Texas Time

Not many - if any at all - Rebels have forgotten the waxing the Texas Longhorns put on the Rebels last year in Oxford. Guess what? It's Texas week again and the Rebels started their game preparations with a Tuesday Manning Center practice due to rainy weather in the Oxford area.

"I'm glad we came inside," Coach Hugh Freeze joked as the met the press after Tuesday's practice in the Manning Center. "We were told it was just going to be a spotty rain, but the bottom fell out.

"We had a good practice. I spent most of my time today on the offensive end to make sure we are doing all the things I want to do in this game properly, but the defense looked like they were flying around too.

"I thought we hopped around and had good energy. I think the kids understand we have to raise the level of our attention to detail and put a little more into practice. We are stepping up in a big way."

Freeze mentioned at Monday's press conference that Texas changing defensive coordinators put him and his offensive staff in an "uncomfortable situation." After a couple of days to absorb everything, does he still feel that way?

"We have to be who we are. We can't change what we are. When you are calling plays, you'd like to have a feel for what you think they will do, especially on third downs and Red Zone, and that's a little bit of a mystery," he continued. "We'll just try to go faster probably. We'll get a feel for it, I think.

"When he was with the DB coach at Texas the first time, he liked to play a lot of cover one and we will prepare for that, but we still don't know what their plan will be. You would think they would like to insert their personality, but the biggest concerns are what they will try to do on third down and in the Red Zone. There are only so many things they can do against what we do out in the middle of the field."

Obviously, the Rebs have leaned heavily on several true freshmen so far. What is Freeze's comfort level with those guys after two games?

Charles Sawyer
Chuck Rounsaville

"Real high on Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson. They are playing well. Laquon (Treadwell) and Quincy (Adeboyejo) and Evan (Engram) are also doing well, but sometimes we'll want to tweak something in the middle of a game and that's just not real easy for them yet," he said. "They still make mistakes, but I have great comfort level in going to them."

The Rebel offense is first in the SEC in offensive plays run and 12th in the nation. That surprises Freeze a little.

"I haven't thought we have really gone that fast yet, but anytime you are averaging over 80 plays, you are clicking along pretty good. We just need to keep moving the chains," he stated.

After three days to reflect on his feelings about the SEMO game, where he stated there was was a lack of passion in the play of some of the backups, Freeze said it probably wasn't as bad as he indicated in the press conference immediately following the game Saturday night.

"It probably is never as bad as you think. There was just a mixture of twos and threes out there and it's was hard for them to have any chemistry. I thought it was good for us though," he said. "I guess what I was upset about right after the game was that we were driving a couple of times and turned the ball over needlessly. That irked me.

"Playing like we did, though, may help us focus a bit more this week."

Random Notes:

* Sophomore TB I'tavius Mathers had a couple of carries last Saturday against SEMO that made fans sit up and take notice. He made defenders miss in the hole, he broke a couple of tackles and showed some "wiggle" in his stride. Freeze said in Monday's presser that Mathers still isn't 100%, but the coaches took notice of his production as well. It would not be surprising to see him get more chances against Texas this weekend, particularly if his ankle continues to improve. Mathers was a prime example of what the coaches wanted out of that non-conference game - to see who can and who can't. I'Tavius can.

* RT Pierce Burton indicated to us at Monday's press conference that the ankle he injured in the SEMO game would not stop him from playing against the Longhorns. That didn't mean he would practice all week. The talented senior rested his ankle in practice today and did not participate. "He will be fine - we are just resting him," said Freeze. . . . In his absence, freshman Laremy Tunsil took over the left tackle slot and Emmanuel McCray moved from LT to Pierce's spot at RT.

* Also along the offensive front, Jared Duke started against SEMO in place of injured Aaron Morris, who is out for the year with a knee injury, at left guard. Apparently Jared did well because he maintained the number one LG spot in practice. Jared and Patrick Junen, who has been trying to overcome offseason toe and wrist surgeries, did, however, split time some of the practice. Hopefully, Patrick is getting closer to be healthy and being able to contribute.

* A bit of surprise popped up at practice today. Slot Receiver Korvic Neat, who underwent knee surgery a few weeks ago, resurfaced in full gear and practiced full speed. Word is he will be available for the Texas game. "Korvic looked good. He did a nice job today," said Freeze.

Korvic Neat
Chuck Rounsaville

* WR Vincent Sanders, who broke his collarbone the second day of August drills and had to have surgery, also returned to practice today and was dressed out and running some drills. "Vincent is back. We are going to see if we can work him in and get him some action," Hugh noted. "It's hard to say how much. We'll see how the game goes, but I know he is in good shape, he's catching the ball as well as ever and he's been in big games before. It's still too early how much he'll play, but I would not hesitate to use him."

* DT Carlton Martin started, and played well, against Vanderbilt in the opener, but he was held out of the SEMO contest due to a hamstring issue. He was dressed out at practice Tuesday and looks ready to get back in the grind. We'll try to keep you posted on his progress this week.

* Sophomore WR/S Cody Core did double duty against SEMO, playing safety and wideout in the contest. Tuesday, he worked mostly with the wide receivers, but the option to play him at safety is still open. It looks as if the full return of Brishen Mathews at safety after missing some time with hamstring issues has not made that situation as urgent as before, however. Thus, Core concentrating more at WR.

* Last week, Chief Brown started at Rover in front of Trae Elston. In the early part of today's drills, Elston was back with the first team. As DC/Safety Coach Dave Wommack has said all along though, both are considered starters and both will get plenty of action. It's a good competition that will keep both on their toes and sharp.

* CB Charles Sawyer, who ran into some trouble over the weekend, was dressed out and practicing today, but still no official word on his status for this week's game against Texas. "It's still a wait and see thing for him," noted Freeze.

* A strong storm swept through Lafayette County during practice. For the hundredth time, thank goodness for the Manning Center, formerly known as the IPF. Work goes on regardless of the weather and the Rebs don't miss a beat.

* There has been some talk among some fans about the strength of QB Bo Wallace's arm through the first two games. After watching nearly a whole period of all the quarterbacks throwing deep routes to the wide receivers, it's hard to tell one from the other. Bo's arm looked fine to this uneducated eye.

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