Ole Miss

Ole Miss returners have upper hand in position battles

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly passes during an NCAA college football practice in Oxford Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016.
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly passes during an NCAA college football practice in Oxford Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. AP

Chad Kelly has picked up in August camp where he left off at the end of the 2015 season, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze says.

That’s good news for Kelly, but not so good for inexperienced cornerbacks trying to solidify spots in the playing rotation.

As with Kelly at quarterback, Tony Bridges and Ken Webster are solid starters at the cornerback positions. Behind them four other players are working to become the one or two backups who could most often spell them.

“There have been some big plays given up,” Freeze said. “Some of that you give to some receiver play that I think’s been good. The (cornerback) technique has to be more consistent in all of them.”

In other news Thursday, senior offensive lineman Jeremy Liggins remains suspended. It could be late in camp before he returns, Freeze said. Redshirt freshman Alex Givens is getting most of the first-team reps at left tackle right now, followed by junior Rod Taylor and freshman Greg Little.

Senior nickel back Tony Conner was held out of the late morning practice to rest his knee. He’s coming off two surgeries to repair a torn meniscus sustained at Alabama last September.

Wide receiver Markell Pack is out right now with a tendon issue in his hand. There’s no timetable for his return.

Experienced secondary

Seniors Carlos Davis and Kailo Moore are in the group of players trying to carve out roles at cornerback. Davis has appeared in 26 games over three years, but most of his work has been on special teams. Moore played in 10 games and had nine tackles.

That experience may give them an edge against redshirt freshman Jalen Julius and true freshman Jaylon Jones.

Bridges, who previously starred at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, appeared in all 13 games last year with 11 starts. He broke up nine passes, intercepted three and will be remembered for his 45-yard pick six against Mississippi State that gave Ole Miss a 21-0 lead in the late minutes of the first quarter.

Webster started all 13 games with 11 pass break-ups and one interception.

It was feast or famine in the Ole Miss secondary last season. The Rebels’ 258.8 passing yards allowed ranked them next to last in the SEC, but their 15 interceptions were second.

Julius and Jones — who was evaluated as a corner and safety by recruiting websites — have caught Freeze’s attention.

“Those two are going to be players,” he said. “We know that Tony and Ken Webster have had a lot of reps. We expect those two to be leaders back there.”