No Hangover

There were no signs of an Alabama-Auburn "hangover" in the early stages of Tuesday's practice on a perfect, blue-sky day on the practice fields. The Rebs seemed to be eager to get back to work after the day off Monday.

The back-to-back losses to Alabama and, more recently, Auburn, temporarily derailed the momentum the previously high-flying Rebels had gained and knocked them out of the AP Top 25 poll.

But if they are down, they showed no signs of that in Tuesday's practice.

It was business as usual on the practice fields under perfect conditions.

"I'm not big on the hangover mode, so to speak. In college football, there are a bunch of teams that lose games," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "If you are going to be worth your salt, and build a program, you can't have hangovers and drag around.

"I've always been careful to say that when reality does not meet expectations, it brings about frustration. That is why you have to be careful with your players in defining what the process is very early on. We have done that.

Having said that, Freeze had some remarks on what has to be done to turn the ship around.

"I'm proud of the way the team has responded, but we need some of the young kids to grow up, we need some guys to get healthy, we have to have our QB make better decisions, we have to make catches when we have the chance, we have to protect," he continued.

Anthony Alford
Ben Garrett

"Those are the things you should be frustrated about and the things we have to get fixed. But I liked the way they came back today and got after it."

The Rebs took more vertical shots against Auburn. Will that continue? That depends on the defense the Rebs face.

"The last two weeks, we have faced man coverage. When we see that, and if we can get it protected, we will go downfield. I think we can win man-to-man battles," said Freeze. "In the first three games, we had two men over the top and that's when you have to take what is given you underneath. Whatever the defense dictates is what we will take.

"You don't just throw it deep, but if we get the right looks, of course we will try it."

The Rebels have tried to simulate Johnny Manziel with one of the best athletes on the team and a guy who has played DI QB - Anthony Alford.

"He's our best chance. We have even told him, hey, scramble around this play and just throw it somewhere," Freeze laughed. "He did a good job."

Random Notes:

* Mike Hilton has done a marvelous job switching from Husky to corner. Why? Simple, said Freeze. "Mike is just a football player. He's going to do well wherever you put him. I sure wish he was 6-2 so he could cover #13 for them Saturday," Freeze smiled, "but he's not. What he is though is a really good football player that we are proud is on our team."

* Freshman Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell, like several Rebels, did not have his best outing against Auburn. "When you are a freshman and go through the grind of the schedule we have been handed, it wears on you," noted Freeze. "These freshmen have never gone through this before, not counting their other obligations with class and study hall, etc. I think he has experienced some of that. Getting home will help that, I feel. But having said all that, let me say I am very pleased with Laquon. He is going to be a very, very good player."

* Tailback Jeff Scott did not practice Tuesday due to a deep thigh bruised he sustained in the first quarter of the Auburn game, but the word at practice is that he will be back in the groove Wednesday. We'll keep you posted.

Jeff Scott
Ben Garrett

* DE C.J. Johnson was at practice today but was still in a boot and still on crutches. Freeze said yesterday they would test his ankle today to see where Johnson stood health-wise. Apparently, not so good yet. "We will test him tonight and see how he looks in the morning after we work him out some," Freeze noted.

* DT Carlton Martin has not played much in the past three games with an ankle and hamstring issue. We have learned the hamstring is fine now and he's practicing with his ankle heavily taped. Hopefully this will be the week he returns to more action. "Carlton looked pretty good today. I expect him to progress nicely and hopefully be with us Saturday," Hugh added.

* DE Carlos Thompson (shoulder) is out and Freeze said yesterday he would not play against Texas A&M.

* With Johnson in doubt and Thompson out, that cuts into the defensive end depth drastically. That basically leaves Cameron Whigham, Channing Ward and Robert Nkemdiche for sure available of DEs who have played this year. . . The coaches, however, have opted to bolster the position by moving D.T. Shackelford there for now. D.T. will still play some linebacker, but may get more reps at DE out of necessity. You'll recall, D.T. worked at defensive end for a week or so in August and showed some firepower in coming off the edge.

* The Rebel offensive line is nicked up, but they are a game bunch. Pierce Burton, Evan Swindall and Emmanuel McCray, all seniors and all handicapped with nagging injuries, have not missed any practice time of note and are battling every day to get ready for the Aggies. Tough kids. . . Although he has not played much to this point, Patrick Junen, who can play both guard and both tackle slots, looks better each day from a health standpoint. "We tried today to get him in and motivate him. I love him. A great kid," said Freeze. "He has to decide how motivated he's going to be to get in there and get some playing time. So far, he's had a good week. I expect him to play Saturday."

* The Rebel defensive coaches went more with a 3-3 look against Auburn last week in order to get LBs Serderius Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche on the field at the same time and to try to offset C.J. not being available. The 3-3 may or may not be employed this week, but don't be surprised to see Bryant and Nkemdiche in the lineup at the same time some more.

* WR Donte Moncrief has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder, but it has not prevented him from practicing and will not prevent him from playing. The coaches are limiting his contact during the week, but he will be good to go Saturday.

OM Spirit Top Stories