OXFORD – A leader may have emerged in the backup quarterback race, but Grant Tisdale isn’t taking anything for granted.
Tisdale spoke this week as a player confident in his standing in the race for No. 2 but with an eye on how he hopes to improve.
“It’s my foot work and trusting my eyes a little bit.”
In his eagerness to make big plays downfield Tisdale sometimes complicates things, he says.
“I make the right read, but then I second-guess myself. I have to trust my eyes and believe what I see.”
Tisdale threw for 5,088 yards over three high school seasons and had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 47-4 as a senior.
In preparation for Memphis defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre, the head coach at Colorado the past four seasons, has found himself watching his old game video.
He expects a big challenge from Memphis head coach Mike Norvell.
“Norvell is a phenomenal offensive coordinator. He’s going to have some new wrinkles. I guarantee you he’s looked at Colorado’s defenses for the last four years, so we have too to say, ‘Hey, what’s similar?’”
MacIntyre said installation of the game plan for Memphis will begin “soon.”
Smart with speed
The speed of the Rich Rodriguez offense has been a constant topic of players and was fresh on their minds early in the week after Rodriguez berated them for not moving quickly enough.
Success of the system is based in part in not only moving fast but varying speeds. To that end players have to be ready quickly to look to the sideline and get the play. At times there’s been only a six-second turnaround between the end of one play and the receiving of the next.
“Sometimes fatigue sets in both mentally and physically,” Rodriguez said. “We have to do a good job as coaches and players in making sure we don’t let fundamentals slip in the sacrifice of tempo.”
There has been no change in the status of senior right offensive tackle Alex Givens (back surgery) and freshman tackle Darius Thomas (irregular heartbeat) as both remain held out of drills.
Michael Howard, a fifth-year senior with little game experience, immediately stepped into Givens’ spot at the start of camp. He was getting snaps at left tackle during the week as Bryce Mathews moves to the right side.
The five starting offensive linemen have remained in place throughout camp, and Rodriguez explained the swap as simply exposing players to different positions.
“ We want the guards to be able to play both sides, the tackles to play both sides, some guards to play center. We’ve got to find combinations, not just who our five best are, but who our eight best are and how those combinations will work.”
Fluid depth chart
Both Ole Miss coordinators have been using multiple player combinations in camp.
“This is the only time of year you can build depth,” MacIntyre said.
Injuries, particularly on defense, have forced the issue on varying combinations too. Outside linebacker Qaadir Sheppard (hand), free safety Jalen Julius (ankle) and strong safety Jonathan Haynes (hamstring), a first-year junior college transfer, are expected to be ready for the Aug. 31 opener but have missed most of camp so far.
MacIntyre also said several spots on the two-deep remain unsettled.
“The depth chart is fluid for a couple of reasons. There is competition at some spots but also to get guys in there against first and second lines, first and second receivers, matchups to let them compete against higher-level guys. We’ve done that with some of the third-team guys, got them in their against the first team, because they could be in there,” MacIntyre said.