Paraphrasing, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze said in Monday's press conference that any competitive athlete or coach would relish the opportunity to play the best team in the nation.
The Rebels are getting that chance Saturday in Tuscaloosa under the lights when they face top-ranked Alabama, a Crimson Tide team that is the defending national champ and has been running through their opponents this year like Isaac through the Gulf Coast.
Consequently, Tuesday's practice - at least the past the media is allowed to see - had a little different feel to it.
Sure, it was business as usual, but there seemed to be a little more focus, a little more intensity and a little more pep in their step.
"We let the defense go live in an early period and they looked good. It was a good start for the week," said Freeze. "The kids who have been in this league for a year or two understand what we are facing quite clearly. The younger ones don't know what to expect, but they'll find out Saturday night there is a different level of excitement, energy and intensity."
QB Bo Wallace rested his sore shoulder today and Barry Brunetti took the first team reps in his absence.
"He was up and down," said Freeze. "We just have to get him more consistent in the passing game. Hopefully, we'll get him there. We will watch film with him and make sure we get all his questions answered and get him schooled up. He also threw some good balls, but overall, up and down."
* The Rebels have not played in a hostile venue yet this season, but they are about to encounter one of the most hostile (read: loud) in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no way to simulate the decibel level Ole Miss will face with 100,000-plus fans in the stands, but they are doing what they can by using crowd noise during practice. Big studio monitor speakers are being loaded on a golf cart, the cart is being backed up to within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field, and the crowd noise (Alabama specific, by the way) is being turned up. It is loud enough to be distracting, which is as close as you can get to the real deal.
* Every injured player from last week was dressed out, but not all were full speed, nor were they expected to be. Slot Korvic Neat (groin) did very little in the practice session and is questionable for the Alabama game. "I'm not optimistic about him this week. If swe irritate it, it could become long term. I just want him well," Hugh assessed. . . QB Bo Wallace (shoulder) mostly observed while Brunetti and Maikhail Miller ran the offense. Obviously Wallace needs more rest after stating Monday he is "very sore and had very little range of motion." Bo, however, did feel confident in saying he would be ready for the game Saturday. Meanwhile, mental reps are his outlet to prepare. "Bo could have done some stuff today - he wanted to, but we told him no," said Freeze. "We will probably start working him in some tomorrow. He was itching to go today, so we'll probably get him reps tomorrow." . . DT Uriah Grant, who had hand surgery last week, was dressed out and his hand had what looked like a light cast on it, maybe a splint. We did not see him go through any full contact work, but he was participating in all individual drills and is expected to play against the Tide. "Urish looks fine. We just have to get him satisfied with what he is going to wear on his hand. He's being hard to please with that," Freeze laughed. . . DT Woodrow Hamilton (ankle sprain) was dressed out but was also limited in his full-speed action. "Woody has a chance to play Saturday, but he wasn't ready today in terms of live work," Hugh noted.
* There were no major depth chart moves from the Tulane game. Trae Elston remains the starter at Rover, Cody Prewitt at free safety, Charles Sawyer and Wesley Pendleton worked as the first team cornerbacks, Issac Gross and Carlton Martin took first team reps at the DT slots, Mike Marry and Denzel Nkemdiche manned the linebacker positions, Dehendret Collins was at Husky and C.J. Johnson and Jason Jones were the top defensive ends today.
* Freeze said in August he would tighten up media viewing when the SEC schedule rolled around and he was true to his word. Up until this week, the media was allowed to watch the first seven periods of practice. That has been scaled back to the first four. The free flow of information will become more scarce. No objection here.