Contact Day

The Rebels started Wednesday's heavy contact practice outside, but seven periods in on the hot, humid day, lightning started flashing and the Rebs scurried inside the IPF to finish their workout. Read about it inside.

Wednesday's are usual the "toughest" practice days of a game week and this one was no different, despite having to change venues midstream.

On this hot and muggy day, the Rebels had just gotten a lather worked up on the practice fields when lightning drove them into the safe confines of the Indoor Pratice Facility.

As every coach before him since the facility was built in 2004, Coach Hugh Freeze was pleased to have an indoor practice field to utilize in such cases.

"What can I say? How wonderful is it to have this facility to take refuge in when the weather gets nasty? It's invaluable," noted Hugh.

But back at the business at hand - getting ready for the UTEP Miners. Whether indoors or outdoors, there's work to be done.

"I was hoping we could stay outside today, we had a good breeze and good humidity (sarcasm), but I don't like fooling with lightning," noted Freeze. "Our kids had good energy and I think we have a good plan.

Freeze has discussed the Miners' defense quite a bit this week, but hasn't talked about the UTEP offense much.

"It depends on if you watch this year or last year," he sighed. "This year, it looks like they have decided they are going to line up with two tight ends and pound the ball, run zone and use play pass. Their tailback is very impressive - he rushed for 177 yards against Oklahoma, a very talented team.

"Since they proved to themselves they can do it against a team like the Sooners, you would think they would line up and do it again, but we have to prepare for what they did last year, which was throwing it around the yard. It's a guessing game and we are planning for both.

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

"They have a big, good, physical offensive line, but the bottom line is that we have to prepare for a run attack and spreading it around in the air."

UTEP Coach Mile Price is kind of known for throwing the ball a lot, so that is what the Rebel coaches designed their early gameplan on.

Adjustment time.

"In the summer, we always kind of prepare for the first three games off film from last year and what they did in the opener," he noted. "It looked quite different, to say the least. But that's why they coach and we coach and I am sure there are things we have they haven't seen and we aren't exactly sure which direction they will go in until the game gets underway.

"Defensively, we had to adjust our original gameplan to prepare for what they did against Oklahoma.

"We have a mixture of personnel groupings ready. We feel we can go bigger if we need to. We will have our 4-3 stuff ready to go if we need it."

Random Notes:

* It looks as if the redshirt tag may come off of true freshman Cornerback Anthony Standifer. "He's gotten better in a hurry and I think we are going to need him," Freeze explained. "This year, we can't afford to hold someone if we think they can help and right now, we think Anthony can." Standifer was lining up with the number two defense on Wednesday behind senior CB Wesley Pendleton.

* Tight End Jamal Mosley sat out Tuesday's practice with a bum ankle, but he was full go on Wednesday. The ankle was taped, but he did not seem to be favoring it at all in the early going of practice. Good news. Jamal had four big catches against UCA in the opener.

* It appears as though Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke is continuing to explore different combinations on the OL. Wednesday, he had A.J. Hawkins playing center some in place of Evan Swindall and Justin Bell taking A.J.'s place at right guard. Aaron Morris at LG, Emmanuel McCray at LT and Pierce Burton at RT stayed the same. Swindall also worked a good bit with the ones with Hawkins at right guard. Hawkins has played center before in his career. The issue Bell has to overcome to become more effective is his pass protection sets and efficiency. He is solid in run blocking.

* Sophomore TB Jeff Scott put in his second full-speed practice in a row, which has Freeze predicting an appearance by the speedster, who missed the opener with lower back issues. "He looked good. I think he's ready," said Freeze.

* It looks as if DT Uriah Grant's steady play against UCA has earned him a promotion. Wednesday, he was teamed with freshman Issac Gross at the DT slots with the number one defense. Grant has only been back at practice for less than two weeks after spending the summer and most of fall camp rehabbing offseason shoulder surgery.

* Also on the DL, it looks like DE Cameron Whigham is getting a hard look in front of E.J. Epperson, who started the opener opposite DE C.J. Johnson. "I had a good game against UCA. I moved down in camp and had to work harder," said Whigham. "I wasn't giving it my all. Other players were working harder than me and earned the position. Lesson learned. I am working harder now." Whigham is looking forward to UTEP.

Cameron Whigham
Chuck Rounsaville

"They surprised our coaches with what they did in their opener, so we had to change our gameplan to match their power game," he continued. "They still show spread formations, but they run with two tight ends and run it more. They have big, hard-working offensive linemen, but we think we can beat them with our speed."

* In some sets, it appeared as if Stinger LB Denzel Nkemdiche was getting a look at the Husky slot and Dehendret Collins, who started at Husky against UCA, was working at cornerback.

* Big OT Terrell Brown is likely to miss the UTEP game due to a knee sprain. He's expected to be out a week. Terrell is on the number one field goal/PAT unit at right end. No word yet on who will take his place if he cannot dress out Saturday.

* With the redshirt off freshman WR Cody Core, WR Coach Grant Heard is looking for ways to utilize him more. That may be difficult for a few games because currently the three-man rotation of Donte Moncrief, Ja-Mes Logan and Vincent Sanders will be hard to crack on the outside and the coaches have opted to use, for now, the tight ends in the slot when they go to four-wide (10 personnel) groupings. Cody has the same raw skill level as the other three, basically, but like all true frosh, he is proned to make too many mistakes at this juncture of his career. When he gets everything down mentally, look for him to get more reps.

* Even though he got 24 snaps in his first game as a collegiate, expect Safety Trae Elston to continue to get more work as the weeks click by. As the coaches like to say, talent-wise, "he's what you are looking for."

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