Another Major Challenge

The 7-0, third-ranked Ole Miss Rebels travel to Baton Rouge Saturday to take on the improving and Top 25 LSU Tigers in another game that promises to be a big challenge. So what else is new? Nothing is ever easy in the SEC, especially in the Wild West.

Ole Miss-LSU.

Just the mention of this football classic, last won by the Rebels 27-24 in Oxford, makes the hair on every Rebel and Tigers' neck stand on end, if they have a pulse.

This year, however, the shoe will be on the other foot, so to speak.

The Rebels, uncharacteristically, will be favored, even though the game is in the unfriendly confines of Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

"It's a cliche," said Freeze, "but this is truly one of those games where records don't mean much. Both teams will be sky-high. It's the team that makes the fewest mistakes that will win. Look at last year. They had three turnovers in the first half and we capitalized on them and got a great win, against the oddsmakers. Making plays and not making mistakes will be critical to both teams."

Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack, who is guiding a defense that is first in the nation in allowing the fewest points, echoed Freeze's sentiments.

"Football is still about blocking and tackling and who makes the least mistakes," Wommack noted. "Right now, we aren't making many mistakes on defense, and we shouldn't. Someone asked me the other day who has improved the most on our defense.

"My answer is simple - all of them. Cody Prewitt was an All-American last year. He is better this year because he has minimized his mistakes. That seems to be across the board - from Robert Nkemdiche to Trae Elston to Senquez Golson. In fact, I can't name a player who hasn't improved, to this point, but you still have to prove it every week. You still have to make the least mistakes and execute every week. So far, we have done that."

LSU's offense reminds Wommack of Alabama's offense - downhill, big backs, good line, quality receivers and a run/run/run/play action mentality.

"They are very much like Alabama. They like to come right at you over and over with big, powerful backs and then when they think they have you sucked in and looking run, they try to go over the top," he stated. "Their QB has gotten more comfortable and he is a threat to run, just like Alabama's QB was or is. Ole Miss-LSU.

"We have our hands full."

Random Notes:

* Lo and behold, look who was at practice Tuesday. None other than Husky Chief Brown. Last week, he said he'd be back by the Auburn game in a hometown newspaper article. The Ole Miss trainers essentially said that while he was ahead of schedule in his rehab, that may have been wishful thinking. Chief has made a comeback from an Achilles tear that is nothing short of remarkable, but be cautioned - he still has to get in playing shape. How long will that take? We'll keep you posted.

* "Hold That Tiger" blared from the speaker system on the practice fields Tuesday in an attempt to get the Rebs used to the noise expected in Tiger Stadium. That's a common practice - noise before an away game, but it's awfully grating for onlookers to have to listen to that tune over and over. Like nails on a chalk board.

* Center Ben Still did not practice Tuesday. Monday in his press conference, Freeze said Still had a strained MCL. His status for Saturday is questionable. In his place with the number one offensive line was Robert Conyers, as expected. If Still cannot go, Conyers will get the nod at center, but it looks as if he will also maintain his spot as the third tackle. He's probably going to have a very busy day. When he slides out to tackle, look for Chris Frigo to take over at center. Frigo, a JUCO transfer, has been the fourth guard, but he has been working at center in practice all season. If Conyers needs a rest and has to come out of the game, Daronte Bouldin will most likely be the next tackle in the tackle rotation. These are all big "ifs" because there is a good chance Still will be ready and these will be moot points, but plans must be made just in case.

* WR Laquon Treadwell dinged his shoulder against Tennessee but came back in the game and had a catch after having to come out of the game. He practiced Tuesday and seemed fine, showing no effects from the nick in the last outing.

* WR/PR Markell Pack, Freeze said Monday, was also dinged up in the UT game, and that's why Eugene Brazley fielded a couple of punts in the second half. Like Laquon, Pack dressed out Tuesday and looked to be fine.

* Number changes. Last Saturday, Brazley switched to #13 from #3. It's a rule players with the same number cannot be on the field at the same time. Knowing Brazley may have to return punts, #3 would not work because freshman FS C.J. Hampton is on the punt return team and he wears #3. . . Also, today, Chief Brown took back over his #8 jersey and CB Kailo Moore, who was wearing #8 in Chief's absence, was switched to #2.

* Senior CB Cliff Coleman, along with Pack, Brazley and Elston, was fielding punts Tuesday.

* Twitch. Explosiveness. That's what every coach is looking for in an athlete. Who are considered the most quick twitch athletes on the team, via the coaches? Here are some: Robert Nkemdiche, Senquez Golson, I'tavius Mathers, Tony Conner and Serderius Bryant. Certainly, there are more, but these were the consensus "most explosive."


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