All Hands On Deck?

Some of the Rebs have been limping around a little this week, unsure if they would be able to play against LSU, but it looks as if most will make the trip to Baton Rouge and give it a go.

Coach Hugh Freeze mentioned after Wednesday's practice that the staff would have to make some decisions on whether or not to travel some of the walking wounded to Baton Rouge.

It appears as if most, if not all, will give it a go.

In Thursday's practice, DE C.J. Johnson (neck) and DT Issac Gross (groin) sat out again, along with TE Ferbia Allen (MCL, out) and CB Wesley Pendleton (ankle, questionable).

CB Senquez Golson was declared ready, which takes a little pressure off the secondary.

Freeze, who is not available for comment on Thursday's, had given some thought to holding some of the "afflicted" out, but based on the early periods of Thursday's workout, that idea has been, at least partially, shelved.

We shall see. . . .

In the meantime, Linebackers Coach Tom Allen knows his crew has their hands full with LSU's offense - a downhill, power running team that has suddenly come into its own in the passing game as well.

"They have recently become two-dimensional. Their quarterback has come around and so has their passing," said Allen. "As a result, it puts my guys, the LBs, in conflict. They have changed the way you play them.

"You have always had to put an extra safety in the box to slow down the run game because they are big and physical. That puts pressure on your back end to go a lot of man in coverage. When the QB is not throwing the ball well, you can cheat a little for the run, but when he is throwing well, it keeps you honest. He is throwing well now. It's a numbers game and that's our challenge."

Allen said what they do is not complicated. It's straight forward.

"They don't try to trick you. Vandy tries to confuse and give multiple looks. With these guys, it's strap it up and get it on. They come right at you. When you overload, they throw the football," he explained.

Tom Allen
File Photo

The Rebell linebackers, except Mike Marry, are on the small side. So how do they combat the straight-at-you attack?

"It's all about angles. You have to get a great first read and take good angles. If you take a bad angle, you can't recover when you are undersized," he continued. "Our scheme, though, is built for undersized guys. We spill everything and use our speed to scrape over the top.

"If we play the scheme and use the proper angles, we can get to the football. We will have to play really physical and really fast, and I think we have done that most of this season. I know we have improved in both areas quite a bit. Our guys are seeing things better with the experience they have gotten and that has led to more success."

Allen said Serderius Bryant and Keith Lewis have started to come on stronger of late.

"Joel Kight, Mike Marry and Denzel Nkemdiche has done well, but now we are seeing Serderius and Keith come on. Keith missed spring football and just needed reps. Serderius just needed to learn to play within the system," Tom closed. "Now that both of them are doing better, we can rotate guys in and keep them all fresh, which should help against a team like LSU with all their depth."

Random Notes:

* Senior LB Joel Kight, whose role has expanded as this season has progressed, has been to Death Valley before and appreciates the atmosphere. "They are one of the better teams in the SEC and the game will be in a great atmosphere," said Kight. "That's exciting for an athlete, to play in those kinds of venues.". . . Kight said the Rebs' charge will be to slow down the vaunted Tiger rushing attack. "We have to stop the run to make them pass. They have some very talented running backs and a good offensive line, so it won't be easy, but that is the goal," he noted. "We will rotate guys in there to stay fresh, because they rotate several backs who are big and strong and like to get downhill. We just have to get after them.". . . Joel said the Rebels have put last week behind them. "Our coaches have helped us to forget it and when you have been through good times and bad times before, you learn to handle it," he closed. "I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in my career. It's like life - you have to take the good with the bad. I have no regrets with my career. I love Ole Miss. I just want to go out on a winning note so we can look back and say we laid the foundation for a great program."

* DT Gilbert Pena has had a solid year and has worked himself into being a solid, reliable part of the DT rotation. "I think we have done a good job against the run to this point. Our coaches give us good schemes to fit the opposing run games and it's up to us to execute," he stated. "I like how hard all the guys up front have played. Since Texas, nobody has really run over us. Alabama didn't. Georgia didn't. We have really cut down on the explosive plays and that's how we need to finish the season - playing solid and hard."

* Junior CB Charles Sawyer is anxious for another game after the abrupt, disappointing loss to the Commodores in which he and S Cody Prewitt miscommunicated and allowed the winning VU TD pass. "We have a lot of belief in each other and in our coaches. We know if we do what we are supposed to do we will come out on top," said Sawyer. "We played a pretty good game last week except that last play when we just didn't get on the same page. Communication is so important and we just didn't get it right that time. I want to make up for that this week. It was a critical mistake at the most important time - frustrating. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger - we will get it right."

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