Open, Not Off, Week

When things started dragging a little early during practice Tuesday, Coach Hugh Freeze blew his whistle to get everyone's attention. "This is an open week, not an off week," he reminded them. Things picked up from there the remainder of the workout in the stadium.

"We got some good special teams work in today. Instead of full team work, we got back to some individual stuff and specific techniques. We will emphasize that every day this week to try to improve some of those areas," said Freeze. "Overall, our energy was good. I was concerned, you know, because kids look at it as an off week instead of an open week.

"It's a open week, not an off week. There is work to be done. I was very pleased with their attitude and the work they got done. We had a good workout in the weight room today and good work in practice."

Freeze said he can feel a different air around the team, around campus and from fans after the SEC win over Auburn Saturday.

"I can feel more confidence from our fans and around campus, so naturally that has got to help build confidence with our kids," he noted. "It's not something we are going to sit down and have a conversation about, but it certainly feels like there is more pep in our step. Not having to hear we haven't won an SEC game will certainly help as well."

Mention of a bowl game came up and Hugh cut that talk off quickly.

"We will not talk about that, not at all," he said.

There has been a positive impact on recruiting from the victory as well, Freeze believes.

"I was on the road speaking last night, but I called and checked on the coaches who made calls Monday night and they felt really good about the conversations," he added. "We will hit the road Thursday and Friday and we'll get a better sense of it, but I know it's good to go out recruiting after a win.

C.J. Johnson
File Photo

"I think it is very important to get some wins to show recruits. You don't have a legitimate shot for some of the higher-profile guys if you don't pull off some wins," Hugh evaluated. "I don't think there is a certain number of wins to get in the game, because we are in with some really good recruits, but I do think they need to see a very competitive team against the good teams and I think we have given them some signs of that. That helps."

Freeze also believes having a full year to work on recruiting and develop relationships with recruits and their families has made a difference.

"Last year, it was hard to get in. If you don't have a developed relationship or a go-to person in that process, it's hard to feel real confident. That is something that can only be developed over the course of a year, or longer, so I definitely feel different about recruiting than I did last year," he stated. "We are nowhere near the end, but we know all the players in the recruitment of the guys we are in on."

Random Notes:

* We got word today that Bo Wallace's 17-year old sister, Baylee, who had a bad car accident last week and had to have neck surgery, is back at home and is walking now. Her parents have moved her bedroom downstairs so she doesn't have to walk the stairs, but she is moving about well, all things considered.

* The three-deep in front of Punter Jim Broadway as a last line of defense has been Mike Marry, Ferbia Allen and Jason Jones. The Rebel coaches are experimenting with going bigger, possibly, putting Gilbert Pena back with Marry and Allen.

* Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson was beyond excited Tuesday afternoon with the weight room workout the Rebels put in Tuesday morning and early afternoon. "I figured they would be a little rusty and not very focused, but they were just the opposite," he said. "They attacked that room like they were on a mission. A super workout, one of the best we have ever had. They were very, very focused as a group."

* DB Mike Hilton (concussion) was jogging some at practice today. "He's got one more test to pass and then he'll be good to go, probably later this week," said Freeze.

Carlos Thompson
File Photo

* TE Jamal Mosley (knee) did not practice Tuesday. "Jamal's knee is something we will probably have to nurse the rest of the season. He will play, but he will be limited some in practice each week," Hugh said.

* OG Justin Bell (back) returned to practice Tuesday and went through all drills.

* DE C.J. Johnson (lower back) sat out today and might sit out the whole week. C.J. injured his back in a freakish way before the Auburn game in the locker room. He was bent over picking up his pads and felt a pain in his back. He played against Auburn but he said he knew something was wrong. Rest is required and he will get that this week.

* OG Aaron Morris (hand/wrist) practices full speed Tuesday and went through all drills, including contact drills and drills where he had to use his hands to "punch" a defensive lineman. He showed no lingering affects of the injury against Auburn.

* DT Woodrow Hamilton (high ankle sprain) did not practice and will be rested the rest of the open week. The hope is he will return for practice next week. He tried to practice one day last week and tweaked the ankle again, setting his return back a few days.

* Safety Tanner Burns (meniscus, surgery last week) is trying to make a comeback. He ran some today and is hoping for a return in time for the Georgia game in Athens.

* DE Jason Jones (leg bruise) dressed out today but was limited in practice. He should return to practice tomorrow or Thursday.

* A player who is getting good reviews in making the most of his redshirt opportunity is DE Carlos Thompson. Jackson said he is up to nearly 250 pounds and is working hard in the weight room. He's also doing very well on the scout team in practice. He seems to have matured in his approach to football during his redshirt experience.

* Redshirt Temario Strong is also showing up daily on the scout team, but you never know where he will be playing. Today, he played nose tackle. He has also played linebacker, defensive end and some safety and is doing so willingly.

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