Football Practice Report: Six Practices In

Published 1:15 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2022

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss football team is one week closer to kicking off the 2022-23 season as they completed their first practice in full pads on Tuesday.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and Rebel wide receivers JJ Henry and Jalen Knox met with the media following Tuesday’s practice to discuss the progress made thus far after completing the sixth day of fall camp.

With 24 portal transfers arriving to Oxford, the evolvement of the team is taken through a new point of view compared to previous years.

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“Your new guys are usually at the bottom,” Kiffin said. “We have a lot of new guys that have played a lot, and we expect them to play. That’s why they’re here. It’s a work in progress and really, it’s both sides.

“You can look out there and see, easily, half of the guys out there that are going against each other are portal guys. At one point I thought to myself, ‘That guy was just playing for Auburn and is covering a guy that just played for Mississippi State.’ That’s just the world we’re in.”

Kiffin is examining his team’s development and regulating as it goes, but he is not the only one adapting to the team’s atmosphere.

“I definitely feel like it’s kind of different trying to adjust to everybody’s play style,” Jalen Knox said. “We have so many different people that can do so many different things. Just learning what everybody can do at a high level and to get that ultimate offense.”

“This is kind of really grind time where you’ve got to work on stuff mentally and the obvious physical toll in the way that we practice and the style that we practice in,” Kiffin stated. “That’s an adjustment for a number of these transfers, which was to be expected. We’re plugging along and doing well. We still have a lot of work to do to be where we want to be.”

Kiffin is fully focused on the first scrimmage of the season that will take place Saturday, Aug. 13.

With six defensive players from last season currently on NFL rosters and a top-ranked transfer portal class, new faces will bring new talents, but also new challenges. The scrimmage gives way for what the Rebels are gaining, and what needs fine-tuning before Sept. 3.

“I think you put more weight in the scrimmage than ever because of the quarterbacks being young and because of all these portal guys that haven’t played together,” Kiffin said. “As far as us, we haven’t seen the defensive guys tackle. Some of them are in different positions than where you’ve seen them in the year before. I don’t recall scrimmages being more important than these coming up.”

Tuesday’s practice marked the first completed practice in full pads for the Rebels. This small landmark in the fall camp’s schedule still brings a new excitement for the players knowing they are another step closer to gameday.

“It feels good,” Henry said. “It felt like a long time coming. The season’s around the corner. School’s starting. It’s getting hotter. I can’t wait.”

Even with new faces from the portal added to the roster, the Rebels still have newcomers that are here to prove themselves just as much.

“We have some really promising young guys that have a bright future,” Kiffin stated. “They’re talented and long, so this is the time. We’ve got reps going on both fields.”

One of the newcomers, Henry who redshirted his freshman year, was seen showing his skills and catching multiple touchdowns for the Rebel offense in practice.

“To see a guy that’s been here and really getting better through our process has been great and is awesome to see,” Kiffin remarked on Henry.

The challenge of naming the new QB1 remains as both Luke Altmyer and Jaxson Dart are competing for the spot. The Rebels are patiently analyzing the two to replace Matt Corral after the two-year starter was drafted in the third round NFL Draft.

“I know I sound like a broken record, but they do some things really well and at times they look young again,” Kiffin said. “It takes some getting used to of having new quarterbacks and losing a veteran that was a lead arm talent.”

With fall camp now in full swing, all players are competing with each for their spot on the starting lineup card.

“I don’t think either has the upper hand right now,” Henry said. “I think they’re both going at it, and it’s going to be a strong battle.”