Tonic

The Rebels are looking forward to getting to New Orleans to play Tulane to erase the memory of the Texas game. It's a chance for some redemption for the defense and some "cleaning up" for the offense.

Even though the Ole Miss football team has put the Texas game behind them and has practiced with high energy this week in preparation for Tulane, they still have an after taste of the game with the Longhorns and the only way to rid themselves completely is to play another game.

"We are anxious to get back out there and play," Coach Hugh Freeze said earlier in the week. "We have a lot of things to improve on from our last showing and this will be an opportunity."

Freeze meant no disrespect toward the Green Wave when he said that. In fact, he considers Tulane a major challenge if they play like they did against Rutgers.

But he knows the tonic for his team is to tee it up again, forever putting Texas in their rear view mirror.

"We all know we can do much better and this Saturday will be our chance to prove that," Freeze noted Wednesday. (Freeze is not available for comment on Thursdays.)

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner said there is no doubt what the point of emphasis was for his side of the ball this week.

"Protect the football," said Werner. "We talk about that all the time, we work on it all the time, but after a game like that, where we threw three interceptions, we have talked even more about making sure of our throws and if it is not there to throw it away or run it.

"The UTEP game, we fumbled it three times. We have to get out of that trend. We drill taking care of the ball all the time, every practice. We just have to get it in our heads that you can't win football games against good teams when you turn the ball over."


Bo Wallace
File Photo

Bo Wallace threw the three picks against Texas. Dan said it was not a mechanical issue.

"It was all decision-making. He knows he has to make better decisions, which goes back to not forcing a throw, throwing it away or running it," Werner added.

In the first half against Texas, the Rebels also gave up five sacks. In the second half, the protection was much better.

"A lot of it was we were in third-and-long a lot in the first half and we were not in the second half," he continued. "When you are in third-and-long, people can pin their ears back and come after you.

"The bottom line is that we have to do a better job on first downs. We have to execute better on first down and we have to be more selective with our playcalling. We do like to take shots, but if you take a shot, you can either make a big play or have a big play against you. We have to pick and choose when to take a shot and when we are trying to get three or four yards a pop on first down, we have to make sure we execute well and get it.

"You have to stay on schedule for the up tempo offense to work smoothly. That means, you have to be productive on first down."

Werner said Tulane has been a two-headed monster so far defensively.

"From what we have seen, they have been two different defensive teams. The first game against Rutgers, they were really good. The first half against Tulsa, they didn't play very good, but did in the second half," he noted. "Obviously, we hope we see the first-half Tulsa defense.

"When they are playing well, they look very good. We will have our hands full."

The Rebs enter the game with one weapon Tulane will have to prepare for and everyone is aware of now - WR Donte Moncrief.

"Anytime someone is as productive as he has been, people will take notice and they will either have to play off of him or kick an extra guy over the top, which opens up other guys," Werner closed.


Donte Moncrief
File Photo

Random Notes:

* DE E.J. Epperson missed practices Tuesday and Wednesday due to a class requirement in Jackson, but he was back at practice today and is expected to play a lot against Tulane. Freshman Channing Ward has been running with the first team in practice in E.J.'s absence, so it's unclear who will start the game, but both are expected to play a lot.

* Slot Korvic Neat was said to be "better" Thursday, but he is doubtful for the Tulane game. If he cannot go, Philander Moore will most likely take over punt return duties and he and Collins Moore will take up the slack at the slot. Collins, you will recall, is still in the testing phase of whether or not he will be able to play this year due to a dislocated shoulder in fall camp. He'll get his chance Saturday, for sure.

* DT Uriah Grant is also doubtful for Tulane. He had hand surgery earlier in the week. It is anticipated he will return, in a cast, against Alabama a week from Saturday. With DT Woodrow Hamilton also most likely sidelined with a high ankle sprain, that leaves the DT rotation in the hands of four players - Issac Gross, Carlton Martin, Bryon Bennett and Gilbert Pena.

* We heard the Rebels will wear Blue jerseys in the game. Tulane requested to wear white because they want to have a white out game in honor of injured player DeVon Walker.


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