Bama Prep Continues

The Ole Miss Rebel football team continued their march to Tuscaloosa to face the number one Crimson Tide of Alabama with another productive practice Wednesday in the confines of the Manning Center.




Preparations for the clash with Alabama in Tuscaloosa Saturday continued for the Ole Miss football team with a two-hour workout in the Manning Center Wednesday.

Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze was pleased with the results of the practice session.

"It was a really good day. I like where our kids are right now. I like the focus," said Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze. "We practiced hard and got after it pretty good. We might have been a little too physical at times.

"We are as far along preparing for Alabama this week as we could hope to be."

Freeze likes the overall health of his team heading into a grueling four-week, SEC stretch.

"We seem fresh and most of the guys are pretty healthy. Pierce (Burton) still gimps around a little, but he'll gut through this game for sure," Freeze added. "We are healthy as we could be at this point."

Random Notes:

* From the did-you-know? department, Alabama has scored five non-offensive touchdowns in its first three games this year. The Tide has scored on two interception returns, a punt return, a kickoff return and a blocked punt return. In just three games, that's three special teams' scores. Impressive.


Lavon Hooks
Josh McCoy

Anyone who thinks special teams will not be critical when Alabama and Ole Miss tangle is not paying attention to the facts. The Rebels have scored one non-offensive TD in three games - the 73-yard punt return in the second half of the Texas game.

* Freshman QB Devante Kincade has been working a lot with the second team this week - just in case. Backup QB Barry Brunetti is still struggling a bit with shoulder issues. "I told DeVante this morning he was one play away from having to play for us, so we upped his reps this week," said Freeze. "I know Barry will try to go, but I don't know what will happen the first time he gets hit on that shoulder. I'm very pleased with the progress DeVante is making."

* Lavon Hooks continues to pull double duty in practice, working the first half of practice with the tight ends and the second half with the defensive line at DT. "Lavon is swimming a bit at TE, so we kind of scaled back, but we do have one package for him," said Freeze. "He gives us a different look. He will work at both the rest of this year unless something changes. In spring, we'll make a call one way or the other.". . . Also, Cody Core continues to practice on both sides of the ball - at safety and wide receiver.

* After Tuesday's practice, that featured the return of OLB Denzel Nkemdiche, Freeze took a wait-and-see approach about his talented sophomore. Would there be swelling in the knee Wednesday morning? Good news, there was not. Denzel practice again Wednesday on a limited basis and appears headed in the right direction - a quick return from knee surgery. "He had a good day. There wasn't much swelling. If that is the case tomorrow morning, we will put him on the travel squad," Freeze noted.

* Both LT Emmanuel McCray and RT Pierce Burton were held from most of the practice work last week due to nagging injuries. Burton's ankle and McCray's knee were a concern. Both have practiced full-speed this week thus far and will be available, if no setbacks occur, for the Tide.

* CB Charles Sawyer (shoulder) and WR Vincent Sanders (collarbone), as reported yesterday, are back in the fold and ready to go for this week's' contest. It is anticipated Sawyer will back up boundary corner Mike Hilton and Sanders will be in the wide receiver rotation. "Charles will help us in nickel and dime situations. I hope we get to play some of those," Freeze smiled. "Usually when you are in nickel and dime it's a good sign.


Charles Sawyer
File Photo

"He will help us in the boundary some too. He's got experience and will help us. We are also bringing Derrick Jones along pretty quickly. He's looking good at CB. Vincent gives us another experienced, capable receiver. We are certainly glad to have him back."

* Freeze indicated Tuesday afternoon that OG Patrick Junen was "as healthy as he has been since last season." Junen's Wednesday work confirmed that statement. Patrick was full bore during the workout.

* For the first time this fall, we had the opportunity to study freshman Punter Will Gleeson. Will has a strong leg, but what is more noticeable and impressive is his ability to place punts accurately, a byproduct of Australian Rules Football that he played through high school. In that sport, there is a premium to ball placement with kicks. Gleeson, whose brother punts for Wyoming, is very good at that aspect of the kicking game.

' * It's exciting, and a plus, to see sophomore DT Issac Gross returning to the form that drew him raves as a true freshman. Last year, he exploded on the scene with a very good effort against Alabama and this year he had a very good outing against Texas in Austin. Gross, when healthy, is a disruptor. The Rebs will need him to be in top form Saturday night and it appears he's headed that way based on how he did at Texas and his positive body language now in practice.

* Eight Rebels have caught passes this year. Laquon Treadwell leads the team with 16 receptions followed by freshman TE Evan Engram and Donte Moncrief with 11 each. Ja-Mes Logan has 8 catches and Jordan Holder 7. Vincent Sanders has not played yet, but will this week. Tough question for opposing defensive coordinators and secondary coaches: who do you concentrate on? A true pick-your-poison scenario.




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