Moving On

Hugh Freeze said his team had a good workout Monday morning. He said they should have coming off a win and having six days off since.

"They looked at me crazy," Freeze said of his players when he mentioned that to them. "I told them they had Friday afternoon, Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night...actually about eight days off."

Such is the upbeat demeanor of a coach and his program after an important win like the one at Vanderbilt last Thursday night.

"It was good to get them back together this morning," Freeze said. "Their attitude was great. Practice was really good. They understand from watching film there's a lot of improvement that needs to take place. We're pleased to win an SEC road game, especially battling back several times and playing hard for 60 minutes. We made mistakes but we're getting them corrected."

Freeze Notes:

On preparing for SEMO at home after a big win: "It was an emotional game (at Vandy), but we were really clear with them Friday. When you win a game like that, it's a chance to be harder on them concerning the mistakes than if you lose those games. This is going to haunt us if we don't get it fixed. They looked focus today. I was pleased with practice."

On Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson: "Laremy (graded) extremely high. Austin was about average on the grades. His effort was phenomenal."

On D.T. Shackelford's first game back: "Pleased. We've shuffled him around. We've divided the season into three parts. The first is through the open week. After the open week, we've got to be settled on where everybody is going to play. We'd moved DT to defensive end. Now with the injury (to Denzel Nkemdiche), we've got to slide Keith (Lewis) back over, and move (DT) back to Mike. And Serderius (Bryant) didn't make the trip. (DT) made a few mistakes on his fits but played with phenomenal effort. He'll be fine."

On the improvement of having no sacks in the second half after four in the first: "We got beat in the first half on some one on one battles. They have a mature D-Line. Not demeaning our guys, but a mature defensive line is going to win some one on ones, especially in third and long. In the second half, they had to worry about the run game. And we got in our tempo game."

Justin Bell
File Photo

On corner play: I think when Senquez (Golson) can go, we're much better at the field corner. He's played it before. We tried some kids who had never played snaps. I think they're going to be good. We've got to get Charles (Sawyer) healthy. We've got to move some people around over there and be solid there.

Bell Tolls:

Justin Bell and his offensive line teammates are going to have to step it up even more now that one of their stalwarts has been lost to injury for the season.

Aaron Morris had started at left guard against Vanderbilt but was injured and is done for the campaign. Bell started at right guard.

There were few injuries last season, especially along the offensive front. Now after only a game, there's one who won't be back the rest of this season.

"He's like my brother, and you never want that to happen to anyone," said Bell of Morris. "I know he's dealing with so many emotions internally. I told him to stay strong."

Bell said the Rebels' front line will move forward. Freeze mentioned several other offensive linemen that will step up, players like Bell, Patrick Junen, Austin Golson, Jared Duke, and Emmanuel McCray.

"Duke had a good game," Bell said. "You saw me playing a lot of left, and I do play both guards. Duke will do a good job. Austin Golson did a good job as a freshman. We do have depth, and that's one thing we have this season that we didn't have last season."

But Bell said Morris will be missed.

"Of course we need (Morris') athletic ability," said the sophomore from Jackson. "He's a great athlete."

As for his own performance against the Commodores, Bell said, "I felt pretty good. I felt I gave it all for my team and graded out decent. There's always room for improvement. But I felt like I had a pretty good game."

Freeze gave an update on Denzel Nkemdiche's status.

Evan Engram
Chuck Rounsaville

"Denzel took (the news) hard but he'll be back. Worst case six weeks. Best case four weeks," Freeze said.

Evaluating Engram:

Freshman tight end Evan Engram introduced himself to a national audience at Vanderbilt. He finished the game tied with two others with five catches. His 61 yards were second.

"He's a stud," quarterback Bo Wallace said. "He had a great game, just keep building on that. He's a huge playmaker in our offense. He creates mismatches for us."

Unlike much of his recruiting class, ranked top-10 across all services, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Engram held but a few offers. While a number of top-level programs showed interest, Ole Miss was one of his few high-profile offers.

"He was highly rated to us," Freeze said.

But he wasn't offered immediately off film. Ole Miss asked Engram to come to a summer camp so he could be evaluated in person.

"I immediately offered him after we watched him at camp," Freeze said. "He was a natural route-runner. Tremendous hands. We felt like he could get bigger, and he will in time. He's not as big as we'd like him to be right now. What you saw Thursday is what we saw in camp. He's a ball player. He's got big-play ability and knows how to use his body to get open."

Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt in the final minute. Jeff Scott scored on a 75-yard run with 1:07 left, but two plays after Vanderbilt had scored what appeared to be a game-winning touchdown.

Scott was sprung free by junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief and, you guessed it, Engram.

"As soon as he was here, 7-on-7, we saw how good of a receiver he was going to be," Wallace said. "As small as he was, I was kind of worried about his blocking. But as you saw (against Vanderbilt), he did a great job."

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