The Ole Miss Rebels held their first and only open practice of the summer at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday, much to the delight of the nearly 1,000 Rebels fans in attendance.

Following practice, head coach Hugh Freeze told the Mississippi Press he thought “the defense is way ahead” of the Rebels’ offense to this point in training camp, even using the word “dominating” to describe the distinction.

Freeze specifically praised his defensive line, which he said helped the Ole Miss defense out-play the offense for a second straight day of practice.

We have some pretty good guys (on the defensive line),” Freeze told the Mississippi Press. “Marquis (Haynes), C.J. (Johnson) and Robert (Nkemdiche) are certainly pass rush guys and they’re a handful.

“If we were playing that front we would certainly have to game plan some different things, and we’re not doing any of that right now. In one-on-one matchups those guys are a handful.”

On the other side of that same coin, Freeze was also critical of his offensive line’s performance at Saturday’s practice.

“The things we did this morning, you have to be able to protect to run those things, and we did not protect at all,” Freeze said of his o-line. “We have to get more effort out of us offensively right now.”

Freeze did reference the team’s ongoing position battles at center and right tackle, and said the coaching staff has been “going back and forth this week” in trying to decide on starters at both positions. 

“It will probably be another week before we say, ‘This is who we’re going with in the first group,’ ” Freeze added.

Among the names the head coach mentioned in the race for the starting jobs were Fahn Cooper and Robert Conyers at right tackle and Ben Still art center.