One Day Closer

In the summer, waiting for football to roll around, it seems the days last 48 hours and the weeks last 14 days, but once the season gets started, the days and weeks go by in a flash. In just three more of those days, the Rebels will be in College Station taking on Texas A&M.

Don't blink or you may miss Saturday's game against Texas A&M.

As the old saying goes, time flies when you are having fun and the 5-0, third-ranked Rebels are indeed having loads of fun.

But it's also time to get down to business and the business at hand in Wednesday's practice in the Manning Center was getting ready for the Aggies, a wounded team playing at home in a hostile environment.

"We understand the challenge and what we are facing," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "A member of the media asked me the other day how this team would handle our new-found success. We are about to find out.

"Part of the journey we are on is learning how to deal with failure and success. You have to keep an even keel and I've been pleased this week with how the guys have come back to work and been focused on the task at hand."

Freeze likes what he has seen thus far.

"They have responded well this week. I like the way they have approached the week. They have put last Saturday behind them and are only thinking about A&M," he reiterated.

Freeze said he is not expecting the Aggies to play like they did against Mississippi State in terms of dropped passes.

"That was uncharacteristic of them, for sure. They have great athletes who stretch you and stress you from sideline to sideline and their B is very accurate," he noted. "State also did a good job of keeping the ball out of their hands, something we need to do as much as possible as well."

The Rebs have been playing loud music at practice trying to simulate noise as much as possible.

"I've had a headache the last two days from the noise," Freeze smiled. "It will be loud, but we are preparing the best we can. The good thing is that Bo Wallace has been in those environments before and that helps on the offensive side."

A&M's Myles Garrett is a sack master. Who is simulating him in practice? Freshman DE Victor Evans.

"Myles is a special athlete. We feel Victor has given us a good look though," Freeze closed. "We'll see."

Random Notes:

* A big 'oops' from yesterday's random notes. (Surprising nobody called me out.) With SS Trae Elston's suspension for a half, CB Mike Hilton will move to his spot for a half Saturday. That's the only thing that was correct about that random note from Tuesday. The rest was that Cliff Coleman and Derrick Jones would step in for Hilton at corner. Wrong. It will be freshman Kendarius Webster. Apologies to you for the misinformation and to Ken for stupidly omitting him.

* Last week, we did a feature on the improvement of DE Channing Ward, which highlighted his contributions on the kickoff coverage team. Never was that more evident than against Alabama late when he knocked the ball loose from Christion Jones, Bama's dangerous return man and reserve CB Kailo Moore pounced on it, setting up the go-ahead TD pass from Bo Wallace to Jaylen Walton. In a play of big plays, Channing's forced fumble may very well have been the biggest.

* DE John Youngblood gained the trust of the coaches last year through attrition. When a couple of ends went down to injury, Youngblood got his chance to play significant snaps and performed admirably. He has picked up where he left off last year, and while there is more competition at the DE slots, he's still in the picture for game reps. Why? "He doesn't make mistakes," said DC Dave Wommack. "You know when you put him in there he is going to carry out his assignments and do what he is supposed to do. Trust is important in any defense. We trust him and he showed last year he is capable of making plays when they present themselves."

* MLB D.T. Shackelford did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday due to "soreness in his knees." He is anticipated to play against the Aggies. Backup Husky A.J. Moore also did not practice due to a sprained ankle. He is also expected to be ready for the game.

* Three players are out for the year due to injury - Husky Chief Brown (Achilles), CB Carlos Davis (ACL) and CB Tee Shepard (toe surgery). Here's an update. Chief is running, cutting and going through some football-type drills. He is expected to be ready for spring training. . . Davis is six weeks out from ACL surgery and is "a little ahead of schedule." He also has a chance to be ready for spring drills. . . Shepard is still in a walking boot and will be in that boot for a "few more weeks," but he is putting weight on the foot and has "a good chance" to be back in action in spring training. All positive reports in the rehab process.

* Who will handle the placekicking duties? Freeze said it will be freshman Gary Wunderlich, who has been very good on long kicks, but has had some shaky moments on short kicks. "He's going to get his chance," noted Hugh.

* Freeze has said many times that it's difficult to peak a team more than 3-4 times a year. Obviously, one of those peak efforts was used up against Alabama. One has to believe heading into the loud, hostile confines of Kyle Field, he may have to reach for another peak performance against the Aggies. "We will have to be emotionally high to pull off a win against this caliber of team in that environment," Freeze noted. "We will have to execute. It can be hard to do that back-to-back, but I like this team's demeanor. I think they will be excited to play."

* Thursday's practice will be closed to the media. There will be no practice report.


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