Focus Forward

Ole Miss had a two-hour closed practice - media was allowed to view two five-minute periods - in the Manning Center Tuesday. Coming off its first loss of the season, it was time to trash the last game and move 100% toward the next one - at Auburn.

Fans have the luxury to dwell on the past game until the next one comes around.

Coaches and players do not have that option.

In four short days, they must line up for another battle, this one against Auburn at Auburn, like the Rebels, 3-1 overall.

"We watched the Alabama film Sunday, had an honest discussion about it and put it in the trash," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "We can't afford to look back. We had a good light practice Sunday, took our mandatory day off yesterday and were back at it, with our eyes forward, today."

Freeze locked down Tuesday's practice to make sure he and his staff had the full attention of the team.

"We had a good work day. I liked the way they bounced back. I expect us to play well. I expect us to compete like we did all last year. I like the way our coaches and players are going about things," said Freeze.

This week presents different circumstances for the 2013 team. This is the first time they have lost this year and the first time in five games reaching back to last season.

"You get used to winning, and that's a good thing, but the reality in this league is that you are normally going to lose a game here and there," he stated.

Robert Nkemdiche
Chuck Rounsaville

"This early part of our schedule can wear you down. It's been tough being on the road as much as we have.

"The late trips home and then getting back up Sunday and getting it going again has not been easy. We look forward to getting this one past us and coming back home for a little while."

Freeze said the focus this week will be the same as every week - get better and execute.

"We are just trying to get better at what we do. We need to make sure what we are doing and how we are going about it is sound and solid," he explained. "I think we have some good stuff planned. Now we just have to execute."

Random Notes:

* Denzel Nkemdiche had his first action since the opener against Alabama - 26 snaps to be exact. "He said he feels better and had no swelling Sunday. I expect him to get a few more reps this week. In the Bama game, you could tell he had been out for a few games. He did OK - his movement was good, but he made some mistakes with his fits," Freeze noted. "He was just rusty."

* DT Carlton Martin did not make the trip to Alabama due to a nagging hamstring injury. He was back at practice Tuesday and looked to be full speed ahead in the brief time the media could view drills.

* TB I'tavius Mathers, who has been used lightly thus far due to a nagging ankle injury and the way the Alabama game played out strategically, was said to be "more like himself" in Tuesday's practice. Hopefully, the ankle injury is behind him.

* DE C.J. Johnson (ankle) did not practice Tuesday. He was in a boot and completely off the foot. His availability for Auburn has been defined as "day to day." "He says he feels OK, but we are making him stay off of it," said Freeze. "C.J. knows what we are doing, so we are not concerned about him missing practice. It's all about the ankle."

* Senior OL Patrick Junen still has not gotten much playing time, but he is healthy enough to contribute. Patrick could turn out to be an important cog in the Rebel OL moving forward because of his versatility. Junen can play, and has played, both guard and both tackle slots in his career at Ole Miss. Look for him to become more involved moving forward.

Devante Kincade
File Photo

* Freshman QB Devante Kincade showed up in June at Ole Miss tipping the scales at 182 pounds. He's now 202 and his bench press has gone up 40 pounds. He's made real good progress on the development of his body in just four short months. His goal? 210-215 and still maintain his speed. He should be able to reach that before next season.

* Redshirt Safety Anthony Alford, pound-for-pound, may well be the strongest player on the team. If not, he is certainly in the elite category. At 210 pounds, Alford can squat over 500 pounds. Alford is so strong that he does not work out with the secondary group in the weight room. He's with the linebackers and defensive line. Keep your eyes on him after his redshirt season is over.

* "Country strong" is a term used in describing players with natural strength that has not been enhanced much - yet - in the weight room. Two freshmen, at least, are country strong. DE/DT Robert Nkemdiche and redshirt OL Daronte Bouldin fit that description. Word out of the weight room is that they are, without question, the strongest freshmen on the team and are projected to be two of the strongest players overall on the squad in short order. "Super strong" was used to describe both. After a year or so in Paul Jackson's strength program, the sky is the limit. . . . Nkemdiche is not only strong, he's apparently tough too. He sustained a broken finger in the Alabama game, but in Tuesday's practice he had two quarterback sacks in full pad work.

* Redshirt DE Fadol Brown came to Ole Miss in the summer at 264 pounds. He's now tipping the scales at 280. Big boy.

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