OXFORD – There hasn’t been a lot of “live” tackling for Ole Miss through the first full week of camp, but that will change today when the Rebels to through their first game-like scrimmage.
Because there hasn’t been live tackling doesn’t mean there hasn’t been tackling, which is one of the main focus points for new defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre.
“We tackle every single day. We either take a dummy to the ground or we’re tackling each other in concise areas, but not going to the ground," MacIntyre said. "We do all types of different drills."
Tackling has been an issue for the Rebels amid other defensive struggles in recent seasons. Ole Miss has allowed more than 220 rushing yards a game in each of the last three seasons.
Emphasizing angles and leverage are just as important as the physical aspect, MacIntyre said.
“We’re doing as much ‘to the ground’ tackling as we can, and if we’re not doing it on people we’re doing it on dummies to simulate wrapping up," he said. "If you’re not doing that some, you’re not going to wrap up in the game.”
MacIntyre said players have responded well in tackling drills.
As a result he feels like the Rebels are creating depth at some positions, most notably linebacker which was a problem area in the old 4-2-5 scheme.
In the new 3-4 alignment, there are four linebackers on the field – two outside and two inside. Qaadir Sheppard, one of the starting outside linebackers, is out with an injury right now.
Junior inside linebacker Donta Evans, who appeared in only seven games last season, has taken a big step forward.
“He’s really playing well,” said MacIntyre, who also singled out the progress of junior college transfer Lakia Henry.
He hopes to see improved tackling technique mesh with improved physicality in the scrimmage.
“We want to play with good pad level up front with good technique. I want to see us tackle in space and understand our leverage points," MacIntyre said. "We want to know where the blocks are coming from and be able to see them.
“And we want to adversity. When it happens out there, how will they respond to that.”
Random notes and thoughts
Matt Corral got something in his eye during stretch. It bothered him a good bit, and several training staff had a look.
When it happened it had the look of something he’d shake off quickly and get back to practice. That’s what happened, but it was a reminder of how unproven the quarterbacks behind him – all true freshmen – are.
Not that Corral, with four game appearances, is really proven.
Speaking of QBs, the order of reps today went Corral, Tisdale, Plumlee, Dent. …
Players I noticed who were out today were TE Jason Pellerin, S Jon Haynes and OLB Qaadir Sheppard. Montrell Custis is still in a green jersey, which means he’s extremely limited.
I got the feeling Monday that Custis, when he spoke to us, was trying to talk his way into good health. It’s rare we have guys come out this long after knee surgery and admit to us that they haven’t completely “let go” mentally. …
I get the sense right now that MacIntyre has three cornerbacks he trusts – Myles Hartsfield, Jaylon Jones and Keidron Smith. Any two could start at Memphis. …
It’s hard to get a feel for a depth chart on defense. There were guys today on the “look” team that you know will play and probably start – MoMo Sanogo and Hartsfield – which means there are lot of other guys they’re trying to get reps and get ready to play.
On the defensive line redshirt freshman Quentin Bivens and true freshman Patrick Lucas were getting reps with Benito Jones in a first group to take the field.
Josiah Coatney, Tariqious Tisdale and redshirt freshman KD Hill were in the second group.
With Haynes out on Friday, Armani Linton was getting a lot of work in the first safeties group …
With Pellerin out, the top two tight ends were Octavious Cooley and Alex Faniel. …
There’s been no change among the first offensive line which – from left to right – goes Bryce Mathews, Royce Newman, Eli Johnson, Ben Brown and Michael Howard.
The second team included – from left – Nick Broeker, Reece McIntyre, Carter Colquitt, Caleb Warren and Jeremy James, all true freshmen.
McIntyre and Colquitt were teammates at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, last year, while James was a half hour away in Cumming, Georgia. …
Wide receivers coach Jacob Peeler wasn’t very pleased with his group early in practice. He gathered them together, got in their faces with colorful language and urged them to get their minds right.