OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - The Ole Miss football team took to the indoor practice field at the Manning Center on Monday as it continued preparations for the season opener against Boise State on Aug, 28 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Head coach Hugh Freeze commented on the state of the team heading into the 2014 season, while also sharing thoughts on camp to this point.
“I love our energy and I love where we are heading,” said Freeze. “I’ve said that all along. We’re a better football team than we were the last two years. Hopefully, we can remain healthy throughout the remainder of camp and get ready to play Boise State. I love what I see and I think our leadership is improved. We’re definitely deeper and we’re excited about getting it going.”
When asked about his thoughts specifically on fall camp, Freeze expressed that it’s been a fairly normal camp.
“You’re disappointed with some, frustrated with some and elated with some,” said Freeze. “There were parts of practice today that I just loved. I thought the competitive nature and the way they got after each other in some of the team drills was really good to see. There were other parts where we made too many mental mistakes or had a drop here. We have to execute better but it’s been a good camp so far.”
The head coach also discussed a little bit about the competition at running back, specifically talking about Mark Dodson and what he brings to the position.
“I’m pleased with all the running backs,” said Freeze. “I think that’s a place that with the depth and quality people, that I’m not afraid to play any of them at this point. Dodson’s just like the rest of them, some do some things better, but I wouldn’t be afraid to play any of them at this point. He’s physical and runs with great balance and finishes with good pad level,” said Freeze. “He takes care of the football when he runs it and his pass protection is pretty decent. He measures up quite well with the rest of the backs.”
In terms of order at the position, Freeze doesn’t have a set order at this point, but acknowledged that I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton would likely be at No. 1 given their experience, but also said there are quality players at the position.
While talking about the depth he has at running back, Freeze also talked about the lack of depth in the offensive line and receiver positions.
“We’ve still got a ways to go with the offensive line,” said Freeze. “We tried some more combinations today. Rod (Taylor) moved out to tackle and we moved Sean (Rawlings) out to tackle. Carlton (Martin) moved inside with Daronte (Bouldin) and the others that have been playing inside. We’ll watch the tape and see how they did.”
Freeze also talked a little about the receiver position.
“I wish we were deeper there,” said Freeze. “Like I’ve said all along, at offensive line, tight end and receiver, we have some depth issues. We need to stay healthy. Some of those young kids, Sammie Epps and Markell Pack will be good players, but will they be ready Aug. 28? That’s a good question and I don’t know that answer.”
Coach also addressed the injury to Tee Shepard.
“He’s still out and I don’t know much more,” said Freeze. “They told me this morning that we have to FedEx everything to Birmingham and it will probably be tomorrow before they get a chance to read it. I’m always optimistic but this is something that I’m not real familiar with. It’s a tendon on the bottom of his big toe that if it’s completely torn it needs surgery, but if not there have been some that have played and gotten it fixed in the offseason. We’ll just have to wait and see what they tell us.”
The Rebels open the 2014 season on Thursday, Aug. 28 when they take on Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (CT).