Temperatures were in the 80s, but the air was stiflingly thick with the Mississippi summertime humidity as the Ole Miss football team continued the first week of preseason drills on Monday morning.
Rebel players donned shells (helmets, shoulder pads and thigh pads) for the two-hour session. They are scheduled to strap on full pads for the first time on Tuesday morning.
"We had a better day," first-year head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We're starting to get some different things in that will help us offensively. It was good to see us put a couple of things in and some tempo that got us some touchdowns on the board there at the end of practice.
"We're still so inconsistent and fighting what I call the 'mental bug' of being tough when the things get tougher. We've got to toughen up. When things start to slide, you've got to fight back even harder."
Freeze said the running game, which includes freshmen tailbacks I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, continues to improve as the coaching staff installs new plays at each practice.
"We're in install mode for the first seven days," Freeze said. "(The newcomers) are going to have some mistakes because we're adding things every single day. The walk-throughs at night are really helping us."
The first week has seen a couple of key returners sidelined with injuries in sophomore receiver Collins Moore and junior defensive back Charles Sawyer.
Freeze said Monday that Moore has a torn labrum, which teamdoctors and trainers will rehab and see what happens. He said that Sawyer tore his quad muscle and will likely be out for 4-6 weeks.
Receivers Philander Moore, Korvic Neat and Tobias Singleton are expected to help fill the void left by Moore.
The coaching staff has seen good things out of a pair of true freshman defensive backs, who will be needed to provide depth especially with Sawyer sidelined for the next few weeks.
"We're very excited about Quintavius (Burdette) and (Trae) Elston. They're going to have to play," Freeze said. "I think they're going to be good ones. How good they'll be as true freshmen, I don't know. But I love them both."
The Rebels' season opener is Sept. 1 against Central Arkansas (6 p.m. kickoff).
All Saturday practices are open to the public, including the 9:45 a.m. workout on August 11. All other practices are closed to the public. Meet The Rebels Day activities are set for August 18 at the Indoor Practice Facility.