Morris or Christian Morgan weren’t available this spring, as both were recovering from injuries. Center Evan Swindall graduated, and Robert Conyers and Ben Still competed this spring to replace him. Newcomers Fahn Cooper and Jordan Sims could also be factors, but this group needs depth.

One to watch: Rising sophomore Quincy Adeboyejo had a nice spring, and he’s a breakout candidate in 2014. Hugh Freeze raved about Adeboyejo as a slot receiver and about his playmaking ability. Think about Laquon Treadwell, Vince Sanders, Evan Engram AND Adeboyejo in the slot and all out here at the same time; that means weapons all over the field, and multiple problems for the defense.

Dodson will be a factor: When I look at Ole Miss’ offense, there are two positions that jump out. Foremost, the offensive line has some questions and some shuffling, but the Rebels are still looking for that every-down running back. I’Tavius Mathers may get the most carries, but Jaylen Walton and Mark Dodson will also be factors. And Dodson may play a bigger role than anyone anticipates. He rushed for 124 yards on 22 carries last season. Again, there’s good depth, but the Rebels are still looking for that difference maker at running back.

RELATED: 5 Ole Miss players ready for big roles in 2014

Defense

MLB won’t miss a beat: Weathered veteran and three-year starter Mike Marry is gone, but don’t expect a drop off at middle linebacker. The Rebels moved Deterrian ‘DT’ Shackelford to replace Marry, and it worked out great this spring. Shackelford took two years off due to a knee injury, and he’s a defensive end by trade. He racked up 44 tackles, including 7.5 for loss. Most thought JUCO signee Christian Russell would take over for Marry, but it’s Shackelford’s job to lose.

Let’s break down the biggest takeaways of every spring practice:

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I would agree with you on most of what you said, but I would disagree with you about the OL. Ole Miss will have a great left side with LT Laremy Tunsil and LG Aaron Morris. Morris will be fine. He was an All-Sec guard in 2012 and would have been again this past season if he didn’t get hurt. RT Austin Golson will be an upgrade at RT. By the end of fall center Ben stills will have won the center position. Plus Ole Miss has talent waiting in the wings with 4-star tackle Fahn Cooper and Christian Morris. Plus the 5-star No. 1 OG Rod Taylor.