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Looking back at Thursday morning’s practice

Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

Ole Miss held its second 5:30 am practice of spring this past Thursday morning, during which the Rebel offense had arguably its best day.
For most of the spring, the defense under defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has consistently dominated the offense in team drills. That was not the case on Thursday, as the offense installed more of the playbook and used it to their advantage.
“Well, I don’t know if turning the corner is the word, but we certainly challenged them,” head coach Hugh Freeze said. “We’re getting some more stuff in that helps us, some moving the pocket instead of standing in the pocket stationary. That helps us some because we have some athletic quarterbacks.
“I’ll watch the film to see how the execution was, but I know we had some players make plays and that was very encouraging.”
Much of the Rebels success offensively came in the vertical passing game, as both junior Barry Brunetti and sophomore Bo Wallace found success throwing the ball down the field. Both threw for touchdowns during the team portion of practice.
“We’re just now getting some of that in, where we feel we can get it protected,” Freeze said. “We want to do that three times a quarter. It’s kind of who we are, and we want to go vertical and see what happens. It was good to see some receivers make plays.”
After shuffling the offensive line for this past Tuesday’s practice by moving Pierce Burton down to second team, the line was back to normal on Thursday.
Freeze said that the installation of play-action helped the offensive line as much as anything, and that he saw improvement.
“I know that coach (Matt) Luke is working as hard as he can on it,” Freeze said. “They definitely looked better and played with a little more passion today.”
Freeze sees Brassell as an NFL corner
Sophomore wide receiver/defensive back Nick Brassell practiced for the third time in a row after missing all of the previous practices due to academic issues. Brassell lined up at wide receiver during his first two practices, but worked at cornerback exclusively on Thursday. It’s safe to say that Freeze liked what he saw from the Batesville native on defense Thursday.
“I think he’s an NFL corner,” Freeze said. “I do. I think he’s a guy we need to have a package for offensively, but I just think he’s so talented that that’s where he needs to play. He’s an NFL corner. I think he can play the position for a very long time.”
Using a player on both sides of the ball is nothing new to Freeze, as he did it last year at Arkansas State.
“We did that with a kid at Arkansas State last year, Don Jones,” he said. “He played our husky position, and we got him 4-5 touches a game.”
While Brassell has been able to practice, his academic standing remains a work in progress. According to Freeze, “it’s a day-to-day thing” and will be evaluated again on Monday. The Rebels return to practice Tuesday and Thursday, which will not be open to the public, and will hold an open scrimmage in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday at 10 a.m.