Fun & Work

Friday was the final Music City Bowl practice before the team goes to Nashville on the 26th. Coach Hugh Freeze kept the workout light in the Manning Center, mixing fun and work.

Fun and work was the order of the day Friday morning in the Manning Center as the Rebels held their last on-campus practice for the December 30th Music City Bowl in Nashville.

The team will now take some time off for Christmas to be with their families and then join back up in Nashville the 26th.

It was a different day from the beginning in the Manning Center.

First, the lights went out on the practice field for about 15 minutes right before practice was to start.

Then, players started swapping jerseys for the heck of it.

Then, the coaches versus players challenge.

It was 7-on-7, a group of players drafted by the coaches against some of the coaches. Touch football with each offense starting at the 25, like sudden death.

If the coaches won, there would be 20 minutes of indo tacked on to practice. If the players won, no indo.

The coaches struck first when QB Ryan Aplin found WR Grant Heard in the end zone for a score. The PAT failed. The players answered with QB Robert Ratliff connecting with WR (?) Daronte Bouldin in the end zone. The PAT failed.

Sudden death from the 10 yard line. Ratliff hit TE Jamal Best for the TD and the PAT. The coaches came back and scored a TD when Aplin and Wideout Chris Kiffin hooked up for a TD, but the PAT failed.

The players won and erupted.

"We did this last year before the Compass Bowl," smiled Freeze. "The coaches are 0-2. The coaches have to get it figured out. There were a lot of non-moving parts on the coaches' side. It was a lot of fun for all of us."

Jeff Scott
File Photo

Without indo drills, the practice turned straight into repping the offense and defense and then, 45 minutes later, Freeze called the team up and let them go.

"We will meet back up on the 26th and will practice that night. We will practice like a normal week once we get up there," he explained. "We are going to let them have some fun, but we are going to work hard up there too. We will loosen curfew t5he first two nights, like we did last year at the Compass Bowl.

"We have already gone over with them several times of the pitfalls of the free time they are about to have. Our decisions define us and we hope the kids take our message to heart while they are away from us."

Random Notes:

* Freeze said LT Laremy Tunsil, who has been out with a non-surgical knee injury since the first quarter of the Egg Bowl, ran a little yesterday. "He's not ready to play right now, but hopefully he will be better when we report to Nashville," he explained.

* TE Evan Engram, who is also expected to try to come back when the team gets to Nashville, ran quite a bit Thursday and, according to Freeze, "he looked good." It sounds as if there is more optimism about Engram's chances to play in the bowl game than Tunsil's.

* DT Woodrow Hamilton has been having lower back issues and recently took a nerve blocker shot. The hope is that he will be able to be able to play in the bowl game, but that will not be determined until after the team gets to Nashville.

* WR Vincent Sanders (ankle) has not practiced since Monday, but it is anticipated he will be able to go in the Music City Bowl. If not, sophomore Cody Core, freshman Quincy Adeboyejo and junior Collins Moore will take up the slack for both Sanders and senior Ja-Mes Logan, who will not play due to academic ineligibility. All three have looked good in practice this week, said Freeze. "This could be a breakout game for those guys. They have worked hard and seem to be ready for the challenge and the spotlight," he said.

* TB Jeff Scott has been fielding punts this week and it looks as if he will handle those chores in the bowl game.

* The Rebs had major contact Monday-Thursday, but today they were dressed in soft shells and had no contact.

* A couple of updates: DE Carlos Thompson said his shoulder has gotten much better and he anticipates being ready for spring training after suffering some nerve damage associated with three stingers he had during the year. . . DE C.J. Johnson is now off his walker and is now doing some running on his surgically repaired foot. It is anticipated he will go through spring training as well. . . TB Eugene Brazley had knee surgery in August. It will be cutting it kind of close for him to be ready for spring training, but that is the hope and goal. . . OL Aaron Morris is walking around comfortably now after ACL surgery, but he has not started running yet. He is not expected to participate in spring drills.

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