Heat is On

With the sound system blaring "traditional" Texas songs, the Rebels practiced in some blistering heat in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Wednesday.

It was hot, steaming hot, at Ole Miss' Wednesday practice, held on the heat-absorbing turf in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze thought it was a necessary course of action considering the temperatures in Austin, Texas, are predicted to be nearly 100 degrees Saturday afternoon.

"I hear it's going to be hot in Austin," Freeze, still wet from perspiration, deadpanned after the two-hour workout. "We always want to go outside, but this did us some good. It will be hot Saturday night and we need to work in it.

"I expect there to be a lot of snaps in that game. We will have to use a lot of players. They have to be prepared for the heat."

Wednesday's workout was not "top shelf," according to Freeze, but it was good enough.

"I was proud of our coaches. They pushed the guys hard. We got after it with some good-on-good and other situations," he noted. "It was a physical, good practice. The energy wasn't great, but we pushed them through it and got some stuff done today."

The talk about Texas' defense has mostly been about their scheme with a new defensive coordinator, Greg Robinson, but what of their personnel?

"They are big, good-looking athletes at every spot. They don't have any small kids at any spot. They are long, rangy kids that I'm certain can play the game very well," he said. "I'm sure that's what we will get from them."

The Ole Miss-Texas game is an opportunity for the Rebs to take a leap in status, Freeze believes.

Evan Engram
Ben Garrett

"I don't talk to the kids about that, but our coaches and I feel a win in Austin would make people look at us differently," he closed.

Random Notes:

* Freshman Tight End Evan Engram has captured the hearts and imaginations of the Rebel faithful with his superb performances in the first two games of the season. And rightly so. Engram has caught seven passes for 131 yards, including a 64-yard TD catch-and-run against SEMO last week where he flashed wide receiver-like speed. He's averaging 18.7 yards per catch thus far, tops on the squad. For comparison, Donte Moncrief has the same number of catches for one less yard. To say Engram has started out his career with a bang is an understatement. Engram, a quiet youngster by nature - at least so far, reported to Ole Miss at 6-3, 208 pounds. He's now 220 pounds and has been able to maintain that weight through the heat and rigors of August practice and two weeks into the season. It is very realistic to anticipate him growing another inch in height - his Dad is 6-5 and his Mom is 5-11 - and gaining 20-25 more pounds, easily, while maintaining his 4.5 40 speed. 6-4, 245 with 4.5 speed? Special.

* Freeze was asked about freshman TE Christian Morgan, who injured his knee in spring training and was expected to be lost for the season, but is trying to play now. "He's not ready. He needs to redshirt this year, if at all possible," Freeze noted. "I admire him for being out here trying though."

* RT Pierce Burton missed yesterday's practice while nursing a sprained ankle. He came back to duty Wednesday and looked to be feeling his oats. He expects to be close to 100% Saturday when he locks his horns with the Longhorns. "He'll go. He's a tough kid. He'll play as long as he can, same as E-Man. They will go as hard as they can as long as they can," Freeze stated. . . Emmanuel McCray has a nagging knee issue, but he has practiced both days this week.

* The Rebel coaches have been liberally using piped in crowd noise this week. They expect a large, loud, rowdy crowd Saturday night in Austin, so the only way to semi-simulate that experience is with several speakers placed strategically around the field during practice. It won't be exactly the same - the stadium will be louder, we've been told, but it can give the Ole Miss players a similar feeling.

* DT Carlton Martin sat out Saturday's game with SEMO with a pulled hamstring. He was limited in his return to practice Tuesday, but seemed to be full bore in Wednesday's workout. With the predicted temperatures in Austin, every able body will have to contribute, especially in the trenches.

Austin Golson
Ben Garrett

* Slot Receiver Korvic Neat and WR Vincent Sanders continued on their comeback from injury Wednesday. Both are anticipated to play against Texas. How much remains to be seen. "The doctors will be here tomorrow and we will evaluate everything then, but Vincent looked good catching the ball today," he noted.

* Usually, it takes a couple of years to really know what kind of recruiting class you've signed the year before. This one is no different, but the early signs on the offensive line class of Laremy Tunsil, Austin Golson, Daronte Bouldin and Davion Johnson - looks like a 4-for-4 job well done. Tunsil is well on his way to establishing himself as the best freshman OL ever at Ole Miss, with all due respect to Michael Oher, Keydrick Vincent, Terrance Metcalf, Marcus Johnson, et al. His maturity level is off the charts for a young man his age. Golson is not far behind, if at all. Bouldin also has an NFL look with very good strength and good footwork. It would not surprise anyone if, after a redshirt, he is a four-year starter. Johnson is extremely raw, and a year away, but don't be shocked if he's a three-year starter in the program. Those four road graders will make a mark for themselves in the years to come. Book it.

* Freeze spilled the beans on CB Charles Sawyer's plight today on the Chris Vernon Show. Not surprisingly, Charles will be suspended for the Texas game after some off-the-field trouble over the weekend. Screw up and, as Freeze said in his Monday press conference, there are consequences.

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