Petre Thomas

Rebels practice with some key pieces missing on patchwork Tuesday

Several key players were missing from Tuesday's practice, but the Ole Miss coaches have creatively pieced together some alternative plans in case some of the missing don't heal up by Saturday when Georgia Southern invades Oxford and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Offensive Line Coach Matt Luke had to play musical chairs with his offensive line last week against Auburn when LT Rod Taylor was out and Center Robert Conyers was struggling.

He went with a starting OL of freshman LT Greg Little, LG Javon Patterson, C Sean Rawlings, RG Daronte Bouldin and RT Alex Givens, a redshirt freshman.

At Tuesday's practice, Taylor, who is suffering from a high ankle sprain, was still MIA, and Conyers and Rawlings joined that list.

Consequently, Luke had to get creative again, this time moving Patterson inside to center and Sims, who has also been hobbled but is out there working, to left guard. Givens, Little and Bouldin remained where they were. Sims also worked some at center.

Jordan Sims

"We are having to move some people around and change some things up, but that's just part of the game," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "I like what Coach Luke has come up with as a stop-gap measure, but we are hoping to get some guys back soon. If not, we have our backup plans solidified and we will work those guys hard this week."

Freeze did something unusual Tuesday, opening practice to Ole Miss students and allowing himself to be mic'ed up. About 200 students, roughly 50-50 male and female, showed up and seemed to enjoy the workout and Freeze's instructions on the PA system.

"I had a young man ask me on Twitter to open a practice and I said I would," Freeze said. "I hope they enjoyed it - they seemed to."

Freeze took time to shake a lot of hands and thank them for coming out.

On Monday, Freeze said the Rebs, who are also playing musical chairs at linebacker, would start Oregon State graduate transfer Rommel Mageo at middle linebacker. A hobbled DeMarquis Gates appeared to be trying to go with the first team at Stinger.

Against Auburn, Tayler Polk and Willie Hibbler started, In other games, Detric Bing-Dukes, Terry Caldwell - currently suspended, and Ray Ray Smith has also started.

"We are really searching and I have thought of everything," said DC Dave Wommack. "I am willing to try anything anyone on our staff suggests because we are really struggling, obviously, at linebacker."

On Tuesday, Wommack even had DE John Youngblood working with the linebackers, as well as number one strong side end.

Shawn Curtis

Also, it looked as if Wommack was looking harder at redshirt freshman Shawn Curtis at strong side DE. Curtis has played sparingly this year.

One reason may be that Fadol Brown, who said Monday he is ready to go and is feeling as good as he has in a long time, did not practice Tuesday. He was out watching practice but he was not dressed out. He was getting his mental reps for a triple-option they will face against Georgia Southern.

"It is what it is at this point," said Fadol. "It's been frustrating, but you have no control over injuries and you have to stay positive and help any way you can. I feel pretty healthy. It's all mental - I hurt some, but I will worry about that later. My worry right now is helping the team.

"I have faith in being able to help the team and I have faith in my team. Our goal right now is to go 1-0 and then go from there."

Brown was asked why the Rebs have struggled against the run this year as he has watched the season unfold, mostly from the sidelines.

"It's all about fits. You have to fit things up. We are having so many missed fits that it just is unbelievable," he continued. "It is one thing to get run over, it is another to miss your gaps and not do your job. We have to fix that, in a hurry.

"We watch a lot of film, we practice hard, we run different schemes we are taught during the week to give us the best chance against different offenses, but we are not executing like we should. It really is that simple."

Brown got limited snaps against LSU and said he felt rusty. Against Auburn?

"I got a few more reps and felt better," he stated. "I feel like I can get more reps moving forward - whatever it takes, I am willing to do. And I feel I can be more of a leader as I get more reps."

 


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