March 8, 2014 10:54:44 PM
OXFORD -- The Ole Miss football team closed its first week of spring football practice Friday morning with the first workout in full pads inside the Manning Center.
After the hour-and-a-half physical practice ended, coach Hugh Freeze released his players to go to their last classes before next week's spring break.
"I loved the energy," Freeze said. "Now it's time to take a little break and get everybody back and hopefully get a few more guys healthy."
The Rebels finished their first week of training with the defense ahead of the offense.
"As always, when you start to put on pads, your offense is usually behind some of the stuff the defense is doing," Freeze said. "Our (defense) jumped in bear today, and we (the offense) certainly haven't practiced that. There were some decent runs at times, but the defense kind of dominated the team scrimmage."
In addition to a spirited team scrimmage, the team opened and closed practice with some intense one-on-one drills that featured offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen, receivers vs. cornerbacks and running backs vs. linebackers and safeties.
A thin offensive line got a little thinner with an injury to converted lineman Carlton Martin, but Freeze believes his apparent leg injury on Friday wasn't major.
"We're struggling to get a full second line," Freeze said. "We've moved some guys that are walk-ons from tight end to there to try to make it happen, but that's the hand we have. We've got to get it fixed in recruiting, but it's going to take us a couple more years on the O-line."
He said junior college transfers Talbot Buys and Craig Frigo have helped out and "they don't mind mixing it up."
The competition at backup quarterback continues, led by redshirt-freshmen DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan.
"Yesterday I thought we had a better day than today," Freeze said of the quarterbacks. "It was the first day we had a live something coming at them, and they seemed to struggle a little bit. DeVante made some plays with his legs, which is good to see. Ryan made the right decisions, but the throws were just off. But nobody has separated themselves yet."
Spring break plans for 10 Rebel players will be out of the norm, as they head to Haiti for a week as part of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes mission team. Justin Bell, Serderius Bryant, Buchanan, Deterrian Shackelford, and John Youngblood, among others, will travel with Ole Miss football chaplain John Powell and linebackers coach Tom Allen to work on construction projects and spend time with children in a Haitian village.
The first practice open to the public is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
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