By Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. – Spring practice for Ole Miss this season has a bit more significance than other years. It gives the new coordinators Phil Longo and Wesley McGriff an early opportunity to implement their systems.
For the offense in particular, the players have the weighty task of digesting an entire system within the first four days of spring ball.
“They have new terminology,” Longo said. “They have new formations and new plays. Everything is Greek to them right now. They did a good job in the month that we had to prepare.”
Obviously at this point so early in with that new system, there are some growing pains. The benefit is after the four days, Ole Miss immediately can work on perfecting Longo’s playbook of about 25 or 26 plays.
“For having a brand new staff and a brand new offense with guys that did something different last year, I like where we are,” Longo said. “They’re going to get to re-rep and re-educate things a lot more than they’ve been able to do in the past.”
Longo’s instillation is as fast as his offense. The new coordinator on the other side of the ball that has to field a unit that can keep up with it can vouch for that, firsthand.
“The game will definitely be slower,” McGriff said. “With the pace we go in practice, we welcome it. We embrace it. It gives us a chance to push our guys to the edge.”
Of course, McGriff is in the same situation as Longo. He’s implanting his flavor to the defense while getting a feel of the talent he has on that side of the ball.
“With the instillation, the guys have done a tremendous job of grasping the information and retaining it,” McGriff. “We expect to have some mistakes early on, and we’ll coach them through that. The one thing that has certainly been pleasing is that they’re going to play the next play.”
It’s obvious that players on both sides of the ball are looking to jump out to their new coordinators in the early stages of spring practice. There’s easy to see enthusiasm on the practice fields. It’s a first-impression on the field for both sides of the player-coordinator relationship.
“Right now, it’s a little chicken with your head cut off,” Longo said. “That’s going to start to fade and they’ll be more poise in our tempo. Right now, we’re running around trying to please coaches and get things done and think fast.”
Even without a high-level of comfort in the system yet, McGriff can vouch for Ole Miss’ offense. Through the first couple days of practice, they’ve shown they can throw many looks at his defense already.
“I told the offensive staff in joking coming in, ‘They can call you a lot of things, but status quo they can’t call you,’ McGriff said. “They gave us a lot of formations and movements and it was good for our guys to adjust to it.” – RN