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September 2013 Archives

WNBA Update (Sept. 30)

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WNBA Update (Sept. 30)
The Atlanta Dream swept the defending WNBA Champion, Indiana Fever, to advance to the 2013 WNBA Finals on Sunday (Sept. 29). The Dream will be making their third Finals appearance in the last four seasons. Former Rebel Armintie Price-Herrington was in the starting lineup for both games and averaged 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the series. The Dream will face the Minnesota Lynx for the 2013 WNBA Championship. Finals action gets underway on Sunday Oct. 6.

TV Schedule

Date                                  Matchup                                        Time
Sun. Oct. 6                        Atlanta at Minnesota                    8:30 p.m. (ET) - ESPN
Tues. Oct. 8                      Atlanta at Minnesota                    8:00 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2
Thurs., Oct.10                  Minnesota at Atlanta                    8:30 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2
Sun., Oct. 13*                  Minnesota at Atlanta                     8:00 p.m. (ET) -ESPN2
Wed., Oct. 16*                 Atlanta at Minnesota                     8:00 p.m. (ET)- ESPN
*If necessary

Atlanta Dream Coverage

WNBA Coverage

 

There are a lot of connections and similarities, as No. 24 Ole Miss prepares for its third straight road game of the season on the Plains against Auburn.


Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn served as Arkansas State's head coach in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and both teams run similar up-tempo offenses.


"We certainly can look just alike offensively, if we wanted to," Freeze said of the two offenses. "We'll be able to simulate their looks very efficiently for our defense. But having said that, both of us can change a lot during the course of a week, and he has two weeks to do whatever he is going to do. He will dress things up and add some wrinkles that we haven't seen.


"We are very, very similar in the things we do offensively, so it can help prepare us. You never know exactly what to prepare for. We'll show them that our defense wants to see, but there will be something that we don't cover that we will see Saturday night."


Freeze and Malzahn met when they were high school coaches and they traveled in the same circles of clinics and speeches. Their relationship grew when they were both assistants in the SEC in 2006. At that time, Freeze was the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach at Ole Miss, and Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas.


"It is somewhat eerily similar the paths we have shared many times," Freeze said. "We wish we were not in the same half of this conference, which would be nice. We would see each other just every so often and be able to help each other, but that's not reality, so we have to go and play.


"During the offseason, we would communicate quite a bit. Before this week, we would text maybe once a week, maybe a phone call, depending on who he's playing, and who I'm playing, we may talk some, without compromising each other's plan of any type. That's not real frequent. It's more of a texting, 'Good luck,' or "How are you doing?' deal."


Aplin Reunites With Two Former College Coaches


Another connection between Freeze and Malzahn is former Arkansas State quarterback and current Ole Miss administrative intern Ryan Aplin, who joined Freeze's staff after a very successful college career under Freeze and then Malzahn.


A two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Aplin led the Red Wolves to back-to-back conference championships in 2011 and 2012 and completed his four year-career with more than 25 combined single-game, season and career school record and as the conference's all-time leader in completions, passing yards and total offense.


"I like to hire good people who played for me," Freeze said of hiring Aplin. "I like to take care of those guys. When Ryan's NFL deal fell through this year, it was a no-brainer. If I had a quality control spot open, I would certainly want him here, just like I hired Ben Aigamaua who played for me also, and I will continue to try to hire good people that know what we do and the core values of our program."


As an intern, Aplin works with co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Dan Werner charting data, analyzing film and performing other administrative duties. 

"I had a conversation with Ryan early this week," Freeze said. "I know he's very close to both out us, and I don't want him to feel uncomfortable at all in anything that's going on. I'm sure Gus has changed everything from when Ryan was there. But at the same time, we had changed some things, too. 


"People, though, who work or play for you for a while, there's only so much you can change. They still can probably tell if it's run or pass. Now, if you can do that in time to make calls, I don't know. We won't put Ryan in that position. We're going to move him down from the press box to the field in this game. He'll be involved in helping us this week for sure, but we want him to feel good about the way that everything goes about."



'They Remind Me A Lot Of Us Last Year'


Inheriting a team that went 3-9 last season and winless in the SEC, Malzahn has Auburn off to a 3-1 start this year, with home wins over Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State. The Tigers' only loss was in their last game at then-No. 6 LSU, as they enter this week coming off a bye.


"They remind me a lot of us last year," Freeze said. "They are a vey, very hungry team that plays with great emotion, energy and passion. That's doesn't surprise me at all with Gus' leadership. They're off to a great start and have been very, very good at home, and we have to go there for another road trip in a hostile environment on a Saturday night. That's a big game for both schools sitting at 3-1. He will have them ready.


"He's got them playing extremely hard, and you face an offense that is very balanced in rushing and passing. They give you a lot of looks, motions and smoke and mirrors, and they are very efficient at what they do. Defensively, Ellis is one of the best in the business and is very, very multiple. You have to prepare for most anything."


Offensively, the Auburn rushing attack ranks third in the SEC with 232.2 yards per game, led by junior running back Tre Mason with 84.5 yards per game and four touchdowns. First-year quarterback Nick Marshall is 60-of-103 for 809 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions, and ranks sixth in the SEC in total offense with 239.3 yards per game.


R. Nkemdiche At Defensive Tackle


Having lined up primarily at defensive end in the first three games of the season, freshman Robert Nkemdiche moved inside for most of the game against Alabama. Freeze was overall pleased with the move, but it may not be permanent.


"We'll continue to look at where it's best to put him from week to week," Freeze said. "I wouldn't say it permanent. We'll look at what we're facing.


"He did fine. He made a few mistakes, but so did everyone. He graded out around 82 percent. He only had a few missed assignments. He made several tackles. He is very strong and tough to move around. He played real solid for a game of that magnitude against that offensive line in that arena."


Bouncing Back


Coming off the 25-0 loss at No. 1 Alabama, it was about learning from the loss, then putting it in the trash and preparing this week for Saturday against Auburn.


"One of the things about our program that I hope our kids see is that our coaches don't blink," Freeze said. "You have to play the next play. Yesterday, all of us didn't like losing. But again, it had been a while since we had lost compared to a few years back.


"We came into the team meeting. Sunday is about the truth. We told the truth about the offense, the defense and the special teams, and we put it in the trash and then went out and practiced with a lot of energy. I was real pleased with everyone's spirit."



Coming off a 4-1 loss to No. 7 Florida on Friday night, No. 24 Ole Miss scored two goals in the first five minutes and went on to win 7-0 over Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore Bethany Bunker netted a pair of goals to give her a hat trick for the weekend, and five goals for the season, including the first goal of Sunday's game.


Junior Kelly McCormick made three saves, as Ole Miss recorded its sixth shutout of the season. Offensively, along with Bunker, senior Mandy McCalla added two goals, giving her nine for the season, while sophomore Olivia Harrison, senior Emily Reid and freshman Addie Forbus rounded out the scoring for the Rebels.


"They just moved the ball so great, and really, Bethany and Rafa were great early, getting in and getting around the corner, and putting the ball in dangerous spots," head coach Matt Mott said. "It was a complete team win. We were very good and organized in the back.


"We had tons of energy. This team, they have great character, and they want to get out and play well at home. They weren't happy after Friday, so they came out with something to prove. They knocked in those couple early goals and settled themselves down. I'm certainly happy with their performance."


At 9-2-1 through 12 games, it's the third-best start in program history, its best since 2003, when Ole Miss advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in program history. Next weekend, the Rebels hit the road for two road games against two team currently just outside the top 25 in Tennessee and Georgia.


"We expect tough games," Mott said of next weekend's games. "Every SEC road game is really tough. We will have to come ready to go on Friday against Tennessee."




The No. 21-ranked Ole Miss defense spent nearly 40 minutes on the field and held tough for most of the game, as the Rebels fell 25-0 to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.


Outside of two long touchdown runs, a 68-yarder by T.J. Yeldon and a 50-yarder by Kenyan Drake, the Ole Miss defense allowed just nine points, three first-half Cade Foster field goals.


"We're real proud of their effort," head coach Hugh Freeze said of the defense. "On the two long touchdown runs, we let a guy get free to make a play and missed a tackle. It had to be frustrating to be on that side of the ball because we couldn't' get life in us because we could not produce any points."


Senior cornerback Charles Sawyer and sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche returned from injury, while freshman Derrick Jones made his college debut after switching from wide receiver to cornerback. Another change was freshman Robert Nkemdiche who moved inside to defensive tackle for most of the game, having previously lined up primarily at defense end.


Junior linebacker Serderius Bryant, who started for the third straight game, led the team with nine tackles, and freshman Huskie Tony Conner tied a career high with seven tackles. 


The Ole Miss defense forced three first-half fumbles, none of which were recovered, and Alabama went into halftime leading 9-0.


"It's aggravating," junior safety Cody Prewitt said of the fumbles. "We had three opportunities to get a turnover at a crucial point in the game, and we weren't able to capitalize. It's aggravating whenever that happens. You can't just stay thinking about that. You have to play the next play."


Yeldon broke his 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to extend the Alabama lead to 16-0, then the Ole Miss defense forced a turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter to temporarily turn the momentum in the game. 


Bryant tipped an A.J. McCarron pass right into the arms of Prewitt for his third interception of the season, and the Rebels took over at the Alabama 31. 



On the ensuing drive, Ole Miss converted a 4th-and-2 on a 5-yard run by senior running back Jeff Scott, but the Rebels were then unable to convert on 4th-and-10 from the Alabama 18, and the Crimson Tide took over on downs and wrapped up the win.


"We're a lot better than we were last year," Prewitt said. "We made fewer mistakes than we did last year. We definitely still have some work to do. We haven't lost any confidence whatsoever. We know that this was the number one team in the nation, and they're number one for a reason. And we knew that we would have to play an almost perfect game, and we know we made some mistakes. 


"Our confidence is not broken. We are going to go in and fix the mistakes tomorrow, and have our heads held high going into Auburn."



Sophomore Bethany Bunker netted her third goal of the season, but the one goal was not enough, as No. 7 Florida held on for the 4-1 win over No. 24 Ole Miss on Friday night.


"We got to score goals, and we got to get more dangerous," head coach Matt Mott said. "And we didn't do that enough tonight. We got to get more pressure on the ball. We didn't get enough pressure on the ball, and it allowed them to pass the ball around us, and we chased the ball ball too much.


"We have to come out stronger in the beginning," Bunker said. "They came out on the front foot, and their first three shots were three goals, so we have to come out stronger in the beginning and play hard for the whole game."


It's a quick turnaround for the Rebels, as they prepare for Auburn on Sunday, with a game time set for 1 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. The Tigers are 4-5-1 overall, with an 0-2-0 SEC record, coming off a 2-1 loss at South Carolina.


"We will watch some film in the morning and look at this game, then we will flush it," Mott said. "We got to get past this one as quick as we can and get ready for Auburn. We got to learn from (Friday) certainly. We did some things not typical of what we have been."


Vote For Your Rebels

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Ole Miss is represented on a number of early watch lists for major college football awards this year.

And some of those awards have a fan voting component, so we need Rebel Nation to show how much you support our players!

Fan voting is already open for three awards in particular - the Davey O'Brien Award (nation's best QB), the Biletnikoff Award (nation's best receiver) and the Paul Hornung Award (nation's most versatile player). Fans can cast their vote for those awards as often as once per day.

Here is a complete list of Rebels on watch lists, as well as links to vote:

Maxwell Award (nation's best player) - Bo Wallace
Davey O'Brien Award (nation's best quarterback) - Bo Wallace - VOTE NOW
Manning Award (nation's best quarterback) - Bo Wallace
Biletnikoff Award (nation's best receiver) - Donte Moncrief - VOTE NOW
Lombardi Award (nation's best lineman or linebacker) - Denzel Nkemdiche
Nagurski Trophy (nation's best defensive player) - Denzel Nkemdiche
Butkus Award (nation's best linebacker) - D.T. Shackelford
Lott IMPACT Trophy (nation's best defensive IMPACT player) - D.T. Shackelford
Rimington Trophy (nation's best center) - Evan Swindall
Paul Hornung Award (nation's most versatile player) - Jeff Scott - VOTE NOW

Also, you can cast your vote for Hugh Freeze for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year - VOTE NOW

Sellout Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winners

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While there is no doubt Ole Miss's victory over the Texas Longhorns 44-23 two Saturdays ago was exciting for all of Rebel Nation, it might have been a bit more exciting for two very special Rebel Fans.

J.C. and Linda Enlow were the proud winners of the first ever Sellout Sweepstakes Travel with the Team, created this past year to encourage current season ticket holders to renew their commitment for the upcoming 2013 season. Their reward? The lucky duo traveled in style with the team on their journey from Oxford to Austin and witnessed firsthand what its like being an Ole Miss football player preparing for a big time showdown in the Lone Star State.

The Enlows, who are retired but currently run a non-profit organization that establishes schools in underserved countries, were actually in Lima, Peru when Sr. Associate AD, Michael Thompson contacted them about winning the sweepstakes. Hearing them tell the story of receiving that winning call as we loaded the bus behind the Manning Center on Friday morning to depart for the Memphis airport was a perfect way to begin our travel.

Once on the bus , we got to know each other and shared our excitement about the trip while enjoying a boxed lunch from Chick-fil-A. I informed the Enlows that this would be my first ever road trip with the team as well, since I just came on board with Ole Miss in late July.

We arrived at the airport and went through security quickly before boarding the plane, where Mrs. Enlow made the observation that Mr. Enlow and Coach Freeze share a common appreciation for Coke. An observation she was delighted to pass along to her daughter.

The spirit squads, coaches, staff, and players joined us on the plane. Within moments, we were wheels up, heading to Austin.

When we touched down, the flight crew welcomed us over the PA system and wished Coach Freeze and his team good luck tomorrow night.

The hotel might have been the most memorable experience for the Enlows, as they were able to sit in the lobby for hours and meet players, coaches, and other administrative staff as they passed by and congregated in small groups. Personally, I think our travel party enjoyed their company as much as they enjoyed being there with us.

The next day was game day, but kickoff wasn't until 7 p.m. and there happened to be another "Big Time" game taking place, Alabama vs. Texas A&M. As I sat in the restaurant, next to the lobby watching the game with a room full of coaches and administrative staff, including Athletics Director Ross Bjork, who did I see right there in the middle of the crowd? Mr. Enlow. Enjoying the game and conversations with everyone as if he had been working for the department for 40 years.

As game time approached, we had our bags swept and loaded the bus for Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

At the stadium, we exited the bus to an enormously loud Ole Miss welcome and quickly entered under the stadium. The team entered the locker room and the Enlows and I took to the field to see what the 100,000 plus capacity stadium had to offer. 

Prior to kickoff, the Enlows visited with personnel on the sideline, and even had a chance to meet the famous face of Longhorn Athletics, Bevo, before getting to their first row seats behind the Ole Miss bench. 

As anyone who watched would agree, the game had plenty of ups and downs culminating with a heroic comeback and a marquee win for Coach Freeze and his team. When the final horn sounded, the Rebels stood on top and following post-game handshakes, the Rebels raced to the end of the stadium where I would estimate nearly 10,000 Rebel fans draped in red were celebrating. Once again, in the middle of all the fun and excitement stood the Enlows, hanging over the front row railing slapping high-fives and shouting praises to the team that would be walking out of Texas with a "W".

It is a general understanding that the return trip home for any team is always better after a win. Being that we didn't get to the Austin airport until after midnight following the game ,it was probably a good thing that this was the case this night, or should I say early morning.

You can understand the plane was filled with some pretty exhausted people, but I have to say the atmosphere was anything but. As I sat in my window seat next to J.C. and Linda, we chatted the whole trip home about the last two days and what an experience it had been. Before we exited the plane and boarded the bus for the last leg of our journey back to Oxford, Mrs. Enlow said to her husband, "I think this outdid our 50th wedding anniversary." Mr. Enlow nodded in agreement and said, "I think so too."

Enlows w Spirit Squads

I am certain that Mr. and Mrs. Enlow enjoyed their trip with the Rebels to Texas and all of the things they got to witness and be apart of. What I am not sure of, is if they know how truthfully enjoyable it was for me to experience my first Ole Miss Football road trip with them. It is something I will never forget! HOTTY TODDY

Jamil_Convocation_Pic.jpg

Assistant AD for Internal Relations, Dr. Jamil Northcutt served as the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Martin Methodist Champions of Character Convocation at the campus in Pulaski, Tenn.

The annual event honors student-athletes, team, and staff for their campus and community engagements, their reflected level of character traits, their high aspirations for academic success, and their servant leadership.

Northcutt shared with the RedHawk Athletic Department his five "I's of a Champion" - stressing the value of having high character, regardless of the situation.

The mission of the NAIA Champions of Character Program is to provide training to ensure character is demonstrated through conduct as well as competition, so students know, do and value the right thing in all areas of life. Through the Champions of Character program, the NAIA is promoting five core character values that are crucial to the development of our youth: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.

NAIA Coverage

Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with the media after Wednesday's practice.


Doctors told sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche that a return for Saturday's game at No. 1 Alabama was possible. From there, it was rehabbing two or three times a day and doing everything possible to be back after suffering a torn meniscus during the season opener against Vanderbilt.


As early as Monday, when Nkemdiche did drills with linebackers coach Tom Allen, he realized it was possible. When he came into the training room on Tuesday morning, it wasn't swelling, then after practice on Tuesday, he came back this morning, and there was no swelling. 


After practice on Wednesday, both he and head coach Hugh Freeze were confident that he will make the trip to Tuscaloosa.


"I felt good," Nkemdiche said. "I felt better than I did yesterday, and it looked great this morning. it's exciting because I feel like tomorrow morning, it's going to feel better than it did today."


"He looked good" Freeze said. "He didn't have much swelling today. If that is the case tomorrow morning, we will put him on the travel squad."

Nkemdiche, an All-SEC performer last season, led the team with 82 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three interceptions, and it's not just that production, but the overall depth at the linebacker position, where the Rebels have missed him this season.


"We have missed him a lot," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "In some spots, we don't have much depth. When that happened, we had to move a guy that was playing Mike linebacker over to Stinger linebacker. D.T. (Shackelford) had to catch up on all the things that we got a thousand reps on."


In Nkemdiche's absence, Bryant has started the last two games at Stinger linebacker and leads the team with 26 tackles and four tackles for loss.


"We knew all along that through fall camp that was one of our strongest two-deep positions with those two guys there," Wommack said. "We actually created some defensive packages so they would both be on the field at the same time because Serderius has come so far. Having them both back would be huge for us."


Last season, led by Nkemdiche, Ole Miss ranked second in the SEC, tied for 11th in the nation, with 38 sacks. Through three games, the Rebels have just four sacks, which is a by-product of defensive scheme. 


Wommack said they have played a lot more zone coverage and haven't pressured as much as in the past. As a result, they haven't given up as many big plays, an area of emphasis this season. 


Through three games, Ole Miss has allowed 32 plays of 10+ yards, which is the second fewest in the SEC and tied for 14th fewest in the nation, and just 9 plays of 20+ yards, which is tied for the second fewest in the SEC, tied for 20th fewest in the nation.


Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with the media after Tuesday's practice.


Sawyer Adds Depth At Corner


After missing games against Southeast Missouri and Texas, senior cornerback Charles Sawyer is back and will play Saturday. He adds depth and will split time at boundary corner with sophomore Mike Hilton. He also gives them more versatility and will help in nickel and dime situations.


"Charles is doing good," cornerbacks coach Jason Jones said. "He's back and flying around, making plays in practice. We're looking forward to having him back. He gives us that much depth there at the cornerback position.

"In the Texas game, Mike (Hilton) and Senquez (Golson) played pretty much every snap. At times, they got winded, but with Charles being back, you can put him in the game, and you can rest either Senquez and Mike and try to keep fresh guys on the field."

Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones meets with the media after Wednesday's practice.


Hooks, Jones Progress At New Positions 


Freeze and his staff introduced two position changes last week, with junior Lavon Hooks now splitting reps between his original position, defensive tackle, and his new position, tight end, and moving from freshman Derrick Jones from wide receiver to cornerback.


Hooks is listed as a third-team defensive tackle behind juniors Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett and has also gotten reps at tight end, where the 6-foot-4, 302-pounder played some in high school.


"He is learning," Freeze said. "He is swimming a bit at TE, so we kind of scaled back for this week, but we do have one package for him. He understands that and gives us a different look. 

"This year, he will work on both offense and defense unless something changes. In spring, we'll make a call one way or the other."

Jones is listed as a co-backup at boundary corner with senior Dehendret Collins behind sophomore Mike Hilton, with senior Charles Sawyer also in the mix at both field and boundary corner. Freeze said Jones has been looking really good, and defensive backs coach Jason Jones likes his size at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds.


"The size and speed that he has, that's what you want at corner," cornerbacks coach Jason Jones said. "We made the move a couple of weeks ago. The bye week, we had a chance to throw him in there and give him a ton of reps. He's coming along and doing a great job. I'm looking forward to seeing him out there and see what he can do."

Offensive coordinator Dan Werner meets with the media after Wednesday's practice.


Alabama's Blitzes


In Monday's press conference, Freeze said Alabama head coach has been on the cutting edge of defense, from new wrinkles every game, to multiple defenses, to the exotic blitzes that he likes to draw up on certain downs.


Offensive coordinator Dan Werner talked more about those blitzes and how tempo on offense can help counter them. 

"You can tell that they're communicating every play," Werner said. "As soon as a guy motions, they're going to change their coverage because they want to be in a certain look for every single formation and every single personnel group, so there's a lot of stuff going on with what they do. 

"The thing that we want to do is obviously play fast because it makes them think about those checks a lot faster."


Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

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Freeze_101312d_JM.jpgOle Miss Fans, I have a question: Is Hugh Freeze the Coach of the Year?

If your answer is yes, then you have a chance to make your voice heard, as the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year voting opens today.

You can visit www.CoachoftheYear.com and www.Facebook.com/LMCoachoftheYear to cast your votes.

The only way that Coach Freeze can win the prestigious award is if YOU, the Ole Miss fan base, goes and wins the voting poll.

Freeze has led this Ole Miss program to a 10-6 record since taking over after a 2-10 season just two years ago. Ole Miss is off to a 3-0 start this year, which has not happened since 1989, and is looking to reach even greater heights.

Archie Manning is the host of the Coach of the Year program, so the Ole Miss spirit should be as strong as ever. Hotty Toddy and Go Rebels!

WNBA Update (Sept. 24)

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Atlanta Dream
The Dream advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 80-72 win over the Washington Mystics on Monday (Sept. 23). Former Lady Rebel Armintie Price-Herrington provided a huge lift off the bench. She scored 14 points and pulled down four rebounds to go along with four assists, three steals and one block. The Dream will play the Indiana Fever for a spot in the WNBA Finals.

Atlanta Dream Coverage

Los Angeles Sparks
The LA Sparks saw their season end on Monday with a 78-77 loss to the Phoenix Mercury at the Staples Center. Carol Ross' squad closes the season with a 24-10, 15-2 home record.


Last season, two weeks removed from a 66-31 loss to Texas, Ole Miss hung tough at then-No. 1 Alabama, briefly leading early in the second quarter, but the Rebels fell to the Crimson Tide 33-14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. 


A year later, as it prepares for No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, No. 21 Ole Miss is 3-0 for the first time since 1989 and rides a five-game winning streak, which includes come-from-behind road wins against Vanderbilt and Texas already this year.


"Last year, we didn't know what to expect," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "This year, we're confident and we feel like we can play with anybody. 


"I was frustrated last year just because we were so close, and people were saying we were so close. I was ready to start winning those games. Now, we're starting to do that and win those close games, down at halftime and being able to come back into games. We have a pretty mature team, and hopefully we can go out, not make mistakes and win a football game."


A win against Alabama, Wallace said, would take them to that next level and put them in a chance to play for something big this year. For head coach Hugh Freeze, the motivation is clear, and it's one similar to the one entering the Texas game two weeks ago.


"What should motivate us, and I think will, is an opportunity to go stand in front of the measuring stick right now and prove that you deserve to be there. That's what we'll focus on. If it does go our way, it would certainly be a huge boost to our program and move us a few steps forward quicker than anybody thought, including myself."


Stopping The Run


Looking back on last year, defensively, Freeze said they were one of the few teams that felt like they stopped the run against Alabama, holding the Crimson Tide to 125 yards on 34 attempts, well below their 227.5 yards per game, which ranked 16th in the nation.


"They're going to play two or three tight ends, Freeze said. "They force you in committing so many to the box, so they can stop the run. They want to take a shot over your head. They've got quality receivers that can do that. Of course A.J. (McCarron) has proven what he is to that offense. He's a winner and he's proven that through the course of time. They just put you in a position where you're going to have to win one-on-ones. 


"That what this game ends up being about most of the time: How many one-on-ones did you win? Our kids are going to have to win some of those. We're not going to stop them the whole night. Hopefully we can score enough points and stop them enough that we have a shot in the fourth quarter. Our kids will play the entire 60 minutes and see what happens."


Through three games, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson said, running the football remains an emphasis for the Alabama offense, which ranks 85th in the nation in total offense, averaging 370.7 ypg, and 91st in rushing offense, averaging 132.0 ypg. Sophomore T.J. Yeldon, who has 273 rushing yards on 49 attempts, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, leads the rushing attack for the Crimson Tide.


"I haven't seen much of a difference," Johnson said of Alabama's offense. They still want to try to run the football, so they can dictate the tempo. I think they're throwing the ball a lot, just because they have great back and some pretty good receivers that can make you pay. You have to pick your poison against them."

 

Talking Tempo, Matching Up With Alabama's Defense


Much like the fast-paced, up-tempo offenses, which, right now, are cutting edge, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has done the same thing defensively, Freeze said, adding new wrinkles every game, switching between a 3-4 and 4-2-5 formation and giving you every look you can imagine.


"It's very multiple," Freeze said of Alabama's defense. "They're very physical up front. You have a difficult time consistently having drives on them. That's the thing that stands out game after game, even the game against Texas A&M. You don't put on the film and see a consistent drive without having a big play or a phenomenal one-on-one play.


"Physically they're very good and they're not going to make the mistake that allows you to have many explosive plays. That's been the staple of their defense. They're going to stay in the right position. Very rarely  do you see explosive plays. We've got to find a way to create those, or find a way to stay in and convert on third and shorts to stay on the field."


Last year, in a 33-14 loss in Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss managed two sustained drives, one of 13 plays for 75 yards, another of 16 plays for 70 yards, but two is not enough to win against that type of team, Freeze said.


Through three games, Alabama ranks 56th in the nation in total defense and 83rd in pass defense, having allowed 373.0 total ypg through three games, including 250.3 ypg through the air. But both statistics are due in large part to Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel's historic day against the Crimson Tide. He threw for 464 yards and ran for another 98 yards, as the Aggies with 628 yards of total offense in a 49-42 loss in College Station.


Manziel is a difference-maker, yes, but there are similarities between the Texas A&M and Ole Miss offenses. Part of that is tempo, where Ole Miss and Texas A&M rank second and third, respectively, in the SEC behind Missouri. The Rebels average 79.3 plays of offense per game, which ranks 20th in the nation, while the Aggies average 76.75 plays per game, 28th in the nation. 


Last year, opponents ran an average of 59.8 plays of offense against Alabama, and this year, opponents have ran an average of 58.7 plays. In last year's 33-14 loss to Alabama, Ole Miss ran 68 plays of offense, while Texas A&M ran 77 plays last year and 71 plays this year against the Crimson Tide.


"We're going to go our tempo in any game we play," Freeze said. "We have it ready. I would love to say that we're going to do it a lot, but you have got to win first down to do that. They were able to win first down a lot. Even though we're similar schematically, us and A&M, at a lot of things, you don't treat us the same if you're defending us because of who is taking the snap for them."


"We can put points on them," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We can put points on anybody. We have to show up and play. It's the same thing every week. That's stay on schedule, control the tempo and don't have any turnovers. We're winning first downs on most drives. Even if we don't win first downs, we have been pretty good on second downs. As long as we're staying schedule with third and short, and third and medium, we're having good drives."


Wallace also showed a lot of confidence in his group of receivers, which will be bolstered this week with the return of junior Vince Sanders, who suffered a broken collarbone during fall practice. Last season, he played in every game with 12 starts and finished with 39 receptions for 504 yards and two touchdowns, including a career-high seven receptions for 46 yards against Alabama.


"He went through a full practice yesterday," Freeze said of Sanders. "We'll incorporate him in just like we would anybody. He will be ready to go. You will probably see him, Laquon, Ja-Mes and Donte all out there at the same time some. We'll rotate them and keep them fresh. We love having him back. He gives us another threat for sure.


"It's exciting, and glad to have him back," Wallace said. "It seems like he's been gone forever. He was catching balls yesterday and looked good running routes. I'm excited to have him back."






Ole Miss WNBA Update (Sept.23)

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Los Angeles Sparks
After dropping the first game of the series on Thursday (Sept. 19), the Sparks rebounded and picked up a 82-73 road win in Phoenix on Saturday. The best-of-three series will be decided on Monday night at the Staples Center. The game will be played on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. (ET)

Atlanta Dream
The Dream dropped the first game of the series, but rebounded with a road win at Washington on Sunday to force the deciding Game 3. Arminitie Herrington came off the bench in both contests. She had 2 points in the first game of the series but rebounded with six points and seven rebounds in the road victory. Price-Herrington was named to the WNBA's All-Defensive First Team on Wednesday (Sept. 18). The Dream game will be played at 8 p.m. (ET) on NBATV.

WNBA.com Coverage

Home Sweet Home

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Well my first road trip with the women's golf team is in the books.  We pulled into the golf course at around 11:45 p.m. on Sunday after a six and a half hour drive back from Knoxville, safe and sound and ready for our own beds!

Coach J and I manned the front seat while the team was in the back. After the requisite stop at Cook Out for milkshakes, we hit the road for our journey back.

True to form, the ride included a very spirited jam out session with ... wait for it, wait for it ... country tunes (I know, who would have thought this team liked country:) and there was also some spirited  conversation surrounding emoji's.

We also watched 27 Dresses, one of my favorite movies, made even more entertaining with the commentary from Taelor Rubin and Stani Schiavone, just in case anyone was wondering you CAN'T MARRY ANYONE YOU DON'T KNOW.  I tend to think movies and music make road trips and both were spot on with this group.

So my very first Ole Miss women's golf trip is in the books and it was an experience that I won't soon forget.  From getting to know the coaches and players in a different way, to meeting parents and families (shout outs to Mrs. Hovatter, the Rubins, Mr. Schiavone, Mrs. Drinkard and Joe and former Rebel golfer Alyssa Randolph, who were cheering the Rebels throughout the weekend ) this was a definitely a top-five trip. A BIG thanks to Coach Drinkard for inviting me along and being so welcoming.

I can't wait for my next adventure with this group!

Until next trip,

1 Heart, 1 Goal

Jess Poole


The Ole Miss volleyball team won its first tournament championship of the season, with three wins this weekend in the Rebel Classic, its second tournament at the Gillom Sports Center.

Ole Miss swept Southern Miss, 3-0, on Friday night, then swept Chattanooga, 3-0, on Saturday afternoon, and clinched the tournament championship with a 3-1 win over Louisiana, winning three straight sets after dropping the first set.

"We proved that we can win, even when we're not on the top of our game," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We still have things to improve on, but the biggest thing is we took care of business in all three matches.



Sophomore Nakeyta Clair, an SEC All-Freshman selection last year, won Tournament MVP honors, while freshmen Melanie Crow and Aubrey Edie were named to the All-Tournament team. Clair led the team with 12 kills against Southern Miss and 13 kills against Chattanooga.

"I connected well with Aubrey my setter, and it seemed like every time she set me the ball, I got a kill, and I got on a roll this weekend," Clair said.

In the tournament finale, Louisiana won the first set, 25-20, then behind five kills from senior Kara Morgan, Ole Miss rallied to win the second set, 25-19. The Rebels closed things out, winning the third set, 25-15, and the fourth set, 25-14.

"We did a great job of adjusting and putting pressure back on them," Getzin said of the Louisiana win. "Lousiana played a great match in the first set, and we got a little frustrated with that, then we settled down and started putting pressure on them, and things started rolling our way."

Sophomore Ty Laporte led all Rebels with 10 kills and 12.5 points, followed by Morgan with nine kills and 11 points, while Tournament MVP Nakeyta Clair had nine seven kills. to go along with two block assists. Edie led the team with 33 assists, and freshman Kristen Brashear led the team with 14 digs.

The Rebels finish nonconference play with a 10-3 record and continue their five-match home stand, as they open Southeastern Conference play next weekend against Arkansas on Friday (7:00 p.m. CT) and Florida on Sunday (1:30 p.m. CT).

"We're excited to be opening up at home," Getzin said. "I like our team. We're doing good things. We're young, but we keep coming and getting strong every day."

Rain, Rain Go Away We Want (ed) To Play Golf

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Weather, can't live with it can't live without it and today was a prime example of that. All week we've been watching this weather pattern that was going to bring us some rain today. On Monday it was 65-75 percent chance of downpour and last night that jumped to 80 percent so right now, we're in the van and it's raining ... HARD!

Golf is a sport in which you play in the elements and it can actually really change your game plan. Wet greens, fairways ... water everywhere. Then add on top of that you have to wear rain gear which is more gear on top of carrying your bag ... yeah; weather can change a lot in golf.

Speaking of rain gear ... this SID is always prepared for weather. (I was a Girl Scout, and being prepared was VERY important) I keep extra shoes, socks, rain gear, umbrellas, everything in my car. You'll never catch me without the appropriate gear for any type of weather -- until today. I forgot everything, I mean everything.  It's all back in Oxford sitting in my car at the golf course. Luckily, I brought lots of socks and change of clothes and I got my first piece of women's golf gear ... a weatherproof hat! (Thanks Coach Drinkard)

So we've spent some time in the van this morning and here are some of the gems from our time in the Sprinter:

"We may be Landsharks but we thrive in water" - Alison Hovatter

 "I passed a level" followed by "I need a life" - EVERYONE, playing Candy Crush

 Number of Rain Songs we listened to in the delay: TOO MANY TO COUNT (Apparently rain is a theme in country music, who knew!)

So finally at Noon, today's round was cancelled. We loaded the Sprinter back up and went back to the hotel where we were greeted by Rebel fans, ok so it was our families but they really are most important fans anyways.

Speaking of fans, and support, I will say this team's support is second to none! Lots of fans have read this blog, liked our pictures on Facebook and Twitter and have just been amazing supporters of Rebel Women's Golf. It's been super fun to be a part of all this.

When on any road trip the best part, I think, is team dinners with parents and families included. You find out lots of good stuff at these dinners and tonight's dinner at Carraba's was no exception.

Needless to say, we laughed A LOT. We talked about Coach Drinkard's "classic baby picture", Mr. Rubin and Mr. Shiavone gave me a little grief for being a Lions fan (I've gotta rep the hometown team) and we talked about Alison Hovatter's LOVE of all things involving head football coach Hugh Freeze. Pretty sure she can recite the Egg Bowl speech word-for-word. That my friends, is Rebel Pride!

Sidenote: Micah Ginn and the Ole Miss video productions team, if you are reading this, we need to do an episode of "The Season" with the women's golf team. This group would make GOOD TV. All you need to do is come on a trip with us and you'll have PLENTY, trust me! #JustSayin

I'm going to close tonight's blog with this little gem:

"I just got a banana to the face" - Joe

See you on the course tomorrow, looking forward to hearing lots of Hotty Toddy's!

1 Heart, 1 Goal

Jess Poole


After a rainout on Friday, the Ole Miss baseball team opened fall practice on Saturday with its first inter-squad scrimmage. 

Senior right-hander Aaron Greenwood and junior right-hander Sam Smith got the starts for the Blue team and Red team, respectively, and the 10 pitchers between the two teams combined to allow just two runs.

Scoring for the scrimmage was broken down into three categories -- runs, bunting and energy -- and while the Blue team won the runs part, 2-0, it lost both the bunting and energy parts. 

The bunt contest was situational before each half inning, with a batter at the plate and runner at first, and the energy part was based on communication, running on and off the field between half innings, running down to first base and overall energy.

Individually, senior catcher Will Allen and junior first baseman Sikes Orvis delivered back-to-back RBI's for the Blue team in the bottom of the first, and then it was all pitching and defense.

Head coach Mike Bianco was impressed with junior right-hander Hawtin Buchanan, who worked two scoreless innings, and freshman middle infielder Errol Robinson, who showed good range and a strong arm at second base and shortstop.

Another defensive standout was junior outfielder Braxton Lee, a junior college transfer from Pearl River, who threw out a runner at the plate. Behind the plate, Allen threw out a base runner at second. And to close things out, junior right-handers Josh Laxer and Scott Weathersby worked the final two innings for the Blue team and Red team, respectively.

Round One ... In the Books

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So today was the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship. There was some awesome golf out there. Lots of birdies being made, some awesome putts but just like a roller coaster ride there are ups and downs and the team experienced a little bit of that today BUT something that I thought was neat was the re-grouping after the round. Everyone knew what they needed to focus on, they practiced it, we got in the Sprinter Van and headed back to the hotel.

(Sidenote: You really can't miss us here in Knoxville.  The van is big and blue and says "Ole Miss" in red letters. If I had a dollar for every stare I saw from other drivers, we would be in GOOD shape. #WeAreOleMiss)

I'm learning a lot about this group in our travels to and from the golf course. Abby Newton is the DJ and almost like clockwork there will be something light to open with, think The Fray or Goo Goo Dolls, but inevitably, country will be on deck. Although there was a little Nelly, Tail Feather today that even got the front of the van moving!

This group likes country -- no doubt about that.

This group also likes to sing country. There may or may not have been some serenading on the way back from dinner ... Alison Hovatter #JustSayin  This group is so into country that even Maria, all the way from Norway knows the lyrics... she's only been here about a month and she's got Hunter Hayes DOWN!

In my time at Ole Miss, the word family comes up a lot, in fact it's one of the main reasons I like it in Oxford so much, everyone really is like family. I don't have sisters but I definitely feel like I've gained some this weekend.

 See you on the course tomorrow, bring your rain gear!

1 Heart, 1 Goal

Jess Poole

ESPN College Gameday might not be coming to Ole Miss this week, but Ole Miss will be going there, as alumna Melissa King (@Dent4DA) won this week's AT&T #BeTheFan challenge. As the winner, she will receive a VIP trip to this week's ESPN College Gameday in Fargo, N.D., on the campus on North Dakota State. 


"I have never been to Fargo, so I get to see a part of the country that I have never seen," King said. "And of course, I get to see the hosts of College Gameday, which is fantastic. I will get to see a behind-the-scenes tour of how everything is set up and how everything works. It's going to be a wonderful experience. And I get to see a different kind of football and a different kind of tailgating from what we're used to in the Grove."


The contest asked participants to submit photos or videos via Instagram, Twitter or Vine showing their game day ritual or superstition. Her winning video is of her dog Jedi, a rescued Maltese Mix, raising his two front paws like the motion for a touchdown.



As part of the VIP trip, she will receive backstage access to meet with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard, tickets to the game and the opportunity to represent Ole Miss during the broadcast while holding the Twitter Sign of the Week. 


She will also be entered to win the Grand Prize trip to Pasadena, Calif., for the 2014 BCS National Championship game.


"I can't be more proud that I get to represent Ole Miss and our university," she said. "I won this competition because it was Ole Miss that the judges picked, and it's humbling that not only I won, but I also did it while I was also representing Ole Miss. 


"And now I get to Fargo and meet people who work in college sports on a national level and get to promote the good that is Ole Miss and be a representative of Rebel Nation and show that we're back in the football game."


King, originally from Madison, Miss., is a 2007 Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College graduate with a degree in Business Administration. She is now a practicing attorney living outside Atlanta, with her own firm specializing in Family Law and Estate Planning.


She went to one Ole Miss game last year and has already made plans to go to the Ole Miss-Auburn game in a few weeks. While she doesn't get to go back to Oxford as much as she would like to, she hopes next season she will be a season ticket holder. She also hopes ESPN College Gameday will soon visit Ole Miss.


"It's a perfect time to go, and if I can get in a good word to get College Gameday to come to the Grove, I will absolutely do it," she said. "I think it's time. They need to be there. I was an Ole Miss ambassador and got plenty of students to come to Ole Miss, so I'm going to do my best to get those guys to see us."

Women's Golf at Mercedes-Benz Championship

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Ole Miss women's golf SID Jessica Poole is serving as a guest blogger for this weekend's trip to the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Road trips are a part of life if you're a student-athlete. In fact, most seasons are like one big road trip with a few home matches or tournaments sprinkled in, but if you're a support staffer, say an SID, as I am, road trips take on a different meaning.

I'm new to the Ole Miss family, I've been on the job exactly 49 days so any road trip is going to be a fun new adventure to me, so when the women's golf team invited me to tag along with them this week to Knoxville, I was all in! First of all, I'm a closet golf fanatic. I'm talking, I love watching the Golf Channel and I want to be on the show the Big Break but my golf skills are not quite up to par (no pun intended :) So getting to golf through them, because they actually know what they are doing has been so much fun.

For me, the best part about this trip has been getting to know everyone in a way that is not achieved in my once a month trips to practice or a team photo shoot. This group has welcomed me with open arms and even let me get in on the Sock It To Cancer fun socks in support of coach Kim Evans. We shared lots of laughs today and I know the rest of the weekend will be the same!

You also learn a lot about teams on road trips especially from the music and this team has music selection down to a science. We've listened to Queen, Will Smith, The Fray and Chris Brown to name a few - all good tunes which resulted in lots of singing!

Another observation that I've made is that this team is family. Out on the course they have each other's backs, they share in each other's joys and are battling together to improve each and every hole, every time out. It's really awesome to be a part of!

They'll be battling together at the Mercedes-Benz Championship this weekend, so make sure to follow along on GolfStat and also on Twitter @OleMissWGolf. I tell ya, something special is brewing with this teamJ

1 Heart, 1 Goal

Jess Poole

 

 


Head coach Hugh Freeze recaps the day of practice, looks ahead to Alabama and discusses the play of some of the freshmen.



Through three games, Ole Miss ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense (490.0 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (38.0 ppg). The Rebels also rank second in the SEC, 25th in the nation, averaging 79.3 offensive plays per game. Offensive coordinator Dan Werner discusses quarterback junior Bo Wallace's progress, looks ahead to Alabama and assesses where the tempo has been relative to their expectations.


Ole Miss pitched a second-half shutout in a 44-23 win over Texas. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack looks back on those halftime adjustments, looks ahead to Alabama and assesses the progress of freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.


Last season, junior quarterback Bo Wallace led the nation by throwing an interception once every 22 passing attempts. Through three games and 87 attempts this season, Wallace has yet to throw an interception, which is tied for the third-most attempts without an interception in the nation.


"I want to keep that going as long as possible," Wallace said of his interception-free streak. "You have freak plays during the game. Those are going to come, but I can't make foolish interceptions like I did last game."


Wallace credits not only his health from undergoing clavicle surgery in January and regaining his arm strength the last week or so, but also his early struggles during fall camp.


"Coach Freeze and Coach Werner being in there with helping me with it," Wallace said. "During fall camp, I had that mindset change where I was struggling at the start, so I think that struggle kind of helped me with the way I'm playing right now."


Despite resting for much of the second game against Southeast Missouri, Wallace ranks 9th in the league in passing (216.0 ypg), 6th in total offense (256.0 ypg) and tied for 3rd in points responsible for (44), and the team also ranks 4th in total offense (490.0 ypg).


"I look at the differences in Bo's and LSU's guy (Zach Mettenberger)," Freeze said of SEC quarterbacks. "Those guys have elevated their game to join guys like (A.J.) McCarron, (Johnny) Manziel and the other ones that were already really good. 

"We're putting so much emphasis on quarterback play, functioning and taking care of the ball in the system in which we're asked to run. I know how hard we worked at it, and I'm sure others have done the same. It seems to be that it's been raised to another level."

"When we get up-tempo, as long as we're executing, it's hard to stop, especially if we get rolling on first down and stay on schedule," Wallace said. "People say defenses are going to catch up to it and things like that. Well, we're just going to get better at it. We know we're not where we need to be right now, and we're just going to keep getter better at it, so hopefully they don't catch up to it. 


In that same vein, as Freeze said Monday, the game has changed, whether we like it or not. 


You look at total offense, where Ole Miss averages 490.0 yards per game on offense, and it ranks 4th in the SEC, but just 33rd in the nation. And defensively, where the Rebels allow 332.7 yards per game, and it also ranks 4th in the SEC and 35th in the nation.


"These offenses are making you defend from sideline to sideline, all 53 yards, on every play, whether it's an inside run play or not, and then you add the tempo and rule changes, the defense can only do certain things," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "It definitely has been advantageous for the offense, and the stats prove that. It's hard to totally stop the offenses you are seeing now. 


"The high schools are doing it more and more, and the kids are so athletic, and now they are coming up in these systems. It's hard to defend the 53-yard field that we have when you use it on every play. That's why I love what we do, and it gives us a lot of options."


Different Mentality For Scott




Senior running back Jeff Scott set career highs with 243 all-purpose yards, including 164 yards on 19 carries, to go along with a thrilling 73-yard punt return for a touchdown and was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.


For the season, Scott ranks among the conference leaders in rushing (6th/110.0 ypg), yards from scrimmage (7th/122.0 ypg) and all-purpose yards (5th/151.7 ypg). 


"Coach Freeze, he's been on us, and I had to get my priorities right," Scott said. "My junior and senior year, I knew my talent was being limited here. I wanted to be a great player overall, and I wanted people to like me for what I did on the field and off the field. This is my senior year, and this is it for me. I wanted to go out on top.


Schematically, a large part of Scott's success has been the read-option with quarterback Bo Wallace, who has noticed a different mentality this year from Scott.

"Last year, the first thing he's going for is the sideline, and he's going to jump out of bounds," Wallace said. "This year, you're seeing his toughness and him wanting to make big plays. He's become a great blocker for us, and he's becoming a really smart football player."


Making Special Teams Special


Special teams helped turn the tide in Saturday's win over Texas, from senior Andrew Ritter's career-long 52-yard field as time expired in the first half to cut the lead to 23-17, to Scott's 73-yard punt return for a touchdown, which extended the Rebels' lead to 37-23.


In Monday's press conference, Freeze also noted the blocking on that punt return from Scott, particularly redshirt freshman linebacker Temario Strong.


"There were several key blocks on (Jeff Scott's) punt return," Freeze said. Bobby Hill made a good one, which looked like it could be bad at the time, but watching it, it was definitely in the side and not in the back.


"Then, Temario Strong finished a guy off as good as you will ever see. Temario had a phenomenal game on special teams. He was physical and full speed and did a great job. I'm really glad to see him take that next step. We've been pushing him to do that" 


Led by Scott, Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation in punt return average (29.7 yards per return). The Rebels are also one of just two SEC teams, along with Alabama, and one of 14 teams in the nation with a punt return for a touchdown. Ole Miss also ranks second in the SEC and 25th in the nation in opponents' punt return average (3.75 yards per return).



Ole Miss WNBA Update

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Ole Miss WNBA Update (Sept. 16)

The WNBA regular-season concluded on Sunday (September 15) and with the playoffs starting on Thursday (Sept 20), Ole Miss has ties to two playoff series. Former Ole Miss player and head coach, Carol Ross will lead the Los Angeles Sparks into the conference semifinals against the Phoenix Mercury while former Lady Rebel Armintie Price-Herrington and her Atlanta Dream squad will open semifinal action against the Washington Mystics. Both series get underway on Thursday (Sept. 19).

Los Angeles Sparks
Carol Ross' squad met the same Mercury squad to close the regular season on Sunday (Sept. 15) taking an 89-55 win as the teams split the regular-season series, 2-2.  Los Angeles is the No. 2 seed and hold home court advantage over the No. 3 seeded Mercury. The Mercury beat the Sparks 97-81 in Phoenix on June 14, and added a 90-84 victory on July 18. L.A.'s other win in the series, 88-76, was in Phoenix on July 14. The series schedule is below:

Date                                      Matchup                                              Time
Thurs .Sept. 19                 Phoenix at Los Angeles                 10 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2
Sat. Sept. 21                      Los Angeles at Phoenix                 10 p.m. (ET) - NBATV
Mon., Sept. 23                  Phoenix at Los Angeles*               10 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2
*Game if necessary

 

Atlanta Dream
Atlanta closed the regular-season on Sunday with a loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars. The Dream opened the regular-season series going 3-0 against the Mystics but Washington won the last two meetings, including an 85-80 overtime win on the road on Aug. 28. The Dream are the No. 2 seed and will have home court advantage should the series go to a third game. Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry is averaging 22.0 points per game. Price-Herrington enters the playoffs averaging 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game but did not play in the regular-season finale with a shoulder injury. The Dream have reached the WNBA Finals two of the last three years and are making their fifth playoff appearance.   

Date                                      Matchup                                              Time
Thurs .Sept. 19                  Washington at Atlanta                   8 p.m. (ET) - ESPN2
Sat. Sept. 21                      Atlanta at Washington                   7 p.m. (ET) - NBATV
Mon., Sept. 23                  Washington at Atlanta*                 TBA - NBATV
*Game if necessary


The Ole Miss soccer team completed the weekend sweep, with a 2-1 win over Kennesaw State on Friday, then a 3-0 win over Memphis on Sunday. The Rebels (6-1-1) enter Southeastern Conference play next Friday at No. 25 Arkansas.

"We came together as team," senior Mandy McCalla said of Sunday's win against Memphis. "The chemistry is there, and everyone is connecting. We have confidence from back-to-back wins this weekend, and we're going to take what we have learned in the nonconference into conference play."

"It was a great game for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "Two quality opponents. Memphis is a very good team. I'm really happy with our team to come out and score three goals and finish the shutout. To get a result like that is huge for us."

McCalla, who netted the go-ahead goal against Kennesaw State, did so again Sunday against Memphis, with her team-leading seventh goal of the season. Then, early in the second half, fellow senior Rafaelle Souza added a pair of goals in a one-minute span, her sixth and team-leading seventh goals of the season, as the Rebels extended their lead to 3-0.

"They get a chance (to score), and they have a really good idea of how to score and where to put the ball, and they both scored good goals tonight," Mott said of McCalla and Souza.



On the defensive end, junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick helped Ole Miss pitch its fourth shutout of the season, as McCormick made four saves, including one on a penalty kick when the game remained scoreless in the first half. The back line also made big plays on defense, including sophomore Maddie Friedmann, who cleared a ball of the line when the Rebels led 1-0 in the first half.

"Memphis has great, international-level forwards," Mott said. Our ability to shut them down and not let them create any goal-scoring chances was great for us. They attacked us some, but we defended them well for most of the game."

Through the first eight nonconference games, Ole Miss has a pair of road wins at UAB and St. Louis and played No. 23 Southern Cal to a 1-1 tie in the Minnesota Gold Classic. Offensively, the Rebels are averaging nearly three goals per game, with 23 goals through eight games, led by seven each from McCalla and Souza.

"We're two minutes away from being undefeated," Mott said of the first eight games. "We have played really well. Our intensity and effort have been good all year long. I'm certainly happy with it. Now, we have to get ready for conference play."






Head coach Hugh Freeze talks Wednesday's practice, an injury update on junior wide receiver Vince Sanders and the opportunity Saturday presents for the program.

Co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner talks about new Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, the Longhorns' personnel and the Rebels' preparation for Saturday.

Sophomore running back Jaylen Walton talks about last year's game against Texas, including his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and looks ahead to Saturday's matchup in Austin.

Rebels In Davis Cup

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Thumbnail image for Scholtz_Raonic_DavisCup.jpg
As junior Nik Scholtz represents his native country of South Africa in Davis Cup this weekend, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the history of Rebel players who have participated in Davis Cup.  Below is a list of countries that have been represented in Davis Cup by Ole Miss men's tennis players with the year they first played, how many nominations they've earned and the number of ties they have played in.

INDIA
Mahesh Bhupathi
- 1995 NCAA Doubles Champion, All-American, SEC Player of the Year, 12-Time Grand Slam Champion
  • First played in 1995
  • Has earned 35 nominations and played in 35 ties

LEBANON

Patrick Chucri
- Four-Year Letterwinner (2000-03)
  • First played in 2002
  • Earned 20 nominations and played in 27 ties

Ali Hamadeh - 1995 NCAA Doubles Champion, Two-Time All-American, All-SEC First Team
  • First played in 1996
  • Earned 16 nominations and played in 20 ties.

Karim Alayli - 2005 All-SEC Second Team
• First played in 1999
• Earned 20 nominations and played in 33 ties

MOROCCO

Mohamed Ridaoui
- 1991 National Clay Court Champion, 1992 All-American and All-SEC
• First played in 1989
• Earned 12 nominations and played in 12 ties

NEW ZEALAND

James Shortall
- 2000 NCAA Doubles Semifinalist, All-American, Two-Time All-SEC
• First played in 2000
• Earned five nominations and played in four ties

NORWAY

Fredrik Aarum
- Three-Year Letterwinner (2004-05, 2007)
• First played in 2002
• Earn four nominations and played in three ties

Adrian Forberg Skogeng - Four-Year Letterwinner (2010-13)
• First played in 2010
• Earned two nominations and has played in one tie

Erling Tveit - Three-Time All-American, 2008 NCAA Doubles Finalist,
2006 NCAA Singles Semifinalist, Four-Time All-SEC
• First played in 2003
• Earned 13 nominations and has played in 20 ties

SOUTH AFRICA

Nik Scholtz

• First played in 2012
• Has earned two nominations and played in one tie

Preparing For Texas

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Head coach Hugh Freeze discusses what he expects with new Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who replaced Manny Diaz after their loss to BYU, 40-21, in Provo, Utah. Robinson was a co-defensive coordinator for the Longhorns in 2004, which ended with an 11-1 record and the Longhorns' first BCS Bowl and Rose Bowl win over Michigan. 


That season, Texas held its opponents to 320.1 yards per game (23rd in the nation) and 17.9 points per game (18th in the national). He most recently served as the defensive coordinator at Michigan from 2009-10 after four years as the head coach at Syracuse from 2005-08.


Wallace 'Overwhelmed' Last Year Against Texas


Through two games, junior Bo Wallace has completed 39 of 62 passes for 471 yards with two touchdown and no interceptions. Last Saturday against SEMO, Ole Miss scored on all four of Wallace's drives -- three touchdowns and a field goal -- before he rested the rest of the game. 


"I don't think we're at all where we need to be," Wallace said. "This week is a huge test for us. We're focused in. Everybody is excited about it, especially being in the rankings. We have a huge test, so we have a lot of work to do this week."


This week, the test is Texas, coming off a 40-21 loss to BYU, and Wallace said Texas probably feels like their backs are against the wall with the media scrutiny surrounding the team.


"It's frustrating," Wallace said of the change in defensive coordinator. "We were in meetings when we found out yesterday. We talked about it then, and the coaches are going to get a plan together of what they want me to look at and things like that."


In last year's 66-31 loss to Texas, Wallace completed 13 of 24 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, and he described the feeling as "overwhelming."


"It was my first game against a big-time college football team," Wallace said. "I have played in big games now, and I know what to expect. I'm excited about it."


After last Saturday's win over SEMO, offensive coordinator Dan Werner said Wallace is light years ahead of where he was entering last year's game against Texas. On Monday, Wallace and Freeze said more of the same.


"I am way more prepared, and I have been in big games," Wallace said. "I have played against the great athletes like we're going to play against Saturday. I feel much more comfortable with it."


"Bo has played in some pretty big games at good places in this league in the year and a half since Texas last year, so all that experience has got to better prepare him for Saturday at Texas," Freeze said. "And that's the same for the rest of our team. I feel confident that we're better prepared. Does that mean the results will follow? I don't know. I'm confident we're better prepared mentally and physically."



Added Motivation For Both Teams



On the Ole Miss side, it's the motivation from last year's 66-31 loss to Texas.


"It was quite embarrassing to be honest," junior defensive end C.J. Johnson said. "They pretty much came in and beat us like a drum. We had a lot of missed assignments. We weren't as physical, and we didn't play real well in the first half. It was just a bad game. We played a bad game."


"It's a huge motivator, just like playing Vanderbilt, who we lost by one to last year, and we really wanted to beat them," senior offensive tackle Pierce Burton said. "Now, we have turned our focus to Texas. Any team that we lost to last year, we have a real chip on our shoulder when we play them this year."


For Texas, it's last week's 40-21 loss to BYU. Defensively, Texas allowed 550 rushing yards on 72 attempts, a 7.6 yards per carry average, and four rushing touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the Texas offense converted just 5 of 17 third-down attempts and 0 of 3 fourth-down attempts.


"We know we're going into a hostile environment, and those guys are going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder to play better from last week, so we have to be prepared," Johnson said.


"I expect them to be very emotional in front of their home crowd," Freeze said. "They will raise their game, and I expect to see the best that they can be. It won't be hard to get our guys up. They understand. We challenge them after the game the other night, and they will be anxious to get ready for this game and give them their best shot."


Other Notes & Quotes


Defensively against SEMO, Ole Miss allowed 13 points and 252 yards. Freeze was generally pleased with the defense, and the game plan entering Saturday's game against Texas centers on not allowing easy scores and stopping the run.


"We've got to quit allowing the easy scores. We allowed two that resonate on my mind. We had one of those the other night. Hopefully we can stop the run, that'll be our goal going in. We were not able to do that last year against them. We've got to be able to stop the run and not give up the easy score. They have some weapons and a lot of speed. They can also certainly throw it over the top of you any time. Hopefully we get a couple turnovers and we don't give up the easy play."


Sophomore Mike Hilton moved from Huskie to boundary corner, where he started last week against SEMO. This week, he is again listed as the starter there, opposite junior Senquez Golson at field corner. 


"Hilton played a good game the other night except for one play," Freeze said. "His eyes got bad, and he didn't get a read route on a kid, but he practiced at corner all of about three days. He had a solid game other than that one play."


Sophomore running back I'Tavius Mathers returned from an ankle injury last week against SEMO, and he rushed for 56 yards on four carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run.


"He gives us more of a physical back," Freeze said. "He made some good runs the other night. He's still not healthy. You can see that, when he tried to really make a cut. He's still not 100 percent, but hopefully he will be better this Saturday night than he was this past Saturday night. Certainly, we like his style. It's a little different and more physical. He's tough to bring down. He's a good complement to Jeff (Scott) and Jaylen (Walton)."


Hero In The Classroom

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Thumbnail image for Backstrom_Hero.JPGEach home football game Ole Miss recognizes a student-athlete who has excelled both on the field or court and in the classroom as the "Hero in the Classroom." 

Rebel men's tennis senior Johan Backstrom was honored at last Saturday's home opener against Southeast Missouri.  He was  featured in the game program and on the video board during the third quarter of the game.

At six-foot-five, Backstrom has played a pivotal role on the hard courts for the Rebels while also excelling in the classroom.  He is the exemplary student-athlete.

Backstrom helped lead Ole Miss to a top-10 final national ranking, their 10th SEC West title, and the team's 20th consecutive NCAA appearance in 2013.  With a 20-14 record in doubles, he ended the year ranked No. 58 in the nation with teammate Stefan Lindmark.   Backstrom also posted 24 wins in singles including clinching wins over both No. 6 Tennessee and No. 12 Baylor. 

Aside from the tennis courts, Backstrom has a current 3.89 GPA in Banking and Finance.  In 2013 he earned ITA Scholar-Athlete, Capital One Academic All-District, and SEC Academic Honor Roll honors.  He has been named to the Chancellor's Honor Roll every semester at Ole Miss.

Backstrom has helped the Rebels earn the Chancellor's Cup (given to team with the highest cumulative GPA) and the ITA All-Academic Team Award (requires a minimum GPA of 3.2) every year he's been here.

Stay tuned for more posts on forthcoming student-athletes recognized as the "Hero in the Classroom."

Follow me on Twitter: @krebel

Rebels 2-0 Headed To Texas

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Head coach Hugh Freeze discusses Ole Miss' 31-13 win over Southeast Missouri State. He discusses the play of junior quarterback Bo Wallace, the return of sophomore running back I'Tavius Mathers and his personnel decisions. He also assesses his team's depth and looks ahead to next Saturday's game at Texas. Kickoff from Austin is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be televised on the Longhorn Network, as well as affiliates throughout Mississippi and Memphis.


Wallace Looks Back, Looks Ahead To Texas


Junior quarterback Bo Wallace only played four series against Southeast Missouri before seniors Barry Brunetti and Robert Ratliff finished the game, but they all resulted in points. Wallace helped lead the offense three touchdown and a field goal, as the Rebels staked a 24-0 lead early in the first half. In the process, Wallace threw his first two touchdown of the season after rushing for two touchdown in last week's 39-35 win at Vanderbilt. 


A 64-yard pass to freshman tight end Evan Engram, his first career touchdown, and a 67-yard pass to junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief highlighted the first half, as the Rebels took a 31-0 lead into halftime, its largest lead since a 31-0 lead against Mississippi State in 2008.


"I thought he started ho-hum," Freeze said of Wallace. "We got explosive there and looked pretty decent on some drive. He made some good decisions and some good throws. I struggled at halftime whether or not to come back with him. I know he gives us the best chance to win. I felt like we needed to get others reps because we are going to need some others before it's over."


But it's one of the throws Wallace didn't make that's going to stay with him from the win against Southeast Missouri.


"I'm not proud of myself. I'm proud that we put up points the whole time. The one that's really going to be with me the whole night is the throw to (senior wide receiver Jordan) Holder I missed because that kid deserves a touchdown, and I missed him on it, so that one will stay with me."


Wallace and the Rebels are 2-0 for the second straight season, but both he and his offensive coordinator Dan Werner think he is further along this year compared to last year, when he completed 13 of 24 passes for 178 yard with a touchdown and three interceptions.


And with the rematch against Texas next week, there's some added motivation for Wallace and Ole Miss after last year's 66-31 loss in Oxford.


"I'm a lot more experienced," Wallace said. "The game is a lot slower, but I still have a lot of work to do. I got a lot of work to do, and I got to get it done this week."


"Light years ahead," Werner said of Wallace this year compared to last year. "Last year at this time, he was still trying to learn the offense and tempo. He has a good feel for what we're doing now. He didn't have the sharpest day today, but he still hasn't thrown a pick."

Engram Continues To Impress

In his college debut last week against Vanderbilt, freshman tight end Evan Engram caught five passes for 61 yards, and tonight against SEMO, he found the end zone for his first career touchdown. He finished with two catches for 70 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown catch.

"Evan is solid," Freeze said of Engram. "He's getting better and starting to understand what we're doing. And we're starting to understand what we can do with him and play to his strengths. He didn't get a lot of snaps tonight, but he had a good night when he was in there."

"When he came here to our camp, we really liked him, but he was a little undersized, so we wanted to see how he would do," Werner said, "He lit up the camp and made play after play. We ended recruiting him hard, got him, then he gained weight. Never did we think he could come in and be the player that he is right now. We felt like down the road in a couple of year, he would get bigger and be ready to go. He's a big-time player."

Bryant Fills In, Secondary Changes

Junior Serderius Bryant got the start at Stinger linebacker in place of injured sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, and he responded with career highs and team highs of 15 tackles, including eight solo tackles, and a tackle for loss.

"His assignments were solid," Freeze said. "Serderius is a good player. Him and Keith Lewis are good players. We need to stay healthy there. I don't think the linebackers had many breakdowns."

The Ole Miss defense also had four new starters in the secondary with junior Senquez Golson and sophomore Mike Hilton at cornerback, sophomore Chief Brown at Rover safety and freshman Tony Conner at Huskie.


"I think there was a bust on their second touchdown when our guys rotated the wrong way," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "I don't think were a lot of busts in the game. It was a fairly simple game plan, and there weren't many mental errors."






Family and football. Fathers and sons. A scrapbook of memories, which come alive on the screen through home video, game footage and candid, personal interviews with members of the Manning family and those whose lives they touched.


It was a special night in Oxford, as the ESPN Films documentary, The Book of Manning, premiered Friday at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts on the Ole Miss campus. The event also raised $100,000 to benefit the Friends of Children's Hospital, which supports the Blair E. Batson Hospital for children.


"I'm really honored to be here and flattered that Ole Miss wanted to make an event out of this," Archie said of the premiere. "I'm excited that the benefactor will be Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, which is part of the University Medical Center. It's going to raise a lot of money for them and help the sick children of Mississippi get well and get home.


"We are really flattered and indebted for the turnout that we had. We're always glad to be on campus and be around the Ole Miss family, so it's a great night for us."


Earlier in the day, Ole Miss Director of Athletics, Ross Bjork, announced the "building phase" of the Forward Together Campaign, and later at the film's premiere, it was also announced that Ole Miss Athletics will name the newly renovated Indoor Practice Facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center.


"Unbelievable," Archie said of the facilities. "The meeting room, the dining facility, the dressing room, the weight room. I saw SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and said we have got it going here. What we have here is Alabama-type stuff, and what they have been able to accomplish is the paramount thing in our conference right now. We have some great facilities."


MY TAKE ON THE FILM: The Book of Manning is a special tribute to a special family, which follows the Mannings through both their prosperity and adversity, from Archie's father, Elisha, to Archie, to Archie's three sons, Cooper, Peyton and Eli. 


It strikes a balance between their respective personal and professional lives, and their relationships, as the most powerful moments of the film are interviews with them talking about one another. And, other than video of Eli's verbal commitment to Ole Miss, what drew the most reaction was home video of football games in the Manning backyard. 


All of the games and moments you expect are in the film, such as Eli's commitment mentioned above, with context and supported by photos, videos and interviews. And each of their respective stories, all their own, is given careful attention, both individually and as part of the Manning family.


In the end, the story comes full circle and leaves you with a satisfied feeling of completeness, with Eli winning a January bowl game at Ole Miss more than 30 years after his father, Archie, did just the same.


The film premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.

Ole Miss freshman Sebastian Saiz, who represented his native Spain in international competition this past summer, along with fellow freshman Dwight Coleby, join four returnees on the frontline for the Rebels this season.


Senior Demarco Cox and junior Aaron Jones are coming off season-ending injuries, and sophomores Terry Brutus and Anthony Perez are entering their second year in the program.


Head coach Andy Kennedy has been really pleased with how Cox and Jones have progressed, how they have approached the offseason and how they are playing now. Kennedy said that Cox has been fully cleared, and Jones is probably a week away from being cleared for 5-on-5 full contact.


"Demarco is a big, strong, physical body who has been in our program for four years, and he's anxious to get back on the court after having sat out the year with a stress fracture," Kennedy said. "AJ is responding equally as well. He's athletic, brings energy, pursues the ball with reckless abandon, and he has not lost that despite going down with a season-ending ACL injury against Kentucky.


"Dwight Coleby is another big, physical presence at 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, and he brings a physicalness to that position that we desperately need. And then you throw in Anthony (Perez) and Terry Brutus, who have the versatility to help us in a number of spots."

 
Head coach Hugh Freeze talks special teams, Southeast Missouri State defense

 
Co-Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Werner talks Bo Wallace, running game

As Ole Miss enters game week against Southeast Missouri State, the Rebels will be tasked with replacing two starters in junior offensive guard Aaron Morris and sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.


"We didn't experience injuries last year very much, but now right off the bat we're faced with adversity with Aaron Morris being done for the year," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "The worst part of our game is to see how much effort they put in during the offseason and then they get to go play in front of everyone and to get that news is not easy."

Morris, Freeze said, does have a redshirt available, so hopefully they can get him a medical redshirt and still have two years to play.

In his absence, four players -- seniors Patrick Junen and Jared Duke, sophomore Justin Bell and freshman Austin Golson -- will rotate at guard. Senior Emmanuel McCray, who got the start at left tackle, will also work inside, with freshman Laremy Tunsil's impressive college debut at tackle.


"Laremy graded extremely high after the Vanderbilt game, and Austin was about average," Freeze said of the freshman offensive linemen. "Austin's effort was phenomenal, he pulled the wrong way a couple of times but those are things a normal freshman will do, especially while playing inside.  Inside a lot of things can go on and he's only been taking reps there for about a week and a half, but I was real pleased with his effort and focus."

Nkemdiche's injury, Freeze said, not season-ending, so they feel like he will be back, best case four weeks, worst case six weeks. Juniors Keith Lewis and Serderius Bryant will fill his spot at Stinger linebacker.


Lewis, the Rebels' starting Wolf linebacker, played mostly in 4-3, nickel and dime defensive sets, while Bryant sat behind Nkemdiche on last week's depth chart at Stinger linebacker


"It's the loss of the leadership and the loss of a very bright individual, but we have that in me and (Bryant) as well," Lewis said. "Me and (Bryant) combined can make up for the loss."


Senior D.T. Shackelford, who returned from a two-year absence due to knee injuries, played both linebacker and defensive end and will now focus solely on linebacker while Nkemdiche recovers from injury.


"I was pleased, we've shuffled him around a lot," Freeze said. " By the end of the opening week I would like to be settled on exactly where guys will play, and now with the injuries we have to move guys around again. He made a few mistakes on his fits but he played with phenomenal effort and now that he's beginning to settle in I think he'll be fine."

Cornerback Shuffle


Sophomore Quintavius Burdette and senior Dehendret Collins got the start at field and boundary corners, respectively, against Vanderbilt. Going forward, Freeze said they will keep moving guys around and hopefully getting some guys, like senior Charles Sawyer and junior Senquez Golson, healthy.


"I think everybody that watched the game saw that when Senquez Golson can go we are much better," Freeze said. "We were trying kids that had never played snaps, and I think they're going to be good.  We have to get Charles Sawyer healthy, and we'll try moving guys from the husky over to the boundary corner."

Freeze said Golson (hamstring) looked good in practice Monday and that Sawyer (shoulder) is closer to getting healthy as well.

"Right now, I feel like I don't any limitations," Golson said of his hamstring injury. "I mean I'm not feeling 100 percent, but I feel like I'm good enough to go... It was sore. I think I just had to loosen it up a little bit. The first deep ball that I had against Matthews was the first time I had opened up and ran in two or three weeks. After that play, I had more confidence and was good to go."

In addition to getting healthy, there will also be movement at the position this week.


Collins, whose eyes, Freeze said, "were pretty bad at times" at cornerback against Vanderbilt will move back to Huskie, where he played last season. 


Sophomore Mike Hilton, who got the start at Huskie, will move to cornerback, where he played some last season and also got some reps at during fall practice. Freeze also noted sophomore Anthony Standifer and freshman Bobby Hill as other options at cornerback.


"We got some changes to make and figure out who we have where," Golson said of the cornerback position. "We had Mike Hilton and Tony Conner at the same spot. We need both of those guys on the field at the same time."


Freshmen Impress


Freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was named SEC Freshman of the Week after leading Ole Miss in receiving with nine catches for 82 yards in his first college game. His nine catches were an Ole Miss freshman record and most by a Rebel since Mike Espy had nine against Auburn in 2005.


Treadwell hauled in a pass on three straight players and four to of five in one stretch in the third quarter, including a one-handed grab.


"That's him," Wallace said of Treadwell. "That's why he was the number one receiver recruit in the nation. That's what he does. He's not just terribly fast, but he has great ball skills, and you just have to give him a chance."


The play immediately after that stretch, which ended in the Rebels' second touchdown, Wallace completed a nine-yard pass to freshman tight end Evan Engram, who finished with five catches for 61 yards, which were both second-most on the team. 


"He's a stud," Wallace said of Engram. "He had a great game, and he just has to keep building on that. He's a huge playmaker in our offense. He creates mismatches for us. 


Engram, along with junior Donte Moncrief, also made the key block to spring junior running back Jeff Scott on his 75-yard, game-winning touchdown run with 1:07 left.


"As soon as he was here in 7-on-7, we saw how good of a receiver he was going to be. As small as he was, I was kind of worried about his blocking, but as you saw against Vanderbilt, he did a great job."


Holder Makes His Mark


A former walk-on, senior wide receiver Jordan Holder ran with the first-team during most of camp, worked his way on to the two-deep, and then quickly made an impact this season, catching a 4-yard pass from Wallace on the first offensive play of the game against Vanderbilt.


"I looked up and had to pinch myself for a second because Bo just slung it right at me," Holder said of the catch. "I'm happy that I caught it and got that out of the way, so we could play."


That 4-yard pass was also the first in his career, and he finished the game with three catches for 20 yards, having previously played in just two games. He played significant snaps in the slot, along with Treadwell and Engram.


"Whenever I was sticking with 1's during most of camp," Holder said of when he realized he was going to play this year. "That's when I kind of knew. I never wanted to get my hopes up because I had been there before the past couple of years, but I just stuck to it, and it finally worked out for me."


At 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Holder was asked about what he brings to the wide receiver position, and Holder noted his physical abilities, but also his awareness and knowledge of coverages.


"I may not look as fast as I am, but I definitely think I am deceptive with my speed, and my quickness and hands," Holder said. "You got to catch everything that comes your way.


"When you do it as long as I have been here, you pick things up that most people may not know, as far as if a blitzer is coming, or a safety is dropping down on top of you. Things like that, seeing what coverages are, so you know how to run your routes."


Holder was also a unanimous selection for one of five available scholarships for walk-on players, Freeze said last week. But when his name was called, he gave the scholarship to fellow senior and walk-on tight end Justin Bigham.


"It was a definitely an honor," Holder said. "It was something I always wanted to earn and work for. I was just happy to get it. What I did for Bigham, I was happy I was able to be in that position to help him out because he's a great guy and he's earned it just as much as I have, or anybody else has, so he deserved it.


"He was sitting right beside me when they announced mine, and they never called his name. I felt sick to my stomach because we started off together, and I definitely wanted him to have one." 

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
    Competitiveness we all so desire. The
    fan base and even our doubters are
    Paying attention. Even the whole country
    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
    Ranking. Go Rebels

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

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