'Another Good One'

Open week practices can sometimes drag and be a going-through-the-motions thing, but when you are 3-0 and the number one team in America is next up, it gets a team's attention. The Rebels, according to Coach Hugh Freeze, had another good open week practice Wednesday.

"We had a good one. The energy and competition was good. We went good-on-good and it went well," said Freeze. "We scripted some things today the offense wanted to see and the defense wanted to see. It was a good day - we got good work in."

Freeze knows what's facing Ole Miss next - a week from Saturday, after the open week, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the number one team in the land.

"Oh, they are good, real good," he shook his head. "Just like they always are. Alabama is the gold standard of our conference right now.

"There just aren't many weaknesses, if any at all."

Hugh has spent a lot of hours watching the Alabama-Texas A&M game film from last Saturday when the Aggies scored 42 points on the Tide.

The did not make him feel much better.

"The yards A&M got were guys making great plays. It's not like they were running around wide open. You can't depend on that all the time," said Freeze. "You hope and feel some of that will happen, but with A&M, it was more than just a few of those great plays.

"My point is that it is hard to study that and feel like you can get a consistent gameplan from that game. They have depth, they are big, strong and fast and their offense is probably a little better than it's been. Maybe more explosive is a better word. Their special teams are excellent. No question, we have a tall task. They are number one for a reason, and have been for two years."

Antonio Conner
Chuck Rounsaville

Random Notes:

* Freshman DE Robert Nkemdiche has only played three collegiate games, but he's already impressing Rebel Nation, and his head coach. "I think he is getting better every week," Freeze assessed. "The second half of the Texas game was his best half so far and I'm excited about his progress. He's going to make mistakes because of inexperience, but he's making them full speed."

* And the other freshman defensive starter, Husky Tony Connor? Same level of praise from the boss. "I love him. I'm so pleased. He's a really good player who can do a lot of things for you," Freeze noted. "He enables us to not have to go to 4-3 personnel as much against power teams because we believe he can act as that third linebacker at times because he is pretty physical. He loves to compete and I love his demeanor. His ceiling is huge, but it's still a little early to say he has arrived. This next stretch with Alabama, Auburn, A&M and LSU will give us a better idea of the adjustment period of both Tony and Robert and all the freshmen who are playing after those four, but I will say I have not been disappointed at this point at all."

* While we're asking, what about the progress of LT Laremy Tunsil? "Really good. He's a special talent and will be a special player," said Freeze.

* The guard slots on offense will again be manned by committee, so to speak, but you can probably add another name to the group - Patrick Junen. "He's practiced this week and has looked pretty good these last two days. He gives us some flexibility because he can play both guard slots and tackle. He will help our depth for sure," Freeze commented.

* TB I'tavius Mathers was supposed to be well on his way to being 100% for the Bama game, but he hit a bump in the road yesterday. "He tweaked his ankle a little yesterday," said Hugh. "He's trying hard and he's fighting through it, but he's not where we want him to be. Hopefully the rest he will get after tomorrow will get him healed up for next week."

* Freshman TB Mark Dodson missed Wednesday's practice for a family matter. He is expected back tomorrow.

* DT Carlton Martin (hamstring) was held out of Wednesday's practice in an effort to get him back to 100% before next week's practices/game.

* RT Pierce Burton dressed out, but did not test his bum ankle much in Wednesday's practice. He is expected to be OK for Bama, but he will require more rest between now and then. "Pierce knows everything there is to know, so it's not as crucial for him to practice as much as some of them - we need him well," Hugh explained.

* Yesterday, Cody Core practiced at wide receiver. Wednesday, he practiced at safety. He played both against SEMO, but only offense against Texas. It remains to be seen which side of the ball he will be on for Alabama.

* Lavon Hooks worked solely with the offense Wednesday after being tried at tight end Tuesday. Apaprently, the coaches liked what they saw to give him more work on offense.

* WR Vincent Sanders missed practice today with a case of pink eye. The trainers did not want him spreading it to teammates.

* OLB Serderius Bryant has done such a good job in Denzel Nkemdiche's absence due to injury that the coaches are tinkering with ways to get them both on the field at the same time in certain situations once Denzel returns. Needless to say, Bryant's trust factor among the coaches has skyrocketed and they want him on the field as much as possible.

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