Ole Miss had closed practices Friday and Saturday with a skeleton crew of coaches, most were on the road recruiting, but now that recruiting is in a dead period, all hands were on deck for Monday's practice as Music City Bowl preparations resumed.
Freeze continued. . .
"We got after it pretty good Friday and Saturday, but having everyone here today (Monday) helped things. We had good energy and got some good work done," said Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze. "Obviously, we have a laundry list of injuries a mile long, but we still have to get after it.
"That's the only way I know how to get us ready for what we will see in Georgia Tech. There are risks associated with this kind of contact, but I think it's what we have to do. We have to get ready for the cut blocks and different things Georgia Tech employs and the only way to do that is to have some contact work against their style of play."
The Yellow Jackets will run a triple option offense and Freeze knows what that means.
"Very few people have stopped them effectively," he stated. "If you are going to have to play against them and that option game, this is about as good a time as you can have because we have a little extra time to prepare for it.
"It sure wouldn't be much fun if we just had two or three days to prepare for it. Fortunately for us, though, Dave (Wommack) has been around it and I think he has a good bead on what they like to do."
Playing against a triple option, it is imperative to get a good look from the scout team offense.
"Anthony Alford is running the scout team offense and he's awfully athletic and can help give us a good look," Freeze noted. "I'm sure we'll have to adjust to the speed of what they do at first, but I also think we are getting an adequate look in practice."
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"It's assignment football, for sure. Our defensive guys will have to keep their eyes in the right place, make the right fits and execute," he said. "The option game they use has been really effective for them for a long time. They know what they are doing and they run it with precision.
"There's no doubt this is a challenge because we just don't see it any other time. It will be very important that we are focused and tuned in."
* Senior Cornerback Charles Sawyer missed several weeks at the end of the regular season with a deep quad bruise, but he practiced Monday. "I'm real happy for him. I want him to be able to play in this game and give his all for a university he cares a lot about," said Freeze. "He will help us. We are banged up over there. We are looking at Mike Hilton at safety and having Charles back allows us to do that. Mike is a good tackler and can help us in more than one area if we need him to."
* All-SEC and All-American Safety Cody Prewitt is out right now with a broken nose, but Freeze believes he will play in the bowl game. "I anticipate him being back, but we won't get him back until we get to the bowl site (December 26th)," Hugh noted. "He's at practice learning everything, but he's just not able to have any contact. I trust he will know what to do."
* TB Jeff Scott practiced Friday and Saturday, and has been declared "physically ready," but had one final classroom assignment for the semester that had to be completed Monday, so he did not practice.
* Freeze said there "is a chance" OT Laremy Tunsil, who injured his knee in the Egg Bowl, and TE Evan Engram, who missed the last half of the season after foot/leg surgery, could play in the bowl. "Like Cody, we will know more once we get to the bowl site, but we are hopeful," Freeze added.
* WR Ja-Mes Logan also missed Monday's practice in order to finish up some class work. He is expected back on Tuesday.
* DT Woodrow Hamilton has a stress fracture in his lower back and did not practice Monday. There is no word when he will return or if he will play in the bowl game.
* WR Vincent Sanders rolled an ankle in Monday's practice, but the early word is that it is not severe and he should be back at practice soon.
* OL Austin Golson, DE C.J. Johnson, OL Aaron Morris and DE Carlos Thompson are definitely out for the bowl game.
* LB Denzel Nkemdiche has toughed it out this year through a knee issue and, later, an ankle injury, but he was not able to produce at the level he had become accustomed to for much of the year. The word at practice Monday was that Denzel is "much, much better" and it is anticipated, if he has no setbacks, to be in peak form, physically, when the bowl rolls around.
* With Golson out and Tunsil questionable, the OL looks like this: LT Emmanuel McCray, LG Jared Duke, C Evan Swindall, RG Justin Bell and RT Pierce Burton. The main backups will be Patrick Junen, who can play both guard and tackle slots, Robert Conyers and Ben Still.
Freeze continued. . .