Last Hoorah

Ole Miss held their last full-speed bowl practice, and practice for the 2012 season, at Birmingham Southern College Thursday and it was a time for work, fun and reflection. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze slumped his head a little and looked a little emotional at the end of Thursday's practice at Birmingham Southern when asked his level of pride for how far the Rebel program has come in the past 12 months.

Freeze took over a football program in disarray and in one year has his squad bowling and has a fan base excited about the direction they are going and of things to come.

"It's exciting to see the fun back in Ole Miss football, winning has a lot to do with that, but we are certainly proud of what we have accomplished," he said. "It is rewarding to see the unity and togetherness we have been able to establish and the excitement we have created in our fan base. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing we are going to have a huge throng of Rebel fans here Saturday.

"I am particularly happy for these seniors. For them to be able to go out on a good note after what they have been through, and having put their trust and belief in us, is definitely a source of pride."

The Rebels worked out in helmets and warmups on this brisk Alabama day. Freeze did not have a whole to say about the workout - everyone is antsy and ready to play a game.

Freeze did not have a lot to say about the final full-speed workout of the 2012 season. Everyone, including him, is antsy, ready for a game.

"We went seven practices before Christmas and seven more after - it's time to play," he said. "I think the kids have responded well to the schedule and have done what we've asked.

Channing Ward
Chuck Rounsaville

"I'll say Bo (Wallace) looked sharper today. He seemed to have a little more zip on the ball. He'll be ready to go."

Freeze said it will be important to score touchdowns when the opportunity arises against Pittsburgh.

"They don't turn the ball over much at all. We have talked about that all week. We lost a couple of games this year because we had to kick field goals and didn't score TDs, so we know we have to finish drives because Pitt is not going to make it easy. They take care of the ball and finish their drives, so we will have to as well," he noted.

Freeze has not put the hammer down on the Rebs in Birmingham.

"We have worked hard during our practices and meetings, but we've tried to stay away from them and give them some space to have some fun too," he explained. "Now, it's time to get back to being together and getting tuned in and focused more on the game."

Random Notes:

* Strength & Conditioning Coach Paul Jackson was looking intently as some of the younger players on the squad at Thursday's practice. "They are starting to blow up some now," he said. "It usually takes about a semester for the new guys to really understand what it takes on this level and to get how we do things and that there are no shortcuts," said Jackson. "I can really tell a difference in the work ethic from when they first got here and didn't know anything until now. Guys like Channing Ward, Issac Gross, Mike Hilton, Trae Elston, I'tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton, Cody Core and some more are showing excellent progress and they should really start seeing big gains in the offseason in their strength levels and body composition. I can see it in some of them already. It's exciting to think about that first offseason for a young player who is willing to put in the effort to get better and these guys are willing to do that."

* Freeze said WR Donte Moncrief has not let the "Feed Moncrief" frenzy go to his head. "He's the same as he has always been," said Hugh. "He's intense and serious about his craft. The way that all evolved has been pretty cool to me. If he hadn't played well, Feed Moncrief would have fizzled, but he did and it exploded. It's good to see because he is a great kid." WR Coach Grant Heard echoed those sentiments. "I didn't realize how intense Donte was when I first got here, but he is really tuned in at practice and in the games," Heard noted. "You can tell by the way he blocks. The really good ones sometimes think they don't have to excel in the blocking game, but the great ones know you have to. Donte loves to block and that's why I think he will be a great one in time. Right now, he's really god. If he cleans up some little things, he will be great. And what I like is that his intensity and work ethic is contagious. Vincent Sanders and Donte compete to see who can knock down a DB first. It's fun to watch them compete and try to best each other."

* It looks like the only casualties for the game will be freshman CB Anthony Standifer (knee) and RB Nick Parker (eye surgery). The rest of the players appear to be fit and ready to go against the Panthers.

* There will be a press conference at Legion Field tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. and then the Rebs are scheduled for their walk-through practice there.

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