OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Matt Luke was pleased with the progress from the first major scrimmage of camp to the second, saying the Rebels showed more “energy” during Saturday’s simulated game conditions.

The Rebels exited the workout pretty good in terms of health, though free safety Jalen Julius tweaked his bad ankle and left Monday’s practice early. He’s expected back Tuesday.

Luke said Scottie Phillips was effective in the run game early in the scrimmage, but the defense adjusted and played better near the end.

“I thought the energy was better, the body language was really good. There was a competitive spirit out there that went back and forth. Scottie had a couple of good runs early. I thought the defense bounced back and played well toward the end of the scrimmage. It was good competition and a big improvement from the first scrimmage in my eyes for sure.”

Senior offensive tackle Alex Givens continues to work on his lower body strength with a goal of playing college football on Aug. 31 after a surgical procedure on his back in mid-July.

A final word on Givens’ status will come next Monday, Luke said.

If Givens can play conditioning will be his biggest challenge.

“He’s doing more football specific stuff. Just trying to build that base so when he does come back and start contact he’s not starting from zero. He’s working his legs more, and he’s looked pretty good. We’re all anxious to get him back out there, and he’s moving closer. We just have to be smart and progress him, but I think he’s on track,” Luke said.

Tackle Nick Broeker appears to be ahead of the freshmen that offensive line coach Jack Bicknell is trying to prepare.

Luke said he expects to play seven to eight offensive lineman against Memphis.

“I feel very comfortable with seven or eight right now,” he said.

Senior outside linebacker Qaadir Sheppard has missed most of camp while recovering from hand surgery but was at practice in a green “no contact” jersey with his left hand tightly wrapped.

Luke said he expects Sheppard to play against Memphis with a club similar to what linebacker Mohamed Sanogo wore at times last year.

Notes and thoughts after six viewable periods Monday …

Josiah Coatney has spent a lot of camp running with the second-team defensive line. Today he was with the first team, joined by Ryder Anderson at the other end and Benito Jones in the middle.

Jones has been a mainstay with the first team through camp.

Sam Williams and Charles Wiley were the starting outside backers. Qaadir Sheppard was at practice in a green jersey but not doing much. His left hand is wrapped up tight.

Elsewhere on the first defense the inside backers were Mohamed Sanogo and Lakia Henry, who may be the most secure guys on the defense in terms of starting against Memphis. Jacquez Jones and Willie Hibbler are also playing well and are pushing the starters.

The corners were Myles Hartsfield and Keidron Smith, the safeties Jon Haynes and – an interesting twist here – freshman A.J. Finley.

“He’s a smart conscientious kid and he’s really made a big push here lately. I’ve been impressed with him and what he’s been able to do,” Luke said.

The absence of Julius and Haynes for much of a camp has allowed a number of young safeties to get important reps. Luke mentioned Jay Stanley and Tay Standifer too.

Like Julius, freshman defensive end LeDarrius Cox also left practice early. He’s been getting a good amount of second-team reps and work on special teams too. …

Offensively it’s possible freshman wide receiver Jonathan Mingo could be making a move. He got some reps with the ones and seemed more secure in the reps he was getting with the twos.

Rich Rodriguez last week told us there is definitely a plan for Mingo.

The first receivers getting reps with the ones Monday were Miles Battle and Braylon Sanders wide and Elijah Moore in the slot.

My guess is those four plus Dontario Drummond, Demarcus Gregory and Tylan Knight (slot) will be the rotation and will play in some combination. …

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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