OLE MISS

October 2013 Archives

As Ole Miss prepares for its exhibition game Friday night against South Carolina-Aiken and its season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy, it will be without senior guard Marshall Henderson due to suspension. 

"We knew there was going to be a suspension, and as we were preparing our team, he's been on the second team the entire time simply because we wanted to get some continuity," head coach Kennedy said. 

"We had a closed scrimmage against Arkansas-Little Rock last week, and I didn't play him a lot simply not knowing what to anticipate as it related to him being a part of our team early. Now we know, and we can game plan accordingly."

Henderson will also miss the Rebels' first two Southeastern Conference games Jan. 9 versus Auburn and Jan. 11 at Mississippi State, But for now, Kennedy said he is focused on preparation for the exhibition, then the season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy.

"I have never dealt with that," Kennedy said. "It's kind of unprecedented in the way that it's laid out. For us, we'll deal with it as it relates to him not being there for the opener, and then he'll be back in the mix. 

"And then when we approach Auburn, by then, a lot of the guys like Anthony (Perez) and (Martavious) Newby will have gotten experience. We'll deal with it like we would if we lose anybody at that stage in the season. I don't think about it big-picture right now. We just think about him not playing Friday and not playing in our opener."

For the exhibition and three regular season games, without Henderson, the Rebels will turn to two juniors in Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White and a trio of sophomores in Perez, Newby and Derrick Millinghaus.

"We have a veteran group in our backcourt when you start talking about Jarvis (Summers) as a two-year starter, Snoop (White) who had an opportunity to emerge in his role last year, Derrick MIllinghaus, and we have seen a huge improvement, as I have said from day one, from Anthony (Perez) and Newby in year two," Kennedy said. 

"I think we'll be OK. Obviously, when you lose your leading scorer, different guys are going to have to step up and fill that void."

White, who was sixth on the team in scoring (6.4), having also scored in double figures seven times with one 20-point game, will be expected to carry a larger load and be more consistent this year.

"I need him to take that next step," Kennedy said. "I thought we saw a natural progression between year one and two. He needs to that next step and be a guy we can depend on to be a double-figure scorer. 

"He needs to be a lockdown defender for us on the wing. And he needs to be a rebounder and a facilitator off the dribble. I need him to be involved in every statistical category in order for him to play to his potential and help our team like we need."

For Perez and Newby, who averaged just 6.8 and 6.0 minutes per game last year, there is an opportunity for more minutes this year and to make a progression similar to White last year.

"They're more comfortable," Kennedy said. "Physically, they're stronger. The opportunity is much bigger for them now. We had Nick there last year as a fifth-year senior, and he was guy we were comfortable with because we knew we could trust him. Now, there are minutes to be had, especially early."

Track Hands Out Awards At Team Banquet

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Ole Miss Track & Field had an outstanding season in 2012-13, highlighted by the men's No. 8 national outdoor finish (best in school history), the men's No. 23 national indoor finish and the women's No. 4 SEC cross country finish (best in school history).

The team held its annual banquet last week to honor the accolades of last year's team and kick off the new 2013-14 season.

In addition to All-America honors, NCAA Championship participants and SEC Championship awards, here are some of the team awards that were presented by head coach Brian O'Neal at the banquet:

Men's Student-Athlete of the Year: Jonathan Redding
Women's Student-Athlete of the Year: Sofia Hellberg-Jonsen
Men's Outdoor Athlete of the Year: Sam Kendricks
Women's Outdoor Athlete of the Year: Mary Ashton Nall
Men's Indoor Athlete of the Year: Ricky Robertson
Women's Indoor Athlete of the Year: Asia Cooper




Ole Miss is 5-3 for the second straight year, as it enters its second bye week of the year before a final four-game stretch starting with Arkansas on Nov. 9 from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The previous stretch of games included three straight losses, then back-to-back wins over then-No. 6 LSU and Idaho.

"We could easily have a couple more wins, and we could easily have a couple more losses," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "You're mind usually concentrates on the ones you let get away, but you have to move on from those.  Winning the last two games has helped tremendously with that.  I believe we have gotten better at mostly every spot."

"(5-3 this year) feels a lot different because we have been through the meat of our schedule," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said "But at the same time, every SEC team is great, and we know we can't take a week off, or somebody will come up and beat you."

Entering the bye week, Freeze said he does think they can get quite a few of players back who didn't suffer season-ending injuries.

"I'm confident that Mike Hilton will be back, as well as Isaac Gross being healthy," Freeze said. "Charles Sawyer, we'll hold out this week and Denzel Nkemdiche, we held out the other night, and I see no reason for him to not be ready.  Robert Nkemdiche and Jeff Scott, I'll need to wait until next Monday to better answer that, but we're hopeful on them. Carlos Thompson, I am doubtful on, we're getting concerned on his nerve not firing in his arm, so hopefully we can catch on soon and he'll be back in a couple of weeks."

Preparation for Arkansas will start on Thursday, Freeze said, and they will get in an extra practice on Sunday night.

"This week will certainly help that because we'll need those guys for this stretch run that we have coming up with the three SEC games and the one out of conference game," Freeze said. "It gives us coaches a lot of time to start self-scouting us, and give us a jump start against Arkansas and scouting other opponents, as well as plan what we would like to add, take out or just plan a little differently.  We'll also get a chance to look at some young guys in practice too, and get us some depth."

A win over Arkansas would make the Rebels bowl eligible for the second straight year under Freeze. In this week's bowl projections, Greg Ostendorf from ESPN has Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl, while Jerry Palm from CBS Sports has them in the Gator Bowl.

"We all want to win these games, and let all that care of itself," Wallace said. "We know if we win these games, we'll be in a big-time bowl. And that's our goal. Our goal is not just getting to a bowl game this year; it's going to a big bowl game. It's taking that next step for our program."


"A few guys talk about it but not too often," junior defensive tackle Bryon Bennett said. "We try to keep a narrow focus and not look at the big picture. We know a lot of our remaining games are home, which is always an advantage for us with the energy and excitement."


Wallace, Brunetti Improve Decision-Making



Last year, Wallace threw 22 touchdown passes compared to 17 interceptions. Through eight games year, he has thrown 11 touchdowns to three interceptions. His interception ratio (interceptions per pass attempt) improvement from last year to this year ranks second in the SEC and sixth nationally.


Wallace also ranks fifth in the SEC and 31st nationally in total offense (266.2 ypg) and 5th in the SEC and 36th nationally in passing (247.0). His backup, senior Barry Brunetti, has completed 12-of-15 passes for 129 yards and five touchdowns in his last five games.


"It's been an on-going endeavor since last spring," Freeze said. "I think Dan Werner has done a really nice job of decreasing the package so there is no question of what to do and a clear understanding of what your read should be.  As the year has gone on we continue to cut back to make sure we put ourselves in position to take care of the ball and there should be no reason for us to not have great understanding of exactly what you're supposed to do and when.  


"I have to give a lot of credit to Dan Werner, as well as those two kids (Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti).  We must always take care of the football, and we've done a good job putting an emphasis on that also.  We've also been able to run the ball, which is a huge thing for anyone that understands what our offense is like.  When you're able to run the ball it gives you a little more time to throw, and the decisions become better."


Wallace's improved decision-making has even been apparent to him mid-play during games this year.


"It's just better decisions," Wallace said. "There have been a couple times rolling out, especially against LSU, I was thinking middle of the play, 'Last year, I probably try to fit the ball in there,' but then continuing to run and try to do as much as I can without trying to do too much. That has really helped me out."


Bennett Settling In At Defensive End



After playing the first five games, including two starts at defensive tackle, junior Bryon Bennett has started each of the past three game at defensive end, due in part to a season-ending injury to junior defensive end C.J. Johnson, as well as injuries to freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and junior defensive end Carlos Thompson.


"He likes defensive end," Freeze said. "He's played two really solid games there. He's a physical guy. His motor turns up out there, it seems like. Moving forward, it will be interesting for us to look at what the best combination is and how to go about getting our best players on the field. I have been as pleased as I have been in my year and a half with him."


In the last two games, Bennett has three tackles including a solo tackle and a tackle for loss. With Bennett at defensive end, the defense has recorded five sacks in those games, including a season-high three sacks against LSU.


"It's exciting," said Bennett, of defensive end. "There's more room to roam around. I have to back further off the ball to make sure I'm not offside. Other than that, it's a lot of fun."


Bennett said took about two or three practice to adjust to playing defensive end. He gave credit to senior offensive tackles Emmanuel McCray and Pierce Burton, as well as freshman offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, whom he faced in practice. The two biggest adjustments, he said, were his positioning and how he rushed the passer.


"I have to make sure I maintain my outside presence," Bennett said. "To pass rush, I have to run a lot more. Inside, it's a few steps and then you make a move. On the end, you have to run the edge and make sure the quarterback can't bounce outside the pocket."


No. 23 Ole Miss equals last year's win total, as it improves to 13-4-2 overall and 6-3-1 in Southeastern Conference play with a 2-1 win over Alabama on Sunday, courtesy two goals by senior Rafelle Souza, including the golden goal in the first overtime period.


"I'm really happy with our team defending well and tough," head coach Matt Mott said. "We got a good goal from Rafa early and a good goal from Rafa late. Mandy McCalla was a machine. I'm certainly happy coming out with three points."


The Rebels controlled play for much of the match, outshooting Alabama 26-4, but the teams went into overtime tied at 1-1. 


Then 6:40 into the first overtime period, on the Rebels' 12th corner kick of the match, Souza headed home the service of fellow senior Erin Emerson for the game-winner.


"One, you get scared because you don't want them to counter," Mott said. "But two, you feel like if you keep putting the ball in good spots, one of them is going to find the back of the net. I'm happy with the way we're playing. We have to find that net earlier and be more quality in front of goal.


It was Souza's second goal of the game, her team-leading 16th of the season. With two goals and four points on Sunday, she moved into second-place all-time in program with 38 career goals and stands alone in second place with 96 career points.


"She's a special player," Mott said. "We're so excited to have her, and she's having a really good senior year. She's been dominant in every game we have played, so I'm really happy for her. She means so much to our team. Our team together is so together, and that's really important."


"Ole Miss is a great program," Souza said. "I'm real proud of my team and my teammates because it's not just my effort."


The Rebels wrap up the regular season at home against Mississippi State next Thursday night, and then it's the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., the following week, where the top six teams get byes into the second round.


Ole Miss clinched a bye and at least a fifth-place finish with 19 points, three points ahead of LSU, with whom the Rebels own the tiebreaker. Ole Miss is also three points behind South Carolina for third place and two points behind Kentucky for fourth place.


"We have one more win we got to get to really lock ourselves into the NCAA Tournament," Mott said. "SEC-wise, we're in the top-six group, and that's where we want to be to get the bye in the first round. I'm certainly happy with the girls."

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Ole Miss Soccer held a "Dad and Daughter Day" this past Sunday, and it was another special day for superfan Sam Provenza and his daughter Mille Smith. 


Provenza, a World War II veteran who will turn 91 in January, and his daughter have formed a special bond with junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick from both attending mass at the St. John's Catholic Church.


"I met them through church," McCormick said. "I didn't have anyone to go with at 8:30 in the morning, and so they introduced themselves and adopted me as if I was their child. He has really supported me in my sports and academics. He is an amazing man and he has an amazing story in what he has been through in his life, so I am really happy to be a part of their family."


"I'm living with my daughter, and Kelly is good friends with her from church, so I got interested in her, and I started coming to games this year," Provenza said. "I talk to her about the game and everything. She's a fine young lady and has devoted most of her time to charity and trying to get into veterinary school."

 

Provenza has attended every Ole Miss home soccer match this season as he recovers from cancer surgery. It was during that time after surgery that his bond with McCormick grew stronger.


"He just had cancer surgery on Feb. 1 for the left parotid gland," Smith said. "We know Kelly from church, and she would always sit with us, and she came on some really dark days for my dad to cheer him on in his cancer recovery, and he is here to cheer her on for soccer and the rest of the girls."


Provenza and Smith arrived early before kickoff, and then stayed after the match, a 1-1 draw with No. 7 South Carolina. Following her post-match responsibilities, McCormick returned to the bleachers at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium, and visited with them, as she does after every home match.


"That means a lot to me," Provenza said. "She feels like she's one of my daughters. I have three daughters, so she's my fourth daughter."


"It touches me dearly that he would take his time to come watch a game," McCormick said. "He could be doing other things. He has a special place in my heart, so I really enjoy that he's here with me."


The Ole Miss offense racked up 572 yards of total offense, including 292 on the ground, as the Rebels rolled to a 59-14 win over Idaho on Saturday. It was the most total yards and points by an Ole Miss team in the Hugh Freeze era.


With senior Jeff Scott out with a thigh bruise, the sophomore tandem of I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton carried the load at running back for the second-straight game. 


Freshmen Mark Dodson and Kailo Moore also saw action, as Dodson set career highs with seven carries for 57 rushing yards and recorded his first career touchdown with a 30-yard reception from senior quarterback Barry Brunetti.


"They're all competing, and we'll sort it out," Freeze said. "We'll try to have some packages and keep them fresh for all of the guys that are healthy. Those two guys, along with Dodson and Kailo, they all did some good things tonight. I'Tavius and Jaylen certainly looked solid."


Mathers, who carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards in last week's win over No. 6 LSU, notched his first career 100-yard rushing game with 138 yards on 14 carries, including a career-long 64-yard run for a touchdown.


Against LSU, Walton led the way for the Rebels, as he set career highs with 106 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. On Saturday, he rushed 11 times for 86 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was his second straight game with two rushing touchdowns, and he now leads the team with five rushing touchdowns this year.


When Scott returns from the injury Ole Miss will have three running with more than 300 yards rushing this season. Scott leads the team with 434 yards on 53 carries and two touchdowns, followed by the sophomore tandem.


Mathers is second on the team with 326 yards on 48 carries and two touchdowns, and Walton, who now leads the team with five touchdowns, has 321 yards on 64 carries.


"We're going to sit down and talk about it because those guys have done a really good job," said offensive coordinator Dan Werner of Mathers and Walton. "I was really pleased, and I know Coach Freeze is too. We have to see. They will play and definitely get some snaps."


Among the players who don't normally see significant playing time, Dodson and Moore stood out for Freeze.


"The first guy that jumps out at me would be Dodson," Freeze said. "He showed some explosion and physical runs. He has to take care of the ball better. Kailo showed some good burst on swing route. We think both of them are really good players. We have some good players at that spot."

The second annual Square Jam will be held on the Oxford Square Friday from 6:30-7:30 p.m., as part of this weekend's Homecoming festivities. The men's and women's basketball teams will participate in variety of drills and skills competitions to unofficially kick off the start of the season.

The event started when Ole Miss decided to do something with Midnight Madness, where they wanted to take basketball where their fans were going to be, so they did that by taking a basketball court to the Square in the parking lot in front of City Hall.


"We were in this external team for men's basketball, and I showed a picture of an outdoor basketball tournament," Hudspeth said. "And we started throwing around the concept of putting a basketball court on the Square. Initially, it was just a thought. The more we talked about it, Brian Russell, one of our event managers, said 'Why not, let's look into it.'"


"And so I threw a couple of lines in the water to see what kind of response we would get, and the responses started becoming more positive, so we pursued it. We found out how much a floor would cost, and if the city would allow us to do it. When the city said they would allow us to do it, that's when it took off full speed. Within a couple of weeks, we had basically planned the entire event and had the floor ordered, and it was ready to roll."


The original plan was for the inaugural event to be held this year, but head men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy, Hudspeth said, really pushed and wanted to do it last year, and so they were able to put it all together in a short amount of time.


"Coach Kennedy, for a long time, really wanted to figure out a way to do some type of opening to basketball season," Hudspeth said. "And he felt like this was the perfect transition with us wrapping it into the Homecoming parade and a home football weekend, so people could start getting a basketball mentality into their brains."


During last year's event, Derrick Millinghaus won the knockout contest while the team of Nick Williams and Gracie Frizzell won the three-point content, and Aaron Jones won the dunk contest. Both teams will participate in all three events again this year, with a game of H-O-R-S-E as a possible addition.


Micah GInn, Director of Creative Services, will serve as the emcee, and Athletics Director Ross Bjork, women's basketball coach Matt Insell and Rebel Rewards member Colleen Haadsma (@chaadsma) will serve as the judges for the dunk contest. 


This year's event will also feature a few more additions to enrich the fan experience, some more noticeable than others.


"This year, we're going to have the Ole Miss logo in the center of the court," Hudspeth said. "That will be a neat addition. This year, we're adding a video board, which we have never done. It will be right next to the court and will face back toward the fans. It is an 11 x 17 foot video board, which is a pretty big size. We're going to have a camera crew out there and be able to show videos and starting lineups."


Among the other improvements are more bleachers on the three sides surrounding the court, better lighting, and added restrooms behind City Hall are among the other improvements for this year's event. Also, particularly in the event of colder weather, both players' benches will be completely heated.


The event itself lasts an hour, and within two hours last year, Hudspeth said, the Square was back open and running. However, it's a full day for him and his staff, which will then turn around to staff Saturday's Homecoming game against Idaho, with a kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.


"We have been working on the planning process for months," he said. "On Friday, we will start probably around 11 a.m., myself and our marketing will go to the Square and set up a command center-type area where we have all the materials that we need for Square Jam, and we hang out all day." 


"It will take us about three to four hours to set everything up and have it ready to roll. The Homecoming parade starts at 5:30, and it's usually over by 6:30. We'll start our event at 6:30, and it should be over by 7:30. At about 7:45, we start taking everything down, and we're usually done by 9. Last year, I remember getting in my car to go home at 9:20. It's a full day."



Through the first seven games of the season, Ole Miss has played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to Sagarin's ratings. The Rebels (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) continue to their six-game home stand over seven weeks, as they welcome FBS Independent Idaho (1-6) for Homecoming this Saturday, with a kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. on CSS.


"We got to put it away and move forward," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "The gauntlet that we have gone through, it's taken a toll on us some physically and mentally. We certainly need to continue moving in the right direction in all areas. We got a team coming in this week that I'm sure will nothing to lose playing in an SEC home and have a chance to make some noise, just like many teams did last weekend. We don't want to be on the other end of that, so we have got to regain our kids' focus and elevate our concentration to do the little things right."


"It's going to make us a better team at the end of the year, just going through that stretch and playing such good competition," senior offensive lineman Emmanuel McCray said. "But we have to go out there and play every Saturday either way, no matter who we're playing, but it's good to get it out of the way. That was a tough, tough stretch."


Idaho is coached by Paul Petrino, who is in his first year as a collegiate head coach, having previously served as offensive coordinator at Louisville, Arkansas and Illinois. The Vandals' lone win was a 26-24 victory over winless Temple on Sept. 28, but did have close 45-35 loss to current No. 22-ranked Northern Illinois on Sept. 24.


"On game day, the team felt a little bit sleepy," said McCray, of Ole Miss' 31-13 win over Southeast Missouri. "We came out slow. We learned the lesson from that game and Auburn that we have to start fast, and we have to be passionate, no matter who we're playing. We have to be high energy because that's our identity. We play with passion, and we let that carry over on the field."


"As big as (the LSU win) was for us and the fan base, if we could go out there and don't show up against Idaho, that win doesn't really mean a lot," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We know who we're playing this week, and we'll prepare just like they're any other team."



Wallace Has 'Best Game' Of Ole Miss Career



Junior quarterback Bo Wallace completed 30-of-39 passes for 346 yards, his third-straight 300-yard passing game, as the Ole Miss offense racked up 525 yards of total offense in the 27-24 win over No. 6 LSU.


"Bo played his best game he's played since he's been here," Freeze said. "I can only find two things to complain about, and hopefully we can get those cleaned up, and him play an even more complete game. Dan (Werner) did a great job with him all week making sure he understood our plan exactly."


"We needed a game like that," Wallace said. "We put up a lot of points against A&M. We knew that we were going to have to put up a lot of points with the defense and the injuries that they had. Everybody prepared, we got the game plan down early in the week, and then everybody executed.


The Rebels converted 11-of-18 third downs on Saturday, including two third downs on the game-winning drive, capped by senior kicker Andrew Ritter's 41-yard field goal. Facing 3rd-and-6, Wallace ran for six yards, then facing 3rd-and-9, Wallace connected with senior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan for a 13-yard completion.


"We had to do something," said Wallace, of the final drive. "We couldn't leave it in the defense's hands again. We couldn't leave it anybody else's hands. We had to go down and score, and that's exactly what we did."


Wallace passed Archie Manning on the Ole Miss career passing yards list into seventh-place all-time (4,784), 187 passing yards behind Mark Young for sixth place. He also ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense (278.9 ypg) and fifth in passing (255.7 ypg).


Along the way, Wallace has also picked up the nickname Dr. Bo, which he said he knew about on Monday.


"Yeah, I am aware of it," Wallace said. "It came for a video game or something like that, so yeah I am aware of it... It's cool, I guess."


Engram Out For Season, Parker's Role To Increase


Freshman tight end Evan Engram underwent season-ending surgery on Monday, Freeze said, to repair his high ankle sprain. The Powder Springs, Ga., native ranked fourth on the team in receptions (20), third in receiving yards (265) and second in touchdowns (3). His 20 catches rank seventh-place all-time by a freshman in Ole Miss history. 


"We lost Evan Engram for the year, which is a tough loss for us. He was on track to be a freshman All-American. He's a tremendous kid and was very important to our scheme. We don't have another one like him who can win some one-on-ones in space and do the blocking that we were asking him to do. Everyone knows the situation we are in at that position, so that's a difficult loss. And it's even worse because you know what these kids put in. He's such a great kid and going to be a tremendous leader for this program for years to come."


"It's going to change a little bit because he was that guy that we could go 11 personnel and do a lot of different things with, flex him out and things like that," said Wallace, of the loss of Engram. "Of course, it's going to change. It hurts me a little bit, not having him to stretch the field, but Nick Parker caught a touchdown, so he has to get prepared to play this week and be ready to go."


Senior Nicholas Parker, who caught a 3-yard touchdown pass against LSU, his first career reception and touchdown, is now listed as the starter at tight end. Seniors Jack Nuismer, Parker's backup on this week's depth chart, and Justin Bigham have also seen action in six games this year.


"Nick is a joy around this program," Freeze said. "He is loved by his teammates. He makes people laugh and goes to work every day. He's a local kid. So when he caught that touchdown, there was a lot of excitement and joy for him. His role will increase some, but we're different with him. He doesn't do some of the things that Evan could do, but he can do some things, so we'll certainly start using him more. And probably Justin Bigham and maybe (Jack Nuismer), those will be the three guys you will see right now."


Senior kicker Andrew Ritter hit a 41-yard field goal with two seconds left to give Ole Miss the 27-24 victory over No. 6 LSU, its first win over a top-10 ranked opponent since 2009. 


Moments later, amid the postgame celebration, the ESPN cameras found senior offensive linemen Jared Duke and Patrick Junen carrying a Gatorade cooler and looking for head coach Hugh Freeze.


"With two seconds left for the kickoff, we were just a little bit concerned," Duke said. "Obviously, everyone was. They had the big lateral play and stuff. We weren't going to do it then. We were going to wait until the game was secure. We got the Gatorade container and couldn't find Coach Freeze at all. 


"There were students on the field and everything. It was just madness after the game for sure. Eventually, we did find him. Watching ESPN and everything, they singled us out while we were just kind of standing there. We were actually waiting on Coach to get done with an interview. It's funny. It's laughable. I have received a lot of tweets, which have been real funny."


For offensive linemen such as Duke and Junen, it was a rare moment in the limelight, as they helped Ole Miss rack up 525 yards of total offense in the win. In their respective four-year careers, Duke has played in 41 career games with 11 starts, including six starts at right guard this year, while Junen has played in 40 career games with 11 starts.


"They found us," said Duke of the ESPN cameras. "It wasn't exactly what we had in mind when we were planning on giving him the Gatorade bath. We wanted Gatorade because you had to see the green. Absolutely. You can't just pour water on him. It was completely spur of the moment."


Like Duke said, they found Freeze. It just took a little while.


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Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian


"We found him right away," Duke continued. "We figured he was at the 50-yard line, but we didn't want to interrupt any big moments or the coaches' meeting, so we waited, then he went to straight to an interview, so we had to wait a little bit longer, but it was funny. Everyone was laughing about it."


Undoubtedly both Ritter's kick, as well as the few seconds of Duke and Junen carrying the Gatorade cooler, will go down in the rich history of the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry.


"I hope it's Ritter's kick," said Duke, of what people will remember 10 years from now. "I don't want to take anything from that. 


"And I was telling Coach (Matt) Luke afterwards, 'Man, I hope this doesn't find its way 30 years down the line when I'm at a job, and it shows up every now and then in the workplace. I'm a little worried about that. It will probably happen, and it will be funny then, too."










After 1-0 win over Vanderbilt the previous week, Ole Miss re-entered the polls at No. 24 and then finished the weekend with four points -- a 1-0 win on the road at No. 25 LSU and a 1-1 tie at home against No. 7 South Carolina.


The Rebels improved to 12-3-2 overall and 5-2-1 in Southeastern Conference play and moved into a three-way tie for fourth place with LSU and South Carolina.


"It's a fantastic weekend for us, and four huge points for the SEC (Tournamnet), and we have to keep rolling," head coach Matt Mott said. "This team believes. That's four games in a row we're unbeaten. We got a big game next Friday. I'm happy with them and the way we're playing and competing and looking forward to the last three."


Against South Carolina on Sunday, Ole Miss fell behind 1-0 after a goal in the sixth minute, but junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick kept it a one-goal game, as she made four save in the first half to get to halftime.


"Without her, we lose that game, 2-0, 3-0, in the first half," Mott said. "They just pounded us. We were able to get into halftime and adjust and come back out with better energy and effort. Kelly was huge."


"I was in the right position in the right time," McCormick said of her six saves in the match. "Coach Rob (Thompson) has really been helping me in practice and we have been simulating some scenarios that would happen in the game, and some of them happened, so I was able to be in the right spot at the right time and make those saves.



A pair of great individual efforts netted the equalizer in the 76th minutes for the Rebels, as sophomore midfielder Jennifer Miller connected with sophomore midfielder Olivia Harrison, who slid the ball past the goalkeeper for her fifth goal of the season.


Already without sophomore defender Samantha Sanders, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the season, Ole Miss also suffered injuries to redshirt freshman Georgia Russell and freshman Melissa Capocaccia, who also play on the back line for the Rebels. 


"A couple of ankle injuries," Mott said. "Georgia's is more severe than Melissa's, so we hope they're going to be OK. Georgia is probably going to be out for a while, but I think Melissa will be back, hopefully quickly."


Senior Maddie Cunningham stepped up and logged 46 minutes off the bench in their place and then nearly gave Ole Miss a 2-1 lead late in the second half, but her shot from way, way out hit off the top of the goal. 


"They're playing so hard and battling," said Mott of the back line. "I'm proud of every one of them. And Kelly is doing fantastic for us. That's keeping us in games that we would have lost in the past. It's keeping us winning and tying and keeping us going toward our goals."


"I was really disappointed we kept injured in the back, but Maddie Cunningham stepped it up and made some really good tackles and plays, so we're really happy with her performance," McCormick said.


The Rebels carry their fourth-match unbeaten streak into another split home-away weekend, on the road at SEC-leading Texas A&M on Friday, then back at home against Alabama on Sunday. 


"I think we're right there," said Mott of NCAA Tournament consideration, "Our RPI is good. We have good games left. If we can take care of business, I think we have a good chance of getting an (NCAA Tournament) bid."



In head coach Hugh Freeze's first season at Ole Miss, the Rebels gained bowl eligibility with a 41-24 win over in-state rival Mississippi State, then rolled to a 38-17 win in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Pittsburgh.


A year later, after a consensus top-10 recruiting class, Freeze and the Rebels won a pair of road games at Vanderbilt and Texas, but Saturday's 27-24 win over No. 6 LSU marked a signature victory of a different kind. It was Ole Miss' first win over a top-10 foe since defeating then-No. 8 LSU in 2009.


But Ole Miss had been close under Freeze. 


In last year's meeting in Baton Rouge, La., the Rebels lost a 41-35 shootout to then-No. 8 LSU, and just last week, the Rebels lost a 41-38 heartbreaker to then-No. 9 Texas A&M in Oxford, but Saturday proved to be a breakthrough for the program.


"I couldn't be more proud of that and those kids to go through what they've been though, with the injuries and the outside world having their opinion of things," Freeze said. "In the back of your mind, you always wonder as a coach if you can get a team ready to do things like this when you're shorthanded and coming off an extremely disappointing loss."


"I was really emotional," said junior quarterback Bo Wallace, who passed for over 300 yards for the third straight game.  "I almost lost it. I almost cried. It felt like everything was lifted off of us. It was just an emotional time. I'm so excited for our guys and our defense, for them to play the way they did with the starters they had out."


With 3:15 left in a tied 24-24 game, Ole Miss had the ball on its own 15-yard line. As part of a 14-play, 61-yard drive that included two third-down conversions of 3rd-and-6 and a 3rd-and-9, the Rebels had driven the ball to the LSU 24. 


It was a shot at redemption for senior kicker Andrew Ritter, whose 29-yard field goal was blocked earlier in the quarter with a chance to make it a two-possession lead for Ole Miss, and he drilled the 41-yard field goal to give the Rebels a 27-24 lead with two seconds left on the clock.


"I'm happy for Andrew Ritter," Freeze said. "He asked to be redshirted his senior year last year to come back. That kick will make memories for a lifetime for him, to beat one of your biggest rivals, to recapture the Magnolia Bowl for Ole Miss. I'm glad it worked out for him."


"It felt really good," said Ritter of the kick off his foot. "You know when you hit a good ball, and you know when you hit a bad ball, and when I hit that ball, I knew I hit it good."


With injuries all over the place, the Ole Miss defense held LSU well under its 41.4 points per game average and pitched a first-half shutout, the first time the Tigers had been shutout in the first half since a 21-0 loss to Alabama in the 2012 BCS National Championship. 


"Dave (Wommack) and his staff did a great job with preparing those kids, being so shorthanded and having to shorten practices because of that," Freeze said. "I sat in on their meetings this week more than I ever had before, and the plan he had I thought was really good."


That first half also saw three interceptions, including two in the end zone, of LSU senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who led the SEC and ranked fourth in the nation in pass efficiency and had thrown 15 touchdowns compared to two interceptions entering the game.


"They were huge," said Freeze of the interceptions. "It kept our crowd alive and in the game. It kept the lead and momentum with us, and it gave our kids on defense more confidence."


"They came at critical points in the game," said junior safety Cody Prewitt, who intercepted his team-high fourth interception Saturday. "Those were huge, huge plays. It turned the game for us. They were big plays for us instead of big plays for them. That's what you have to do. You have to make those kind of plays in critical moments in the game, and we really did that."


On the other side of the ball, led by Wallace, the Ole Miss offense eclipsed 500 yards of total offense for just the second time this season. Wallace completed 30-of-39 passes for 346 yards, and passed Archie Manning on the Ole Miss career passing yards list into seventh-place all-time.


And in the place of injured senior Jeff Scott, sophomore Jaylen Walton rushed 18 times for a career-high 105 yards and a career-high two touchdowns.


"We lined up and we ran the football against a really good defense," Freeze said. "... I have great confidence in Jaylen and (I'Tavius Mathers). I see them every day and think they're very talented. Jaylen does some things in the zone game that are pretty special. He has a little hesitation move and quick acceleration. He did really well tonight and protected the football."


In the win-loss column, Ole Miss improves to 4-3 and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference games with a home game against Idaho next week, a bye week, then a final four-game stretch of the regular season, but Freeze also looked at the bigger picture.


"There are some really good recruits in that locker room and we had some really good ones here last weekend that see we're really close, and we could use a little help because we're not where we need to be depth-wise at certain spots," Freeze said. "My mind always goes to that.


"We didn't make plays the other night to win it at the end. And tonight, we did. We made the catch on third down. We made the kick. We made the pass breakup or interception. No question, it helps us in recruiting, which will help us ultimately get where we all want to go."


Rebel Shooter

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Ole Miss rifle freshman Ali Weisz has participated in every event this fall for the Rebels, who are ranked No. 14 in the nation and headed to the Bluegrass state to face No. 2 Kentucky, Saturday.  Last weekend, she shot a season best 583 in air rifle against No. 3 Alaska-Fairbanks.  Learn how Weisz got her start in rifle, how she ended up at Ole Miss and what life is like in Oxford for the Belgrade, Mt. native, in this feature from her hometown paper.

Rebel Shooter - Belgrade News

Follow Rebel rifle on Twitter, @OleMissRifle and on Facebook at OleMissRifle
Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.

After going through a "laundry list" on injuries in Monday's weekly press conference, head coach Hugh Freeze had some good news on Wednesday with the possible return of defensive tackle Issac Gross and linebacker Temario Strong.

"It looks like we might get Issac (Gross) and Temario (Strong) back," said Freeze after practice on Wednesday. "Temario surprised us today and was moving around quite a bit better than what they expected. We might get him back. Those are the only two I expect at this point to get back."


Ole Miss was hit particularly hard on the defensive side of the ball, where it is expected to be without starting defensive ends Robert Nkemdiche and C.J. Johnson, as well as starting cornerback Mike Hilton and backup defensive end Carlos Thompson.


"We ain't got but so many," said Freeze Tuesday of defensive line. "We're going to play four down linemen. I really don't know who is playing exactly where right now."


Bryon Bennett, listed as a co-starter at defensive tackle with Carlton Martin, also got some reps at defensive end in practice this week, opposite senior defensive end Cameron Whigham.


"It was fun," said Bennett of defensive end, where he also started against Texas A&M last week. "I played a little in high school, but there's still a lot to get used with adjustments and stuff... There's more reading. It's more fun going against the tackle.


"It's a next-man-up attitude. Everybody is excited for the game and wants this win. We're trying to stay fresh, stay healthy and be ready for the game." 


Defensive lineman Bryon Bennett meets with members of the media following Tuesday's practice.

Starting running back and leading rusher Jeff Scott was held out of practice Tuesday and Wednesday, and Freeze said Wednesday that he doesn't expect him to play on Saturday. The running back position would then fall on I'Tavius Mathers (22 carries, 137 yards for the season) and Jaylen Walton (34 carries, 129 yards).


"I feel good," said Freeze Wednesday of Mathers and Walton. "Both of them have proven they're ready to have that responsibility that comes their way. I have been pleased with their performance and think we'll be fine there."


"I feel like we can pick it up," said Mathers Wednesday. "We always have to be ready. I just have to play my role."


The injuries have also affected the special teams units, such as punt return, where Freeze said Wednesday that wide receiver Korvic Neat would return punts in Scott's absence, with Trae Elston as his backup. 


Cornerback Carlos Davis, who Freeze called "a great cover guy," will be back this week, and the possible return of Strong will also help the special teams units, but Freeze said Tuesday it did take a hit this week, and they're going to have to call on guys to play even more snaps because of injuries.


The injuries may also affect tempo, as Freeze said the Rebels will likely use a similar strategy to last week against Texas A&M.


"We managed the first half not going tempo to try to limit the opportunities that Texas A&M had and get to halftime in the game, and it worked," said Freeze Tuesday. "We were probably more patient than we would be, but it worked, and it gave us a chance at the end. We will probably manage the tempo similarly this week."


 
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with members of the media following Tuesday's practice.

Offensive line coach Matt Luke meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.

Six Rebels Make Phil Steele Midseason All-SEC Teams

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Six Ole Miss Rebels were named to Phil Steele's Midseason All-SEC Teams on Wednesday, including first-team picks Serderius Bryant (linebacker) and Cody Prewitt (defensive back).

Senior Jeff Scott made the second team as a punt returner, while third-teamers were junior Donte Moncrief (wide receiver), freshman Evan Engram (tight end) and senior Andrew Ritter (kicker).

Bryant, a junior from Sanford, Fla., leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally with 11.0 tackles per game. He has 55 tackles in five games as the starter at stinger linebacker and was recently named to the Bednarik Award Watch List for the nation's top defensive player.

Prewitt, a junior from Bay Springs, Miss., is second on the team with 35 tackles and first with three interceptions and eight passes defended. He is tied for the SEC lead with 1.33 passes defended per game and tied for second in the SEC with 0.5 interceptions per outing.

Scott would lead the SEC with a 19.6-yard punt return average if he had enough to qualify. In addition to being one of the league's top rushers, the Miami, Fla., native returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown against Texas and was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week. He is on the Paul Hornung Award Watch List for the nation's most versatile player.

Moncrief was a preseason All-SEC second team pick by Phil Steele and a third-team selection by the media outlet after last season. The Raleigh, Miss., native leads the team in receiving yards (358) and touchdown catches (4). He is on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List for the nation's top receiver.

Engram, who hails from Powder Springs, Ga., has enjoyed a fantastic rookie season with 18 catches, 237 yards and three TDs through the first six games. He is second among SEC freshmen in receiving yards per game (behind teammate Laquon Treadwell) and first in touchdown catches.

In his first season as the team's placekicker, Ritter has made seven of nine field goals with makes from 42, 42, 44 and 52 yards. The strong-legged kicker from Jackson, Miss., also has booted touchbacks on 22 of 35 kickoffs.


Coming off a heartbreaking 41-38 loss to then-No. 9 Texas A&M this past Saturday, Ole Miss plays its third top-10 ranked opponent in four games with No. 6 LSU. The Rebels will try to snap a three-game losing streak, as they also deal with a lot of injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.


"(Sunday), I thought was pretty good, and I know our coaches how we will handle it, said head coach Hugh Freeze of the team's confidence. "And talking to Coach Jackson this morning, he was pleased with the attitudes they had in workouts (Sunday). I just keep coming back to my experience with these kids, and they bounce back and will fight. And that gives me confidence to walk out there tomorrow with the same swagger we hope to have every Saturday."


"We're still confident," quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We played a tough schedule, but we're not using that as an excuse. We're 3-3, and we have a big game this weekend."


Among the injured players is junior Serderius Bryant, who left the Texas A&M game after being carted off on a stretcher. Bryant, Freeze said, suffered a concussion, then rejoined the team in meetings on Sunday and has started the concussion protocol to return.


On the field, Bryant had recently been added to the Bednarik Award Watch List and leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally with 11 tackles per game, including a team-leading 12 tackles and forced fumble against Texas A&M.


"I'm extremely proud of him," Freeze said. "He runs the ball as passionately as any kid that we have, and he's a sold tackler once he gets there. He finishes plays. To lose him not only in that game, but to be without him going forward, if that's the case, it would be a big hit to us. 


"He's responsible for a lot of tackles, and I'm proud of him as the person he has become, on and off the field. He is making much better decisions for himself and how he goes about living, with academics and the social responsibility we're trying to get out kids to understand. I'm proud of the year he is having."



Freeze called it a "laundry list" of injuries, and it includes Aaron Morris, who was already out, starting running back and leading rusher Jeff Scott, starting defensive ends Robert Nkemdiche and C.J. Johnson, starting nose tackle Issac Gross and starting cornerback Mike Hilton.


Also among the injured is backup linebacker Temario Strong, backup quarterback Barry Brunetti, backup safety Chief Brown and backup defensive end Carlos Thompson.


"The other injuries, you see other teams go through it, and unfortunately we joined the ranks with them," Freeze said. "... It's part of the game. You hate it for the kids and you fear that because of our depth issue, we won't be able to adequately represent the progress we're making against these top teams. That's part of the game, like I said, and we won't blink. We will get the ones we have ready that can play, and I know they will compete with great passion for university Saturday evening."


"It's tough," said Wallace of the injuries. "You feel bad for the guys, but at the same time, we still have a long season and we have to be prepared to paly this week. There a lot of defensive guys out, so offensively, we have to put up some points."


When asked about who is out for Saturday's game, Freeze said "most of them."


"Not sure about Barry," Freeze said. "I don't know that he injured it any worse than it was, so hopefully he will be fine. Issac will try to go, I'm sure. I doubt Temario will make it, Robert no, Serderius I'm not sure, C.J. probably not, Carlos definitely not, Hilton doubtful. We have a challenge ahead of us."


If something should happen, and Bo Wallace nor Brunetti would be available, Devante Kincade would the guy to get to the nod, Freeze said. If Brunetti is out for Saturday's game against LSU, Freeze said he would not have a guaranteed package for Kincade, like has had for Brunetti, but they would have him ready to play.


"Devante is the guy we have said would get the nod to go should something happen," Freeze said. "We'll get him prepared to go, and again, you always struggle with what's in the best interest in the kid. But we also have to look at what's best for our team with six games left to play. We're inching forward in our progress in getting better and having chances to win, and we probably wouldn't hesitate to put him in if that's what's best for our team.


"The only way that Devante would be the backup is if I felt like we didn't have Bo nor Barry available. We're certainly not, at this point, not going to burn a redshirt on a young man that I don't know if, at this point, would be further ahead of either one of them in game-type situations."


How ready is Kincade?


"I would be comfortable with Devante doing some things," Freeze said. "We have yet to see how he is going to respond in front of 62,000 against a rival of your school. I don't know if that's fair to him to expect miracles. I think he's going to be a very good player, and I wouldn't hesitate to put him in if that's what's best for our football team."


The Comeback Team

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Boxx_Guthrie_n.jpgFormer Ole Miss women's tennis All-Americans Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie won their second doubles title together Sunday, and they gave the patrons their money's worth, winning a third-set supertiebreaker to clinch the inaugural ButlerCars.com Tennis Classic in Macon, Ga. They defeated Emily Harman and Elizabeth Lumpkin of the United States for the win. 

Boxx and Guthrie almost didn't make it to the final.  They were down a set and 5-1 in the semifinals, but rallied to win that match 13-11 in the third set supertiebreaker.  Falling behind on Sunday was no big deal.

After Harman and Lumpkin won the first set 6-3, they broke right away in the second to go up 2-0, but Boxx and Guthrie fought back.  Both Harman and Lumpkin served for the title, but each time, Boxx and Guthrie broke to extend the match to a tiebreaker.  They won the second set breaker 7-6(4) and then jumped out to an early lead in the third set breaker going on to win it 10-4 for their second victory.

"We had a great tournament, it feels awesome to get a title after a couple of finals," Boxx said. "Abby and I played tough throughout the week, when we got down in matches we fought our way back and didn't give up." 

Doubles is all about chemistry and familiarity, and Boxx and Guthrie have both, after playing together for two years at Ole Miss before taking their game to the pro circuit.

"When we got down, we just kept telling each other to have fun and keep battling, and that seemed to work for us," Guthrie said. "I think it probably helps us that we played a lot of doubles together at Ole Miss, and many of the teams we play against don't have a regular partner. We both feel like we know each other's every move."

Sunday's win marked their second title of the year and first stateside.  Back in July, the duo captured their first pro doubles title in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. 

At Ole Miss, Boxx and Guthrie teamed up for a top-10 ranking and led the Rebels to an SEC West title and four NCAA appearances, including the Sweet Sixteen in 2010.  

Next up for the duo is another $25,000 tournament, the Rocks Open in Rock Hills, S.C.  "We're playing well, and we are both looking forward to this upcoming week," Boxx said.

Follow me on Twitter, @krebel


The upset bid fell short, as No. 9 Texas A&M hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to win 41-38 over Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night.


"Obviously we are very disappointed for our kids," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "They fought their guts out and played their hearts out against a very good football team and had their chances to win. It really boils down to we had a chance to make some play and didn't, and they did. There were a lot of things that could have happened but didn't."


The Rebels (3-3, 1-3) took a 38-31 lead with 6:05 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Bo Wallace hit Jaylen Walton on a wheel route down the Ole Miss sideline that went 50 yards for a touchdown.


Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Aggies (5-1, 2-1) answered right back and tied the game at 38-38, then after its defense forced a three-and-out, Manziel orchestrated another drive, capped by the game-winning field goal.


"We were up in the game, and at that point, the game should have been over," safety Cody Prewitt said. "That's on the defense. We made too mistakes and didn't tackle well in the first half. They made plays where we didn't."



In the shootout, the Ole Miss offense had five passing touchdowns, three by Wallace and two by Barry Brunetti. They completed passes to nine different receivers, led by Laquon Treadwell, who a caught a team-high eight passes for 77 yards and his first two career touchdowns.


Wallace completed 22-of-36 passes for 301 yards, his second-straight 300-yard passing game, giving him five for his career, which is second in school history behind Eli Manning. And Brunetti, who had previously thrown just one career touchdown pass, completed 3-of-4 passes for 28 yards and his first two touchdown passes of the season. 


Then, on the other sideline, the story for Texas A&M was Manziel, who led the Southeastern Conference and ranked sixth nationally in total offense, averaging 360.6 yards per game. On Saturday, he completed 31-of-39 passes for 346 yards and rushed for 113 yards. He finished with two total touchdowns, both on the ground, including the game-tying touchdown.


"It's extremely hard to contain him," Prewitt said. "We had a great scheme lined up, and he was still able to make plays. He's a tremendous athlete. The way he extends plays really takes a toll on you. That was the biggest thing. Even though the coverage was fine, he was able to make plays where not many people could."


"He's a beast," said Brunetti of Manziel. "He's just good. He's a different type of dude. I have never played against a guy like that. We knew going into the game that A&M had a great offense. We knew we had to score, but we also knew our defense would step up, and they did. They stepped up. Manziel is a good player, and A&M has a great offense."



And the Ole Miss defense stepped up with two big second-half turnovers, which gave the Rebels a chance. Leading 21-17 late in the third quarter, Texas A&M was driving at the Ole Miss 10-yard line, then Keith Lewis intercepted a Manziel pass in the end zone. 


After a Texas A&M field goal and a game-tying Ole Miss touchdown, Serderius Bryant forced a Manziel fumble, which Trae Elston recovered. Three plays later, the Rebels took their first lead of the game on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to Treadwell.


"I thought the plan we had worked, and gave us a chance," Freeze said. "We want to formulate a plan that gives us a chance in the fourth quarter to win the football game. We had the ball and had a chance. We didn't get it done."

Ole Miss continues its six-game home stand as it welcomes No. 10 LSU next Saturday with a kickoff set for 6 p.m. The Tigers improved to 6-1 and 3-1 in SEC play on Saturday with a 17-6 win over Florida.

"It's hard to bounce back," Brunetti said. "We got to try to get these young guys to bounce back because they haven't been through this. Most of the older guys like me, we have been through it when things weren't good. We can bounce back. We have a long season and a lot to play for."



Senior forward Mandy McCalla netted the game-winner, as Ole Miss improved to 11-3-1 and 4-2 in SEC play with a 1-0 win over Vanderbilt on Friday night. The defense, led by junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, posted its seventh shutout of the season.


"It's a really good win for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "Defensively, we played really well against three great forwards on Vanderbilt. And then we created a lot on the other side. We couldn't get them to go in, but we created a lot, which was important.


"I'm proud of the way we battled and fought and kept them off the board, and then Mandy got a good goal for us. I'm happy with what we created. Some nights they go in, some nights they don't. Tonight, we hit too many posts and too many at the keeper."


Ole Miss outshot Vanderbilt 30-5 but did not find the back of net until the 58th minute when McCalla scored her 11th goal of the season off a deflection from a shot by sophomore midfielder Jennifer Miller.


"All of us tonight hit every single part of the goal except the back of the net," McCalla said. "We had a lot of opportunities to be creative and attack them, and then to score one, it was relieving."


"It was huge to settle the game down a little bit for us," Mott said. "We were pressing and pressing and pressing. A lot of times you get out of that first half and you haven't scored a goal and you had some good chances, you start to get tighter, so Mandy did a good job of finishing that off for us and getting us a lead and then we could settle down and continue to play."


Sophomore Jessica Hiskey, who started all 22 games on the backline for the Rebels last year, got the start in place of sophomore Samantha Sanders, who suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's 3-1 win over Georgia. She and her teammates helped shutout Vanderbilt for just the second time this season.


"I was a little nervous coming in, just this week being back in the starting lineup, but I was really prepared and look forward to working hard in the coming weeks," Hiskey said. "My teammates gave me confidence that I could come in and do well and kept me upbeat during the game."


"She was a left back for us last year, and then we moved her into the center tonight," Mott said. "She fought like crazy. She's one of the toughest kids on our team. Her effort in there tonight was just awesome for her first start after the injury and then play 90 minutes, I'm just really happy with her."


After a week off, the Rebels return to the pitch for a split home-and-away weekend against two of the top teams in the SEC. They travel to Baton Rouge to take on conference leader LSU on Friday, then return home for a match against No. 13 South Carolina on Sunday.


"I like where we are," Mott said. "We're doing a good job defensively and in the attack. I like the way we're playing and excited about these last five matches."

Rainy Practice Round = Great Practice

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Hey Rebel Nation,

Today began our first day of on course preparation for the Ruth`s Chris Tar Heel Invitational.  It was a rainy day and our practice round routine was changed up a bit.  Instead of playing the whole course we took a different approach and worked more on visualization, specific targets and a solid game plan.  After our tour around the course, we had one of the most solid team practices that we have been a part of here at Ole Miss.  We worked specifically on chip shots and gaining confidence inside 5 ft. 

After a quick and delicious lunch at Panera, we came back to the hotel and had a purpose-driven workout.  To end the day we had a team meeting to improve our individual game plans. 

Looking forward to playing this beautiful Carolina golf course tomorrow! It's going to be a great week!!

Hotty Toddy!!

Hilsen (best wishes in Norwegian)

Maria Toennessen and Alison Hovatter

Off To Chapel Hill

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The Ole Miss women's golf team will take turns blogging throughout this weekend's Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Hey Rebel Fans,

We started off our trip with a slight delay! But it ended up working out in our favor because we each got our own row on the plane. The flight only had 13 people total, and we accounted for 7. Spacious! Once we landed in Raleigh, N.C., the weather was colder than expected. So we got in our vans and headed to our favorite restaurant, Top of the Hill on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.

Thanks to my Dad we pulled a small prank on Coach Drinkard, celebrating her 50th birthday for perhaps the twelfth time loading up on desserts of brownies and banana pudding. Now we're all settled into our hotel and ready for the practice round tomorrow. It feels so great to be back in my home state and can't wait to get out there and represent Ole Miss. We're ready to get out there and take on Chapel Hill!

One Heart One Goal, Rebel Golf

Taelor Rubin


The first two questions of head coach Hugh Freeze's weekly press conference centered on Texas A&M quarterback and last year's Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.


In last year's game, Manziel accounted for 320 yards of total offense, 191 through the air and 129 on the ground, and two total touchdowns, one each through the air and on the ground, as Texas A&M erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 30-27 in Oxford.


Through five games this year, Manziel leads the SEC and ranks sixth nationally in total offense, averaging 360.6 yards/game. He also averages 9.59 yards/play, which ranks second in the league and ninth nationally, and 36.1 percent of his offensive plays have resulted in a gain of 10 or more yards.


"You have to be multiple," Freeze said of defending Manziel. "You can't just give him one thing. There are no bad coaches in this league, and they have tremendous players, so they will make adjustments, if they get a beat on what exactly you're doing. We did have a good plan and we contained him for the better part of three quarters, but the fourth quarter, he showed why he won the Heisman Trophy.


"We will look at last year very closely and use what we think was very good and try to mix in some new stuff. We were able to create some turnovers last year, which I think was big, so hopefully we can have a repeat of that performance and contain him a bit. You're not to going to stop him but hopefully contain him and give us a chance to be in it late in the game."


A large part of the defensive game plan last year involved sophomore Mike Hilton, who made his first career start against Texas A&M last year. From his dimeback position, he spent most of the game spying Manziel and had three solo tackles, including two sacks and a forced fumble.


"We're going to have someone spy Manziel this game," junior linebacker Serderius Bryant said. "Mike Hilton did a great job with that last year. Hopefully, we're going to put him back on him this year. Our corners and defensive backs are going to have to step up this week because they're going to throw the ball to Mike Evans a lot. He's a great, very tall receiver, so we're going to have to make some plays on Mike Evans."


"The coaches are going to think of a different type of scheme this year," Hilton said. "We have a whole year under our belt watching him, so we're going to have more defensive packages set for him."



One of those packages might include a 3-3-5 defensive look the Ole Miss defense showed some against Auburn, with Bryant and sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche on the field at the same time, along with senior linebacker Mike Marry. 


Bryant has started the last four games at Stinger linebacker and leads the SEC and ranks ninth nationally with 10.8 tackles/game, while Nkemdiche returned from injury against Alabama and led the Rebels with nine tackles and recovered a fumble last week against Auburn.


"That package went pretty well," Bryant said. "The coaches told us they were going to put something else in this week that we're going to run. They want to try to get me and Denzel on the field at the same time. We're both playmakers, and we're both fast and have speed. They want to try to get to playmakers on the field at the same time.


"When me and Denzel are on the field together, Denzel takes on blocks better than me, so he plays down close to the line, and I'm free to roam back at Stinger linebacker about six yards off the line and read the ball, and wherever it goes, I go to the ball."


Along with scheme, players said it's as much, if not more, about winning 1-on-1 battles and just making plays when defending Manziel and the Texas A&M offense.


"Don't overdo anything," Hilton said. "Play your game. If you get a chance to get him on the ground, make sure you get him on the ground because he can make plays. Everybody knows it. You got to make a play when it happens."


"It's physically, you got to make a play," sophomore safety Trae Elston said. "If you play athlete on athlete, the best athlete is going to make the tackle, so that's what he have to do against him."



Both Freeze and Hilton noted that Manziel has played a lot more in the pocket this year compared to last year. And his passing numbers are up, from yards per game, to completion percentage, to pass efficiency.


Through five games this year, Manziel ranks second in the SEC and 14th nationally in passing offense (297.8). He also leads the SEC and ranks eight nationally in completion percentage (71.4) and ranks second in the SEC and fifth nationally in passer rating (188.06).


"You notice that he doesn't mind standing in the pocket longer," Freeze said. "I thought he was a good thrower last year, too. We were hoping he wasn't, but when you faced him live, you realized he was. He certainly does not mind standing in the pocket longer this year. They have worked on that to minimize some of the hits that he takes and him developing as more of a complete quarterback. You can tell work has been put in on him doing that."


"You have to let it come to you," Hilton said. "You have to be conservative. Everybody knows how he plays. He has actually played a lot more in the pocket this year. He still has the ability to escape and make plays happen. We have to sit back and let him come to us and make a play when it happens."


Manziel's favorite target in last year's game and again so far this season is 6-foot-5, 225-pound sophomore Mike Evans. The two connected for a 32-yard gain on 3rd-and-19 from the Texas A&M 3-yard line, as the Aggies rallied to win last year in Oxford.


A Freshman All-SEC selection last year, Evans leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in receiving yards (138.2 ypg). He also leads the SEC and ranks second nationally in yards per reception (24.7). He has also accounted for 10 plays of 30 or more yards, which leads the nation, including four plays of 40 or more yards.


"Everybody wanted us to copy Alabama's plan against A&M, and I wanted to show them on tape where 270 yards came from," Freeze said of Evans. "It was a guy going up and just making a play, which he's very good at. We saw that on 3rd-and-19 last year at our place. Senquez had perfect coverage on him, and he just went up over him. 


"We have got to think through that. We have thought about a lot of crazy things, trying to think out of the box a little bit on who we might put on him in some situations that can compete for a jump ball with him, so we're thinking along those lines. Certainly, even if you have him covered, there's no guarantee that he's not going to make the play." 


Who might the Rebels put on Evans? The Rebels' two starting cornerbacks, Hilton and junior Senquez Golson, are listed at 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-9, respectively. 


Senior Charles Sawyer, who also plays a lot at cornerback, is listed at 5-foot-11. Freshman Derrick Jones, at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, who switched from wide receiver to cornerback earlier this season, might also figure is some situations.


"You have to be physical with him right before he gets up in the air because he uses his body a lot, so you have to get your body into him before he does," Hilton said. "And if you know you can't get a pick, separate his hands, so he won't catch it."


WNBA Update (Oct. 7)

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WNBA Update (Oct. 7)
The Atlanta Dream dropped Game 1 of the 2013 WNBA Finals on Sunday (Oct. 6) falling 84-59  to the Minnesota Lynx. Former Rebel Armintie Price-Herrington played 27 minutes and picked up two points, three assists and three rebounds. The Finals continue on Tuesday with the Lynx hosting the Dream at 8:00 p.m. on ESPN. The series moves to Atlanta beginning on Oct. 10.

Atlanta Dream Coverage


No. 24 Ole Miss rallied in the second half and got to within five, 27-22, early in the fourth quarter, after Bo Wallace connected with Donte Moncrief for two touchdowns. Auburn later added a field goal with just over three minutes left, and Ole Miss had a final chance down one possession, but the comeback fell short, as the Tigers held on for a 30-22 win at Jordan-Hare Stadium.


"It was a disappointing loss," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I thought they were well prepared and they were a great football team, but we had out chances. And certainly, we can't give them points off turnovers like we did and we have to score touchdowns when we get the opportunity. We had the ball three times with chances to take the lead and then could not protect... There are little things that they did better than us tonight."


Quarterback Bo Wallace completed 25 of 48 passes for a season-high 336 yards with two touchdowns and two interception. It was his fourth career 300-yard passing game, which is second-most in school history behind Eli Manning. However, he was also sacked six times, including back-to-back plays on the Rebels' final offensive possession.


"We lost a lot of one-on-ones," Freeze said of protecting Wallace. "When you feel like you have to abandon the run a little bit, they certainly can tee off and that happened a lot. We certainly feel like we got beat quite a few times.


"They played a lot of man-to-man coverage just like everyone has done here lately. We had people open. We did drop some balls and made some good plays here and there, but you have got to protect. We did not protect very well."



"Anytime you give up that many sacks, it goes back to down and distance, and us being behind the chains a lot in 3rd-and-long situations," offensive line coach Matt Luke said. "I thought we had an opportunity to win the game (on the last drive), and we just didn't get it done. We got to get back to work."


On the other sideline, quarterback Nick Marshall led all players 14 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 11 of 17 passes for 93 yards.


"He had a phenomenal first half," Freeze said of Marshall. "He is an athletic guy, and we struggled to contain him at time. I thought we did a better job in the second half on him. He is a good player, and they make you defend the entire field. They have a player back there like him that is hard to defend."


For Ole Miss, Saturday marked the third straight road game and the fourth out of the first five games of the seasons. The Rebels return home for six straight home games over the next seven weeks starting with No. 9 Texas A&M and last year's Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.


"We look forward to going home," Freeze said. "The road does not get much easier but at least we will have our people behind us and pulling for us like we have experienced on the road. We will keep fighting, I know, but that's a hurting locker room right now, and it is disappointing."


Head coach Hugh Freeze recaps Wednesday's practice, discusses the possibility of inclement weather for Saturday's game at Auburn and updates the health status of quarterback Barry Brunetti, defensive end C.J. Johnson and defensive tackle Bryon Bennett.

Offensive coordinator Dan Werner previews Auburn's defense, looks back on quarterback Bo Wallace's game against Alabama and discusses the role of running back I'Tavius Mathers in the offense. 

Wide receivers coach Grant Heard discusses Vince Sanders and his return from injury, Laquon Treadwell's progression and assesses the blocking of the wide receivers.


The Ole Miss men's basketball officially opened preseason practice on Friday, and senior guard Marshall Henderson was a full participant.


Head coach Andy Kennedy said Tuesday there has already been a determination that Henderson will miss games. How many he will miss has yet to be determined, and it's ongoing based on his progression.


"When he was suspended in early July, there was a process put into place to which he had to conform in order to be where he is today," Kennedy said. "From the second week in July until we started school at the end of August, there were things that were put in place that he had to meet.


"He met those. Therefore when we started school and preseason training -- conditioning, weights, individual development -- he was a part of those things. How he continues along this progression will determine what happens next."


Henderson, Kennedy said, has been 100 percent compliant as it relates to the plan that has been put in place.


"I see a sense of urgency as it relates to the position that he has put himself in," he said. "He's completely aware of the predicament that he has created for us, but he's owned it."


On the court, Kennedy noted that Henderson, an All-SEC performer last year and the conference's reigning leading scorer, is stronger physically and has a better understanding of the consistency with which you have to play to be successful at this level.


"Marshall's play has not changed," he said. "He's the same guy from an energy and emotional standpoint. He's taken a leadership role. He's always going to be the way he is, as it relates to passion, being engaged and playing on that edge from a basketball standpoint.


"The thing that I have been the most proud of is he's winning the sprints at the end. He's encouraging the young guys when they make mistakes. Those are the areas that I have seen a marked improvement in Marshall and his approach to the game."


When Henderson misses games, Ole Miss will be without four of its top five scorers from last season. 


"I am preparing every day as if he's not out there, so I'm trying to make sure that I'm doing the best that I can with the players that I know will be available for game one to give us the best chance to be successful," Kennedy said of being without Henderson.


In the backcourt, without Henderson's 20.1 points per game, more will be demanded of juniors Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White, the fourth and sixth leading scorers on last year's team, respectively, as well as sophomore Derrick Millinghaus.


The Rebels will also be tasked with replacing Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner in the frontcourt, who averaged a combined 25 points and 18 rebounds last year. They will also be without sophomore Terry Brutus who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the preseason.


"We're going to ask those four guys to do it by committee, and I think they're certainly capable of doing it," Kennedy said of the frontcourt. "They just haven't done it. Until they do it, we'll all have to see how quickly they can respond."


Senior Demarco Cox (foot) has been cleared for full contact for more than a month, and junior Aaron Jones (ACL) has been cleared for about two weeks. Freshmen Dwight Coleby and Sebastian Saiz, Kennedy said, have made great contributions and will also be in the mix there.


 

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