OXFORD – Ole Miss offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez is continuing to install different parts of his offense and says he has about 70 percent of the total package in place.
One of his concerns this month is how fast so many freshmen are having to learn it.
“I was a little nervous about that with so many that are going to be in the two-deep, but we’re force-feeding it, and they’re handling it well,” Rodriguez said.
One true freshman out of three competitors will earn a spot on the two-deep as the backup quarterback to redshirt freshman Matt Corral.
Rodriguez says he’s not close to determining who that might be, and that competition could carry into the first few weeks of the season.
No one has risen above the others so far, he said.
“We haven’t been live with them. I’m debating whether I want to have them live at all during camp, but at some point it would probably help to do that,” Rodriguez said.
As the competition continues at running back Rodriguez did not indicate a pecking order behind Scottie Phillips. (Perhaps you’re noticing a trend.)
He did say Phillips “has to get in a little better shape,” and he said he expects to have three to four running backs ready to play.
He says he’s able to maintain the interest of players vying for playing time.
“It’s really not a problem, because we like to run a lot of plays. They probably wish we had four or five more,” Rodriguez said. “Derrick (Nix) is doing a good job of managing it. We’re running a lot of two-back sets at times just to give them extra reps.”
Indeed there were a lot of two-back sets in the eight media-viewing periods Wednesday.
I asked Rodriguez about the wide receivers, and again there’s no pecking order.
I will say that his face brightened a bit when I brought up Demarcus Gregory’s name. He likes this guy and says Gregory will definitely have a role.
I’m kind of interested to see what Gregory can do myself. With two different knee injuries he really hasn’t been healthy since his junior season at Byrnes High School in Duncan, South Carolina.
The couple of times I’ve been able to see him on the field at Ole Miss he’s looked like a physical receiver. He’s one to keep an eye on.
Random Observations …
Alex Givens, after a trip to Jackson for an MRI and further evaluation on Tuesday, was dressed without pads before practice. He disappeared when practice began. …
Senior tight end Jason Pellerin also disappeared but after about three periods into the eight media-viewable periods. Don’t know what’s going on there, probably nothing much. Rodriguez said he got dinged up.
Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell singled out Michael Howard during an individual drill, holding him up as an example for others to follow. Bicknell seemed to like Howard’s “pop” when firing off in the board drill. …
Running back reps included Phillips, Snoop Conner and D’Vaughn Pennamon with the first team, same rotation as Monday. Isaiah Woullard and Jerrion Ealy were working with the second team. …
Among the wide receivers, Jordan Jernigan and Jadon Jackson were getting reps with the second team. Gregroy and Miles Battle were mixing in with the first. …
During these periods we see the offense without no defense in front, just air. The first team is running north, the second team south, with about 30 yards between.
Matt Luke at one point, while observing the first team, caught a glance of the second team and yelled some instructions to the freshman offensive linemen.
They’re working to get these guys ready. Tackles Nick Broeker and Jeremy James still seem to be ahead of the group.