Piecing It Together

At Tuesday's practice, there were - as expected - some key players missing, but life, uh, games, go on and there's no time to lick wounds. The coaches, particularly defensive ones, used Tuesday's practice to work on some personnel issues brought on by a recent rash of injuries.

As a football coach/player, you have two choices when bad things happen - mope or do something about it.

Based on Tuesday's approach to practice, as the Rebels prepare for Top 10 LSU this Saturday in Oxford, the Rebs chose the latter.

"It's football," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "Injuries happen. We won't sit around moping and we won't make excuses. We will piece things together, move a couple of people around and get after it."

Freeze was pleased with Tuesday's workout.

"I like what we are doing. We probably have too much stuff in right now, and we will probably hone down some things, but we want to give our kids the best chance to win and have enough in," he said. "We are shuffling some people around to fill in some holes from the injuries - which I don't want to talk about right now - and we shortened practice about 20 minutes today.

"We will shorten it tomorrow too. When you have as many injuries as we do, and have gone through the long grind we have so far with the people we have faced, it can take a toll on you in practice as well because you don't have as many bodies to work with. We have to be smart with how we practice."

Freeze reiterated his comment on not whining about the team's condition right now.

"We'll be at home. The fans will give us some extra energy. We'll be smart with our practices this week so we will be a fresh team Saturday and we will put everything on the line again. I know that," he stated.

The offensive side of the ball has been, lately, pretty fortunate. Besides LG Aaron Morris, who is out for the year with a knee injury, most of the players on the scoring side of the ball are in relatively good shape halfway through the season.

TB Jeff Scott (thigh bruise) was not at practice Tuesday, but he is expected to play against the Tigers.

"Jeff is questionable for the game," Freeze said.

Backup QB Barry Brunetti had his sprained shoulder tighten up after a it on the sidelines - some say out of bounds - against Texas A&M and he could not finish the game, but he was practicing Tuesday and appeared to be throwing short routes with his normal velocity.

The defensive side of the ball is a different story altogether, especially at defensive end, where Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring), C.J. Johnson (foot) and Carlos Thompson (shoulder) are all sidelined, nowhere in sight at practice. Also, Temario Strong, who is normally a linebacker, but played some DE out of necessity against A&M, was not at practice today due to a neck injury.

LB Serderius Bryant (concussion) did not practice today, but there seems to be some hope he will play. Only time, and the results of the concussion protocol, will tell.

"He's doing OK and fighting with the people who are doing the concussion protocol, but he's just not ready yet. We'll see," Freeze added.

CB Mike Hilton, who was used as a spy on Aggie Johnny Manziel prior to pulling his hamstring in the first half of last Saturday's game, was also missing in action. It is not anticipated he will play against LSU, but could be back for Idaho.

DT Issac Gross has bruised lower ribs, but is expected to see action against LSU.

"The injuries on defense will affect our tempo on offense. We didn't go fast last week in the first half because we wanted to limit the opportunities Texas A&M had with the ball. We will do that again this week," he noted. "We will manage our tempo the same way this week."

A byproduct of this many players being out is the affect it has on the special teams.

Chief Brown
Bruce Newman

"Our special taems have been pretty solid, but we will take some hits there this week without Temario Strong and Mike Hilton," he said. "But we do get Carlos Davis back, which will help. He is a great cover guy."

There is a challenge from going against A&M one week to a power team like LSU the next.

"It's a whole different gameplan, especially on defense. We will have to go with more of our big guys, but unfortunately a few of them are out," he noted. "We will have to play some kids who haven't played many snaps in order to get a two-deep that can help us.

"They are playing really well so this is a great challenge."

Random Notes:

* DT Woody Hamilton came off the field limping against Texas A&M, but he went back in later in the game and was dressed out for practice Tuesday. Barring anything freakish this week in practice, he will play against LSU.

* Safety Chief Brown also came off the field against A&M, but he did not return to the game. However, he was dressed out and practicing Tuesday. "He looked good today," said Freeze.

* The return of CB Carlos Davis could not have come at a better time after a six-game suspension to start the season. One, he's dynamic on both coverage teams and Odell Beckham is one of the best return men in the country for the Tigers. The Rebels ahve felt his return wrath before. Two, if he can get this week's gameplan down, he could be helping out some at cornerback. With Hilton likely out, Senquez Golson, Derrick Jones and Charles Sawyer will need help to get through the game. If Carlos doesn't grasp things well enough, look for for Bobby Hill to get a shot.

* OL Patrick Junen got substantial playing time against Texas A&M and seems to be back in full swing now. That's a plus for the Rebel OL because Patrick can play both guard and both tackle slots.

* Today, OL Coach Matt Luke was encouraging freshman LT Laremy Tunsil, who is now entrenched in the lineup. "You are not a freshman any more," Luke said. Tunsil smiled and nodded his approval of that statement. We are watching a great one develop and it will only get better.

* We saw Aaron Morris at practice for the first time in a while. He is still on crutches from his knee surgery roughly a month ago, but he is noticeably thinner than when he got hurt. He says he's gone from 355 pounds to 333. Good news for the future.

* A pair of receivers who are clearly getting "in the groove" are junior Vincent Sanders, two games removed from coming back from a collarbone injury, and freshman Quincy Adeboyejo, who played very well against A&M. Both are showing more swagger after their recent success. Look from them to continue to be big contributors.

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