Four Quarters

Even though the Ole Miss Rebels won their opener handily, an "awful" second quarter in the 49-27 win left Coach Hugh Freeze wanting more, like a four quarter effort. Read about it inside.

Football games are 60 minutes, not 45.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze discussed that fact after Thursday's practice.

"I want to see us play four quarters with good execution. We played an awful second quarter against Central Arkansas," said Freeze after Thursday's practice. "Just awful. People were doing their own thing, I called a terrible quarter and (Defensive Coordinator) Dave (Wommack) would say the same thing about his side of the ball.

"We didn't adjust quickly enough. I would like to se eus be very consistent, both as a staff and as players. We need to play disciplined football."

Freeze was pleased with two areas and would like to see those stay on course.

"We didn't have many penalties and we won the turnover battle. Those things need to continue," he noted. "We hurt ourselves and were not consistent."

It's a bit of a reach, but there is a silver lining in winning but not playing perfectly in the opener.

"With a young team, you can point things out the week after and get your point across more effectively," he added.

Unfortunately, the lessons did not carry over all week, as Hugh explained.

"We had great energy all week, but we were flat as can be today. That could be just me - the closer I get to Saturday, the tighter I am wound up," he smiled. "It's probably never as bad as you think or as good as you hope.

"We got some things fixed and came back and competed earlier this week. I give them a high grade for Tuesday and Wednesday, but today's effort knocked us down to about a 'C' for the week in preparations."

Jeff Scott
Ben Garrett

Freeze said the health of the team looks good, including TB Jeff Scott, who missed the opener with lower back issues.

"I don't know of anyone we will hold out right now," Freeze stated. "Jeff will get in the game pretty quickly, but (Randall) Mackey will get the start and we are not going to get Jeff involved in the return game this week."

Hitting on all cyliners for four quarters, Freeze believes emphatically, will be critical to the Rebs' success against UTEP.

"The speed of their defense is impressive and their tailback is a special player. Their offensive line is physical as well," he closed. "I keep coming back to their team speed on defense though. The speed they showed against Oklahoma was impressive to me."

Random Notes:

* In today's college football world, explosiveness and speed trump big most of the time. Who are the most explosive players on the Rebel squad? We put Rebel Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson on the hot seat to give us seven names, without the benefit of a roster at his fingertips. Why seven? No reason whatsoever, just a random number. Off the top of his head, he named freshman DT Issac Gross, senior DT Uriah Grant, RS frosh LB Denzel Nkemdiche, TB Randall Mackey, TB Jeff Scott, WR Donte Moncrief and DE C.J. Johnson. He admitted he could have missed one or two, but sounded fairly confident in his choices. He did add to ask him again in a couple of weeks.

* While OL Coach Matt Luke has tried some different personnel combinations this week in practice, based on the early signs of Thursday's practice, he will go with the same starting lineup across the front: LT Emmanuel McCray, LG Aaron Morris, C Evan Swindall, RG A.J. Hawkins and RT Pierce Burton. As was reported earlier in the week, he has also looked at Hawkins at center and moving Justin Bell to left guard and Morris to the right side. Freshman Center Ben Still is also in the picture for some PT.

* How vital have the true freshmen been in the coaches' plans so far? Consider this - two true frosh are being entrusted to handle kickoff return duties, a very critical job considering the massive momentum change that something going wrong there can cause. TB Jaylen Walton and S Trae Elston, for the second week in a row, will be deep on the kickoff return team. That's a lot of trust to place in the hands of two "rookies."

* The only player who did not practice Thursday was FS Ivan Nicholas, who had an earlier hamstring issue flare up on him again. He is expected to be available Saturday.

* As we reported Tuesday, it appears there will be two new faces in the starting lineup on the defensive front. DE Cameron Whigham will replace E.J. Epperson and DT Uriah Grant will replace Bryon Bennett. The other two slots, DE C.J. Johnson and DT Issac Gross, will remain the same. Epperson and Jason Jones head up the second unit at the DE slots and Bennett and Gilbert Pena have been running number two at the DT slots. DE Channing Ward and DTs Woodrow Hamilton and Carlton Martin are also expected to play.

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