5 takeaways from Ole Miss football scrimmage: Offense has 15 drives, 0 touchdowns
OXFORD — In news that could make fans giddy, the Ole Miss Rebels were back in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on a Saturday afternoon.
Ole Miss football held an open spring practice on Saturday, scrimmaging in front of a couple hundred fans. As has been the case all spring, the Rebels were practicing shorthanded because of injuries, especially on offense.
Still, there were a few lessons to be gleaned from the session. Here are five observations the Clarion Ledger took away from Saturday's practice:
1. A dominant defensive day
The scrimmage consisted of 15 11-versus-11 drives, pitting the first-team offense against the first-team defense and the second-team offense against the second-team defense.
Neither the first- nor second-team offense scored a touchdown and only one drive, the first, resulted in a field goal. Two drives ended in turnovers. The other 12 ended with punts or turnovers on downs.
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The defense generated a ton of success rushing the passer. Senior edge rusher Sam Williams logged a sack and junior college defensive line signees Jamond Gordon and Isaiah Iton each logged sacks in the two-minute drill drives.
The secondary snagged an interception against starting quarterback Matt Corral in a two-minute drill and also forced a fumble against the second-team offense.
2. The offense was very shorthanded
If you need an excuse for why the Rebels' offense struggled, look no further than the list of absent regulars. Wide receivers Braylon Sanders and Jonathan Mingo, tight ends Casey Kelly and Hudson Wolfe, running backs Jerrion Ealy and Henry Parrish and center Ben Brown all were out.
The first-team offense consisted of only four of last year's starters playing at the same position as they did a year ago: Corral, wide receiver Dontario Drummond, tackle Nick Broeker and guard Caleb Warren. Running back Snoop Conner and offensive lineman Jeremy James also played, although Conner was a rotational player last year and James was playing tackle instead of guard as he did a year ago.
Some new faces on the offense included wide receivers Qua Davis and Dannis Jackson, tight end Jonathan Hess and offensive lineman Bryce Ramsey. Ramsey played center and guard, rotating positions with Warren. Davis was a favorite target of Corral's on the lone scoring drive of the scrimmage.
3. The 7-on-7 star
Corral led the first-team offense and sophomore Kinkead Dent played quarterback for the second team. Freshman Luke Altmyer handled the third team and looked good, albeit playing in 7-on-7 situations instead of full 11-on-11 football.
Altmyer led one touchdown drive in 7-on-7, throwing a 1-yard score to junior walk-on Nevin Wells. Altmyer also connected with Wells on a beautiful wheel route that brought the team to the 1, gaining about 30 yards on the throw over single coverage.
4. The return game
Ole Miss repped a good number of players in kick and punt returning drills at the beginning and end of Saturday's session. With Ealy injured and wide receiver Elijah Moore moving on to the NFL, neither of Ole Miss' regular returners from last year are participating this spring.
Ole Miss worked Jackson, Jalen Jordan, Tylan Knight and Jamar Richardson, among a number of others.
5. Getting full springs in new roles
Knight and Miles Battle are still working full-time on defense. Knight, a former running back, and Battle, a former receiver, both moved to defense last fall when the Rebels were low on bodies because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Battle and Knight both earned reps with the first team Saturday. Battle started the opening drive at cornerback and Knight rotated as an in-the-box safety and nickelback.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.