Open week sometimes has the connotation of a week of rest. . .
. . . not for the 10th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels.
This is a work week, a time to get better and correct the mistakes from the first three games and that's just what the Rebs were up to at Tuesday's practice, a full-pad affair on the Ole Miss practice fields.
"We are getting our second team and redshirts a lot of reps this week and we are also working to correct the things we did wrong in the first three games," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "You have to be careful though in how you work your correction periods. The things we saw last week, we may not see again, so you don't want to dwell on them too much. You have to move on.
"What you want to do is make sure if they ever see a particular look again, they will know how to react and handle it, but you don't want to over work it."
It goes without saying the Rebs will also be working on the next opponent - Memphis - this week.
"It's always good to get a head start on the next opponent and have an extra day or two to put in your gameplan," he continued. "Also, this gives us a chance to heal up and rest the players with some nagging stuff going on."
It may sound silly to some, but there is a little bit of a concern about the game conditioning of the team from the angle of the starters not having to play a lot of snaps in the last two games.
"A lot of our starters have only played 25-30 snaps the past two weeks. We have to make sure they are ready to play 70 snaps when that time comes and it will come," noted Freeze. "I know (S&C Coach) Paul (Jackson) will have them ready but there is a big, big difference in 30 game snaps and 70 game snaps, physically and mentally. The focus required can wear you down mentally if you aren't used to it. We have to be prepared for that scenario."
* NASCAR's Ricky Stenhouse visited Ole Miss today to promote Talladega Race Track as NASCAR tries to entice younger race fans into their ranks. Stenhouse, an Olive Branch native, stopped by for practice. He and Freeze played in the St. Jude Pro-Am last summer and have become fast friends. Freeze gave Stenhouse a personalized jersey and a helmet. Stenhouse gave Freeze a racing suit. Stenhouse is a long time Rebel fan, by the way.
* Last year, QB Bo Wallace's arm got progressively weaker as the games ticked by. While this season is only 25% over, the opposite is taking place this year. Bo's arm is getting - so far - stronger as the weeks click off. In today's practice, for instance, Wallace threw an out pattern - a throw of roughly 35 yards - that went through Vincent Sanders' hands. Sanders turned to his receiver coach, Grant Heard, and said, "Bo put some heat on that one, coach," and smiled. "He has never thrown one that hard, and I like it."
* TB I'tavius Mathers was not at practice today due to a toe injury. It is not expected to sideline him for any games, but it needs rest. TB Akeem Judd suffered a similar a similar injury in August and only missed two days of practice.
* LG Aaron Morris is being held out of practice this week to rest his knees, which have developed some soreness with the rigors of August practice and three games. He has not missed a day of practice thus far, so this is precautionary and to get him ready for a long stretch when rest is not feasible.
* In Morris' absence, Justin Bell, the starting right guard, was moved to left guard and freshman Rod Taylor, who has seen quality playing time in the last two games, has been elevated to the number one right guard slot. "All Rod needs are reps and experience. He has proven to us he is aggressive and now it's up to us to get him ready for more action," said Freeze.
* It's no secret Freeze wants his offense to go faster, but it is a process in gaining more and more tempo. The open week is a great opportunity to do just that, hence the Rebs worked a couple of periods of tempo and they were going at a torrid pace. It is Freeze's desire to speed up, but only at the pace the players can handle it effectively.
* Freshman MLB DeMarquis Gates has a deep thigh bruise, but he practiced today. He was limping a bit, but in full pads and game to give it a go. Tough kid.
* MLB D.T. Shackelford has a bum ankle and was held out of practice today. . . . TB Jordan Wilkins was not at practice today due to an ankle and knee issue.
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