Back At It

After a mandatory day off, the Rebels hit the practice fields Tuesday afternoon and began what will be their normal game week schedule. There was one impressive new face out there and a couple returned off the injury list. Read about it inside.

It was business as usual at Tuesday's practice as the Rebels came back after taking Monday off and getting classes started.

Or was it?

There's been a lot of anticipation about this particular practice since it would be the first of the career of one Channing Ward, the freshman defensive end academically cleared by the NCAA last Friday.

He's now in the fold, dressing out and practicing with the big boys.

"He's swimming right now, but he looks good in a suit," Coach Hugh Freeze chuckled. "He's in decent shape, but he just doesn't know what he's doing yet. How far we can bring him in a short amount of time, I don't know, but I know Coach (Chris) Kiffin and our defensive staff are working hard to see how much he can retain in a short amount of time.

"We are just glad he's out here. Channing will certainly be a valuable asset to us."

Also noteworthy is the attempt by WR Collins Moore to return to action after he dislocated his shoulder and torn his labrum the first day of pads.

"We were not going to put Collins in any contact today, but I saw him in indo and he looked good. He said he wasn't in any pain," Freeze noted. "We will turn him loose in contact next week and see how he responds."

Collins' shoulder is heavily braced and he looks determined to play, but the question, that will probably not be answered quickly, is can he play through some pain and discomfort, which is inevitable?

DT Uriah Grant was finally "turned loose" for full contact after being limited the past week in teh final stages of his shoulder rehab from offseason surgery.

"It was good to see Uriah out there. He seemed to be pain free. Uriah is quick twitched and we need him in there. We need a lot of bodies in there and Uriah will help us a lot," Freeze stated.

DE Channing Ward
File Photo

This is the first chance the media has had to ask Freeze, after he watched the film, about Saturday's scrimmage.

"The same people who have been doing well continued to do so. I was impressed with (LG) Justin Bell and (RT) Patrick Junen. They graded well," noted Freeze. "We need that because we have to develop depth on the OL. Aaron (Morris) also had a good day and the young running backs continued to impress us.

"Of the quarterbacks, Bo (Wallace) graded the highest. We rested C.J. (Johnson) and got a better look at Ralph (Williams) at DE and he did pretty good. We need him to give us a little more pressure off the edge. In the secondary, (CB) Louis Covington graded out the highest. Also, Maikhail Miller looked good. He did some impressive things in the scrimmage at QB. He made some good throws and made some good decisions."

The inevitable question of a starting QB decision came up again.

"We will decide next week who will start, but I am still dead set that both will play. We've got our minds set that those first two games you will see both of them and go from there based on who has the most production," he said.

Random Notes:

* Freeze is not tipping his hand about who will redshirt and who won't - yet. "It's a little early for that. Part of our decision will be based on who is healthy and who isn't," he said. "It's unfortunate we have to wait on that to decide with some of them, but that is where we are depth-wise right now. We have had some preliminary discussions about a 70-man travel squad and what that will look like, but that is all guessing too because of injuries, etc."

* One question being asked since Saturday's scrimmage has been regarding QB Bo Wallace's blister on the index finger of his throwing (right) hand. Apparently, it's healed enough where Bo did not wear a glove or any type of bandage on the finger today.

* CB Cliff Coleman (MCL sprain) is still sitting out of practice, but he's expected back later this week if all goes according to plan. "Cliff has the MCL sprain and a little bone bruise, so he's not as far along as Wesley. I think Cliff, Charles Sawyer and Wesley Pendleton will all try to come back next week," said Freeze.

* CB Wesley Pendleton (MCL sprain) was supposed to return to practice Tuesday, after missing over a week of fall camp, but he is sick and did not attend the workout. Hopefully, he recovers soon and will be back in the saddle. "He came in this morning throwing up with the flu and we sent him home," said Hugh.

* With Coleman and Pendleton out, walkon JUCO transfer Louis Covington is taking the reps with the number one defense at one corner spot opposite CB Senquez Golson on the boundary side.

* There has been no detectable movement on the defensive line depth chart since Saturday's scrimmage, indicating the frontliners must have done a good job. Across the front it's DE E.J. Epperson, NT Carlton Martin, DT Issac Gross and Bandit C.J. Johnson. SO Gross will definitely play this year? "A lot," said Freeze. "He's quick, explosive and he loves to compete. He will play a lot."

WR Collins Moore
File Photo

* Free Safety Ivan Nicholas (hamstring) is still out, but is also expected back in action later this week.

* Don't be surprised if Rover Charles Sawyer, who has been out for nearly three weeks with a torn quad, comes back to practice next week, a week ahead of the time frame that was anticipated. Freeze said as much today. When Sawyer returns, look for Chief Brown, who was moved from FS to Rover after Charles was injured, to start working at both Rover and FS.

* Tuesday's scout team on offense raised some eyebrows, but it was wasted face movement. WR Cody Core, RB Devin Thomas and WR Jordan Holder - all expected to contribute this year, were with the scout team. Normally, that means they are not going to play in the games. That's not the case with Freeze and his philosophy. "We will always service the defensive side of the ball by giving them a good look," Freeze responded. "Some of those guys definitely figure into our gameplans and will not redshirt, but we have to give our defense a real look to get ready for games. When we go to team drills, they will be included in the rotation if they have earned that designation in fall camp, which some of those guys have."

* OL D.J. Bailey (MCL sprain) was returned to practice today after missing a week.

* This week, Freeze explained, the Rebs will be working on the first gameplan. "We are going to see how our quarterbacks adjust to a gameplan. We are putting them against the scout team and giving them a look they will see - hopefully - in the game," Hugh noted. "Are they making the right reads and so on. In fall camp, we are going against the stuff we do on defense and you look at a play and the results and think that play is not going to work, but then you put in the stuff the opposition is doing on defense and it looks different. We decided to get a jump start on the gameplan today and the QBs made some good reads."

* Freeze's in-season practice attendance policy is to give the media the first seven periods of each practice and then shut it down until the end, when the media will be allowed to interview coaches and players.

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