WRs hold court

When the Rebel receivers watch game or practice film as a unit, they hold "court," voting on each other's performances on every play not made. Should he have made the play or not? They vote by pounding on the table as a "yes."

"It's fun when we hold court," said junior WR Mike Wallace. "We get on each other pretty hard, but it's all in fun and all motivational."

Sophomore Michael Hicks says it goes beyond that sometimes.

"We are all critics. We all think every ball in the air should be caught and every block should be mae," he smiled. "We vote by slamming our hand down on the table when we think someone should have made a play that wasn't made."

The court stories have a familiar ring to them. A ring of togetherness, cohesiveness, fun and being loose that the receivers have attributed to Ole Miss WQide Receivers Coach Hugh Freeze all season and a factor, they say, in why they are playing well.

"When you are loose, you play better. We were so tight last year, but Coach Freeze doesn't allow us to be tight. We are having fun and he's so relaxed and under control that it relaxes us and allows us to play loose," Wallace continued. "We like that feeling so we can just turn loose and play without a lot of added pressure. We play real hard for Coach Freeze because he lets you play that way."

Freeze said holding court is just another way of conveying an important point while fostering unity, competition and fun.

"We're very serious about our jobs, but I think it's important to relay important messages to kids in a way that lets them have a little fun and holds their attention," Hugh explained. "Holding court is a way to do that. They razz each other pretty good and I think that motivates all of them not to get a thumbs down from their performance in games or practice. They can get pretty rough sometimes, in a good-natured way."

It's hard to figure what anyone could complain about in terms of the results the wide receivers have produced thus far this year, but Freeze says the Rebel wideouts have their work cut out for them this weekend when Arkansas rolls into town.

"Arkansas will be a big challenge for us. I am more impressed with them than any secondary we have played yet," Hugh noted. "Every week until now I have felt there were matchups we could take advantage of - and have taken advantage of. I feel that way this week as well, but not as much.

"Arkansas is very confident in what they do in their secondary. They are going to play a lot of man coverage and try to bring a lot pressure. They try to eliminate the time you have to work your one-on-ones, so you have to get open quickly. That's something we haven't really seen a lot of that this year. Do I think we can be successful? Yes, but we just haven't worked against that much in live situations."

Wallace told the media Wednesday that the WRs high five each other in the film room when they see a lot of man coverage. They feel they can beat anyone one-on-one. Freeze is pleased with that response from a confidence standpoint.

"We do preach to them we are going to win our one-on-ones, but against Arkansas it will be tougher. They have a really good secondary and scheme. They try to bring one more guy to the line than you can block and create pressure that way. They try to make you throw the ball quickly so we have to be very synchronized in what we are doing from a protection angle and a route angle," he continued. "It will be a major challenge for us, but we are looking forward to it."

Wallace will most likely be matched up against a player reputed to be the fastest player in the country, Hog CB Michael Grant.

"I'm sure they will match him with Mike a lot, or at least I would think that, so we will certainly find out who is the fastest. If he can run with my guy, he's plenty fast," Freeze stated.

The whole receiving corps has been producing effectively most of the season, but a player who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle is Hicks, who had a key TD catch versus Bama last weekend.

"I'm very pleased with Mike right now. He doesn't get a lot of the attention, but he's really come on lately. He does some things better than some of the other guys and has made some big catches for us," Hugh said. "He made a phenomenal catch against Alabama. I think his role will increase.

"In August, I wasn't as high on him as I am now. I wasn't sure if he had a spot back in August. Now I am sure. Maybe it shows I catch on slowly," Freeze smiled. "He's physical and big and doesn't get bumped around much. He makes plays with his strength, he runs good routes and he has very good hands. He also understands what he can and can't do.

"One thing that has made us somewhat successful is that we don't ask our guys to do things they won't be good at. We pick out our offensive package and plays and then we match our wideout personnel with those plays and with what they do best. I know where I want each guy on every play and we try to give them a legitimate shot to succeed by asking them to do things we know they can do. I think that breeds confidence too. They know they are being put into a position where they can succeed and that makes them confident."

After the Arkansas game, there will be plays that were made and plays that weren't. They will all be judged.

"We'll watch a play and one of them will say 'let's go to court!' And they vote. Mike Wallace is the main instigator. It's all in fun, but it also drives a point home - you have to be accountable and make plays," Freeze ended.

Court is in session. The honorable Hugh Freeze presiding.

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