Back To Work

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze let the players off for a couple of days (Friday, Saturday, part of Sunday) at the end of the open week and now it's time to get ready for Arkansas. Tuesday's practice was back-to-work day.

After a much-needed break and rest, and some even a visit home over the weekend, the 4-3 Rebels got back to business Tuesday afternoon with a 2-hour-workout on the practice fields on a beautiful Oxford day.

"We were a little sluggish at first. The attitude was good, but we were not real sharp. As practice went on, we picked it up," said Coach Hugh Freeze.

The Rebels will be facing a potent passing attack in Tyler Wilson to a plethora of capable receivers. The grade so far on the Rebel pass coverage, Freeze noted, has been "average."

"We have struggled at times to be in good position against good receivers, especially when routes are thrown on time," he stated. "I do think we have gotten better, but when you are facing someone like Arkansas, it's a concern."

One player who has emerged lately after an early-season slump is CB Senquez Golson, who won the starting job in fall camp and then lost it for a few games and has now regained it.

"He's more confident in what we are doing and understanding how things need to be done," Freeze surmised. "He's now at the field corner and we are leaving him there. It's a different technique from the boundary corner and I think he's more confident there."

Two stalwarts in the defensive secondary were noticeably missing from Tuesday's practice - CB Charles Sawyer (ankle) and Rover Trae Elston (knee). Freeze said he expects them back in the fold tomorrow.

C.J. Johnson
File Photo

"They probably could have gone today, but I wanted to hold them out today. I fully expect them to be ready to go Saturday. There is no structural damage with Trae's knee," he said. "I'm just trying to take precautions to make sure we are as healthy as possible for this last stretch run."

Random Notes:

* LB Denzel Nkemdiche has emerged as an up-and-coming leader on the defensive unit, despite his redshirt freshman status. "I've just tried to improve as a player, a person, a teammate and a brother to my teammates," he said. "It has come fast, and it's crazy, but I think I have earned a certain amount of respect. We are all in this together and I'm just trying to be the best me I can be. So far, things have worked out well, but we have to keep going."

* Part of the plan during the open week was to let some players heal from 11 weeks of bumps and bruises without a break. Here's a recap: DB Mike Hilton was held out of practice last week due to a concussion he got in the Auburn game. He returned to full-speed practice Tuesday. "He had a real good practice and is full go now," Freeze said. . . . DT Woodrow Hamitlon, hampered with a high ankle sprain for nearly a month now, did not practice. He is still being held out. . . DE C.J. Johnson, who sat out last week with a minor lower back injury, returned to the fold and was full speed Tuesday. . . Slot Receiver Philander Moore, who missed one day of practice last week with a foot issue, was back at practice. . . TE Jamal Mosley, who sat out last week with fluid on his knee, was dressed out and participating in practice. . . Slot Receiver Korvic Neat, who missed a couple of weeks with a groin injury but played against Auburn at about 85%, appears to be full bore now.

* DT Uriah Grant broke his hand four weeks ago and had to undergo surgery. Apparently, he's back in form now. He's working with the number one DL with NT Issac Gross and DEs Cameron Whigham and C.J. Johnson.

Jamal Mosley
File Photo

* With the emergence of Mike Hilton, and the lack of depth at the safety slots, Brishen Mathews, as Freeze noted in Monday's press conference, will play some Rover behind Trae Elston and some Husky behind Dehendret Collins and Hilton. "I look for Brishen to adjust quickly. He's sharp and has played the position before," Hugh added.

* From some of the rotations we witnessed in the early part of Tuesday's practice, it looks as if Hilton will not be the only one to get more looks Saturday. Frosh Safety Quintavius Burdette also looks to be figuring into the plans this week against Arkansas' high-powered aerial attack. It's still early in the week, so that is not concrete, but playing more seems to be in the cards for Burdette so far this week.

* QB Bo Wallace was able to go home this weekend and visit his sister, Baylee, who had a bad car accident a couple of weeks ago and had to have neck surgery. He was happy to report she is making good progress in her long, tedious rehab.

* As Freeze mentioned in Monday's presser, Husky Dehendret Collins was suspended for the Auburn game for undisclosed reasons, or as Freeze put it, "making a bad decision and paying the price." All is forgotten now. Dehendret was lined up with the first team defense in Tuesday's workout.

* The big JBL studio monitor speakers were loaded up on a golf cart and trailed behind the offense in team drills at full volume to simulate the crowd noise of War Memorial Stadium. Already tired of "Sooooiiiiieee, Pigs. . . Razorbacks" and it's only Tuesday.

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