OXFORD, Miss. – About 500 fans decked out in red and blue attire enjoyed some beautiful August weather and the Rebel football team’s first scrimmage of the 2012 preseason on Saturday morning.
Skies were clear and temperatures were in the 70s with a light breeze for the team’s two-hour practice, the last hour-and-a-half of which pitted the offense versus the defense.
The Rebel defense started and finished strong, while quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti led their offensive units to some success in the middle of the scrimmage.
After the defense won several series to open the scrimmage, the offense finally got into the endzone with a short touchdown by freshman running back I’Tavius Mathers, set up by a good pass play from Wallace to Philander Moore.
Wallace would go on to lead his units to two more touchdown drives and two field goal drives, while Brunetti struggled before leading a drive that freshman running back Jaylen Walton punched in with a short TD run up the middle.
“We can do some things in the run game,” said first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, who was less pleased with his quarterbacks than in the previous two days of practice. “We kind of saved some of the guys and didn’t run them too much, like Randall Mackey. We think Jeff Scott will be back Monday and ready to go. I think we had some quarterback runs that looked good.”
Freeze lauded the efforts of Mathers and Walton in their first taste of an intrasquad scrimmage. Mathers finished with a touchdown and some nice runs, including a 39-yarder in which he stepped out at the 2-yard-line. Walton had a touchdown and a nice 20-yard catch on a float pass from Wallace.
“I’m excited about them. Both Jaylen and I’Tavius looked good, particularly on tired legs,” Freeze said. “It’s day eight and everybody’s a little fatigued. They both had spurts that looked good. They’re still swimming and making mistakes, but they showed that they’re quality backs.”
Among the defensive players that stood out were freshman Quintavius Burdette, who had back-to-back big plays when he tackled H.R. Greer at the line of scrimmage and then intercepted Brunetti, and freshman Trae Elston, who defended a deep cross-the-field pass from Wallace that would have been a touchdown. Sophomore Senquez Golson also had an interception, as did senior defensive tackle Gilbert Pena on the last play of the scrimmage, which drew massive cheers from the defensive players.
“The defense had good energy. They got turnovers, which is good for that side, and not too good for our side,” said Freeze, who coaches the offensive side of the ball during practices. “There were some positives. It’s never as bad as it seems and it’s never as good as it seems when you go back and watch the film. We’ll go back in and get after it on Monday.”
Meet The Rebels Day activities are set for next Saturday, August 18, at the Indoor Practice Facility.
August 11, 2012
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations