Year Two

Cody Core said last year was a confidence boost for him. This year he wants to help the Ole Miss Rebels even more.

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Last season he played in all 13 games as a true freshman, on special teams and at receiver. He only caught one pass but got some valuable playing time. On special teams he was in on or made eight tackles.

This year he senses he'll be in on more of the action. At least that's what he's worked for, although there is stout competition and depth at the receiver position.

"Practice has been good for the whole receivers group," he said. "We're working on our craft, getting all the right routes, and helping the freshmen out."

Speaking of those talented freshmen, Core likes what he's seen.

"They're doing well and learning fast," he said. "There are some concepts that are messing them up. They've just got to take it play after play, one at a time. And time will help them a lot."

Vincent Sanders, a fellow receiver mate of Core, suffered a broken collar bone Saturday morning in practice. Core said the depth at the position showed then when others stepped in.

"One guy goes down, they moved Ja-Mes Logan outside. Quon (Treadwell) got a lot more reps inside. Me and Donte (Moncrief) shared, so we've just got to keep working."

As for himself, the 6-foot-3, 191-pound Core said he heads into year two with more belief in what he can accomplish.

"I'm very confident. You can't play not confident," he said. "You have to do what you've got to do and be confident to accomplish what you want to accomplish."

And the limited action he saw last season still was an asset to his progress since then, through spring and the offseason.

"That helped a lot, getting the feel of college football and how this atmosphere is," Core said. "On special teams it helped a lot and playing receiver, things like getting plays in from the sidelines."

Second Time Around

Chief Brown is another sophomore, albeit of the redshirt variety, who got his feet wet as a freshman in 2012. He said the secondary is coming along nicely and he likes what's happening back there.

Chief Brown
Chuck Rounsaville

"Right now we're rotating guys. But we're getting better back there," said the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder. "We're not going to be thin back there long, and we're working to get it two-deep."

Brown said the defense is well aware of the problems it had giving up the long ball last season. It's been a point of emphasis heading into this season.

"We talked about that yesterday," he said. "We had about 53 big plays (on us) last year. If we cut that in half, we'd be a top 10 defense in the nation. That's what we're trying to do right now and that is eliminate the big plays and try to get off the field more on third down."

Those late-play losses against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and LSU kept the Ole Miss season of 7-6 from being even more special. But Brown said he believes across the board things are better.

"I would say every player has taken a big step. Everybody wants to be better. We've had good workouts. All the freshmen have come in and worked hard," he said. "Everybody is trying to have a big role on the field and take our team to a SEC Championship. That's the goal every year. But we're just taking it one game at a time and trying to win every game we play."

He said the team is especially looking forward to the season opener in four weeks at Vanderbilt.

"I love it," he said of opening on the road against a conference foe. "We think about it every day, since that one blown coverage (that cost them the Vandy game in Oxford last season). We're just trying to go out there and to win games. To open up with a SEC game makes it even more important."

Brown likes how the defense has come together as a unit this year since ending the season strongly last season. He attributes that to several things.

"I think we made great progress last year. Just learning the defense game by game," he said. "Coach (Dave) Wommack and his entire defensive staff helped us out so much. We improved as the season went along, and now we have high expectations since we know the defense in and out now."

Brown said the Rebels aren't resting on the fact that there is renewed enthusiasm and confidence following the 7-6 bowl season of 2012. He said they know there is a lot of work yet to be done and much to be accomplished.

"Last year doesn't matter. This is a new season. We plan on going up and improving on last year.

"The secondary is very competitive," Brown continued. "There are multiple guys who go out there and compete. The secondary is where a lot of competition is on defense, but there's really competition everywhere on this team."

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