August 13, 2013 8:53:44 AM
OXFORD -- After a weekend scrimmage that saw the University of Mississippi football team's defense set the tone, the offense responded Monday to the challenge on the first day back on the practice field, much to the delight of coach Hugh Freeze.
"It was a really good day," Freeze said after the morning practice. "The offense certainly answered after this weekend's scrimmage. Dave (Wommack) and them probably don't feel like it was a good day. The offense created a lot of big plays and scoring plays in the red zone competition. They also won the third down competition. No turnovers and the quarterbacks took care of the ball. It was one of our better days offensively.
"The execution was good coming off a day off and heading into another week of two-a-days," Freeze said. "Looking back on the scrimmage, you're never as bad as you thought you were but you're never as good as you thought you were, either."
While the offense responded to the challenge put forth by the defensive performance over the weekend, Freeze was also glad to see several players return from injury - notably Issac Gross and Evan Engram. Kailo Moore is expected to return to the field in the evening session.
"Issac (Gross) played all day today, but we'll hold him tonight and not have him go twice in one day yet," Freeze said. "Evan (Engram) is back full speed and went the whole practice today. Kailo (Moore) is still going through his doctor's test, but we expect him to return to the physical part of things tonight."
While some returned to the field, Freeze noted the importance of others working their way back to health, including junior defensive back Senquez Golson.
"We're just trying to make sure Senquez (Golson) is well," Freeze said. "He's definitely better. The hamstring is something you don't want to fool with because you can deal with it all year if you don't get it well."
Freeze also talked about the progression of the newcomers, pointing out that the work ethic of the group has been impressive and fans could expect to see many get playing time in the opener. The Rebel head coach pointed to the play of Tony Conner, Derrick Jones, Robert Nkemdiche, Bobby Hill, Laquon Treadwell, Laremy Tunsil, and Quincy Adeboyejo.
"Our team chemistry has been very good," Freeze said. "If a player doesn't know what he's doing, he has very little chance at success. The last thing we want with the young kids is to put them in a position to not succeed because we haven't taught it well enough.
"When you're mixing and matching the newcomers with the veterans, you have to keep working," Freeze said. "We have to keep making sure the package is one they understand. The thing I'm most excited about is even though many of them were very highly recruited, they're like sponges. They want to work and get better."
Fans should mark their calendars for the annual Meet The Rebels Day presented by Community Trust Bank, Aug. 17 at the Indoor Practice Facility. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m.
n SEC agrees with nine bowls, including Belk, Texas: The Southeastern Conference has agreed to deals with nine bowl games, adding the Belk Bowl and Texas Bowl to its lineup starting in 2014.
Along with one guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff, the SEC has 10 postseason slots for its 14 teams. All new bowl deals run six years.
The Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., will get first pick of SEC teams available after those qualifying for the College Football Playoff.
The Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., Texas Bowl in Houston and Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., will work with the conference to select teams.
Advocare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., will get the next pick, followed by the Birmingham Bowl.
n Initial court date set for four ex-Vanderbilt players: At Nashville, Tenn., the former Vanderbilt football players charged with rape now have an initial court date.
An arraignment will be Aug. 21 for Brandon Vandenburg, 20, of Indio, Calif.; Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville; Brandon Banks, 19, of Brandywine, Md.; and Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie, 19, of Woodville.
They each have been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery involving an unconscious student at a campus dormitory in June.
Banks, who turned himself in Sunday night, was released Monday afternoon after posting $250,000 bail. McKenzie was released Saturday on $50,000 bond. Vandenburg and Batey are being held on $350,000 bond.
Authorities say the investigation of the June 23 incident at the Gillette House dormitory is ongoing.
The players were dismissed from the team June 29.
n Tennessee's Dallas could move from WR to cornerback: At Knoxville, Tenn., After moving from defensive back to receiver last season, the University of Tennessee's Vincent Dallas could return to the secondary.
Dallas played cornerback in Monday morning's practice session. Defensive coordinator John Jancek said afterward that "we're trying to develop some depth at the position and Vincent has some experience there, so we're taking a look at that." Tennessee head coach Butch Jones wasn't available to the media.
Dallas arrived at Tennessee as a receiver but spent last year's training camp in the secondary. He returned to receiver during the 2012 season and caught nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Tennessee lacked depth at cornerback even before an injury to Riyahd Jones kept him out of Monday morning's practice. Freshman cornerback Cameron Sutton has been getting first-team reps.
Reports from The Associated Press were included in this report.