Spring look ahead: Corners

Looking ahead to football positions entering spring practice, and what better place to start than with cornerbacks, given Monday’s news of the day.

It will be interesting to see where Hugh Freeze turns to fill the position. When he made the move from Arkansas State to Ole Miss, Freeze had been a Division 1 head coach for one season, and that was at Arkansas State. His contacts were limited, and even though he was taking an SEC job, he was taking it at a school that was dragging bottom.

A year later Freeze’s contacts may have expanded some, but more to the point, coaching at Ole Miss is more attractive.

I suspect Freeze will find a good coach, but that coach will be an energetic recruiter first and foremost. My guess.

On the field the mark of good coaching is when players get better at the end. The cornerbacks did this, as did other positions.

Over the first half of the season opponents routinely passed 65 percent or better against Ole Miss. Texas was 19-for-24 passing for a 79.1 percent success rate.

Opponents’ completion percentage improved over the back half of the season. It still hovered in the 50s, but that was much better than earlier. The bigger news was that the Rebels began to close with interceptions, getting five of their 15 in the final three games. Pass break-ups took a huge leap forward in 2012 with 52 compared to 30 in 2011.

Senquez Golson was playing better at the end, getting all three of his interceptions over the last three games.

It stands to reason that Golson can make much more improvement this spring having given up baseball.

Part of the reason for the improvement over the back half of the season was the move of Charles Sawyer from safety to corner. Entering his senior year he brings a wealth of experience to the position.

I wouldn’t call Golson or Sawyer lock-down corners at this point.

Maybe Nick Brassell becomes that, but it’s way too early to start counting on Brassell for football before Brassell shows he can be counted on the classroom.

Wesley Pendleton is gone, and Louis Covington and Anthony Standifer will again provide depth.

The most widely known signees were not corners, though some may end up there, and David Kamara was an interesting story, always in the background of Robert Nkemdiche, his long-time friend.

All in all, there’s experience and talent to work with – a big up-side for Golson who will be football-only – and depth will have to develop.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

Posted in Football, Recruiting Tagged with: , , , , , ,
  • BikiniBob

    it will be interesting to see if any of the momentum the secondary gained in the back half of 2012 carries over to spring ball in March. I think that some of there improvement was due to the front seven becoming better. This defense has a chance to be salty in 2013.

    • Parrish Alford

      I think the defense has a chance to be really good if several things happen. Nick Brassell needs to be on the field, Channing Ward needs the light to come on in the spring, as does Robert Nkemdiche in August. If those three are the players that most believe them to be the Ole Miss defense, which was getting better at the end of the year, has a chance to do big things.

  • JB

    Ole Miss excited about the newly drafted players and wanting to show them off early in spring training. I cannot fault them on this it was a very good draft. I must admit they do need help quickly to get back in competition with SEC and national play. Good luck Rebels!!!! JB

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