November 2013 Archives
Ole Miss fell 17-10 in overtime to intrastate rival Mississippi State, but the Rebels' one score provided a special moment for two of the team's unsung players.
Down 7-0 with 31 seconds left in the first half, Ole Miss called its third and final timeout to force a Mississippi State punt and try to score some points before halftime.
Mississippi State punter Baker Swedenburg stood deep in the Bulldogs' end zone and bobbled the snap. And then, two Ole Miss players just made plays.
Junior wide receiver Collins Moore beat his man off the line and took the ball right off Swedenburg's foot in the end zone, and senior wide receiver Terrell Grant pounced on the ball for the touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 26 seconds left.
It turned the momentum in the Rebels' favor, as they drove 81 yards on 17 plays on the opening drive of the second half, capped by an Andrew Ritter 22-yard field, to take a 10-7 lead. Head coach Hugh Freeze called it a "huge lift" and "big special teams play."
"(Linebackers/Special Teams) Coach (Tom) Allen came up with a great scheme this week," Moore said. "I told Terrell Grant that if I was the one to block the punt that I wanted him to be one to recover it and hopefully score a touchdown, which we did, because this will the be last time he will play Mississippi State being a senior."
"It was a great feeling," Grant said. "It changed momentum, which we needed. (Collins and I) had been talking about it all day. It was a great moment, and I'll remember it forever, but I wish we could have won. I would have rather not have the touchdown and win than have the touchdown and lose."
For those two role players, despite the loss, those five seconds will last a lifetime.
Moore has 13 career catches for 189 yards and a touchdown, while for Grant, it was the first time he touched the ball in his four-year Ole Miss career, having seen action in 24 games on special teams and as receiver.
"Everything that Coach Freeze preaches about -- playing for the guy next to you -- that's all that was going through my mind, that I made a dream come true for one of my teammates," Moore said.
"Having a peace of mind and understand that God has his ways. I stuck with it," Grant said. "I love the game of football. I could have transferred, but I love Ole Miss and I love my teammates. They helped me the most. That's what helped me."
Ole Miss sent seniors Kellie Goss and Kara Morgan out with a win as the Rebels topped LSU 3-2 on Senior Night.
"It was a great win," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We tweaked the lineup, and one of our seniors Kellie Goss, who has played an important role as a utility player all her career, came in off the bench and had one of the best nights of her career. Both of our seniors had a great last match. They held their emotions in check knowing it was their last match, and both of them did a great job."
"This past practice, our coach told us to say our favorite memory thus far in our career here, and we both said beating LSU in five (sets) our sophomore year," Goss said. "We replicated it tonight, and it was the best feeling ever.
Goss finished with a season-high 10 kills, while Morgan nearly had a double-double with seven kills and 12 digs. The Rebels also got a big lift from freshman Aubrey Edie who set a program record with 61 assists. Freshman Melanie Crow and sophomore Ty Laporte also had season-high kills with 18 and 16, respectively. Sophomore Nakeyta Clair joined Crow with a team-high 18 kills.
"We have been in that situation where we have been up 2-0 on people and we haven't taken care of business," Getzin said. "We were intense throughout and kept putting pressure on them."
Morgan finishes her four-year career as the program's fourth all-time leader with 927 kills, having also led the team with 311 kills and 30 service aces as a junior.
"It's not about the numbers; I take away the friendships that I have made," Morgan said. "Kellie and I have been together for four years. It's been a great experience."
For Goss, her 10 kills Wednesday was the second-most of her career, having finished with 12 kills in that same five-set win over LSU her sophomore year.
"I can't say enough about Kellie Goss," Getzin said. "A lot of times role players don't get the accolades they deserve, but you can't run a team without someone like her giving up what she truly wants to do for the betterment of the team from time to time and playing an understudy when it was needed. Without that kind of buy-in from someone like Kellie, a team doesn't function, so I couldn't be prouder of her."
"That's probably the best send-off I could possibly imagine," Goss said. "It was the greatest feeling ever, and I couldn't have done it without my teammates and coaches supporting me the whole time."
Goss and Morgan came in together as freshmen in the 2010 season, during which the Rebels earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Three years later, they finish their respective careers on a high note.
"Kellie and I have one of the strongest relationships on the team," Morgan said. "We don't have to constantly be around each other for us to have that relationship. We have each other's backs no matter what."
"We don't even have to speak sometimes to know what each other are thinking," Goss said. "We have a close relationship and it will continue on forever."
One of the core values for the Ole Miss football program is mental toughness. With a rivalry game in a hostile environment, it will carry a greater importance.
"You're going into a hostile environment, and that's the biggest thing," offensive line coach Matt Luke said. "When you're playing here, you have your home-field advantage. When you're playing there, it's a hostile environment and nobody likes you. It's kind of you versus the whole stadium."
One challenge is the weather, with the temperature expected to dip into the 30s, maybe the upper 20s, which is something similar to what they faced in the 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri this past Saturday. Head coach Hugh Freeze said they have to be mentally tough to handle it.
"I did not think we handled the weather well the other night," Freeze said. "I don't talk about those things a lot, but I did talk to our team about it today. I didn't think we handled it really well, particularly when we got behind."
Another challenge is the 55,000-plus fans at Davis Wade Stadium, with the sound of cowbells. Each of the past two days, Ole Miss has had cowbell sounds, along with the usual loud music for road games, piped into practice in the Manning Center.
"We better get used to that," Freeze said. "I'm not sure how that process is going there with the regulations that they have on them. I'm certain in this game we will hear some."
"Barry (Brunetti) said that it's one of the toughest places he has played, so that's what I'm anticipating," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said, referring to Brunetti's start at quarterback in the 2011 game at Mississippi State.
Length, Size In Mississippi State's Front Seven
Freeze had praise for the Bulldogs' front seven, led by sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney and junior defense end Preston Smith. McKinney and Smith are tied for the team lead with 2.5 sacks. McKinney also leads the team with 61 tackles, while Smith leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss.
"Their length and size of their front, they are one of the longer defenses you will face," Freeze said. "Their linebackers are tall, and their front is huge. It is difficult to win one-on-ones, so you have to create double teams, and their linebackers are good at running around and making plays. In the passing game, they do a great job of spot-dropping, and they're so long, that those windows to throw in don't stay open very long.
"You have to take care of the ball. They're great at getting turnovers, and when you turn the ball over, you're not nearly as good. We have to be balanced, so we can be effective in throwing. The last thing you want with who we are is to get into a situation where they know we have to throw."
Another player to note in the front seven is freshman defensive lineman Chris Jones, who has started three games for the Bulldogs, two at defensive tackle and another at defensive end. He leads the team with nine quarterback hurries, ranks second with two sacks and tied for third with five tackles for loss.
"Any time that you're a freshman playing in this league, you better be pretty good," Luke said. "The biggest thing is adjusting to the speed of the game in this league. Any time you are able to do that as a freshman, it's good."
Wallace, Other Health Updates
Wallace battled flu-like symptoms in the 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri this past Saturday. He is close to 100 percent, Freeze said Tuesday.
"He still felt some lingering effects this morning," he said. "We'll get him off his feet today and hopefully get him back to 100 percent. He went through everything in practice, but he felt a little weak today."
Also on the health front, Freeze said he doesn't think senior cornerback Charles Sawyer (various injuries) will be able to go, and senior running back Jeff Scott (thigh bruise/bone spur) is questionable like he was Monday.
The Egg Bowl returns to Thanksgiving night for the first time since 2003, which is also the last time Ole Miss won in Starkville.
Thursday's game is the 110th meeting of one of the nation's most-played rivalries and the 86th "Battle of the Golden Egg," as the two schools stated playing for the trophy in 1927. The Rebels (7-4, 3-4 SEC) look to defend the Golden Egg and improve their bowl standing, while the Bulldogs (5-6, 2-6) are playing for bowl eligibility.
"The Egg Bowl intensity is always going to be about as high as you get in a given game," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "With them having to win to a bowl like we were last year, if it's possible to ratchet it up a little more for your kids, particularly your seniors, that's something that will do it if it's possible. You don't have to have that to make this game feel emotional. But if there's anything that would make it more, it would be those factors."
"I know they're going to play hard against us," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "Their backs are against the wall. We know how that feels. They're in the same situation as we were last year. They're going to come out and play, so we have to be ready for them."
Keeping The Momentum
Freeze said they gained considerable momentum after last year's Egg Bowl win. That win clinched bowl eligibility and a berth in the BBVA Compass Bowl, which may have been a determining factor for several recruits in their decision.
And on National Signing Day, Ole Miss landed a consensus top-10 signing class, which included eight Mississippi prospects, headlined by Huskie Tony Conner (Batesville) and cornerback Derrick Jones (Eupuroa).
The Rebels look to reclaim the Egg Bowl and continue to build momentum with a win Thursday night.
"I have seen it work both ways," Freeze said of the recruiting impact of winning the Egg Bowl. "There's not any recipe you can put on it. I know that it doesn't to win, and it's going to help you with some. But by the time February rolls around, there are a lot of things that have occurred, people have made decisions and relationships have been built. It's not the only factor, but it doesn't hurt, and it will help in some cases."
Wallace Feeling Better
Wallace was back at practice Monday and said he is at the end of his flu-like symptoms he suffered from in Saturday's 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri.
"There won't be any effect at all," Wallace said of any lasting effects. "Tomorrow, I'll be almost 100 percent almost."
Despite the fatigue and feeling awful, Wallace was was 26-of-42 for 244 yards with an interception.
"It was awful," Wallace said of Saturday. "I knew I was going to attempt to play. It was just hard to focus Saturday on what I had to do at the hotel, when I was just worried about trying to feel. I played OK. Definitely, I could have played better. It's something I'm not proud of."
Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Wallace-to-Moncrief
In last year's meeting, the Ole Miss offense exploded for 24 unanswered points in the second half to take a 41-17 lead, as the Rebels went on to win 41-24 and clinch bowl eligibility.
Wallace was 15-of-22 for 294 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target was junior Donte Moncrief who had seven catches for a career-high 173 yards and three touchdowns.
"They're a little different than they were last year," Freeze said of Mississippi State's coverages. "They will still do some of the same stuff, but the percentages are different."
A year later, Wallace ranks third in the SEC in total offense (286.0 yards per game) and fourth in passing (264.4 ypg), while Moncrief ranks top 10 in the SEC in receiving (72.8 ypg), receptions (4.5/game) and receiving touchdowns (5).
"We showed them some looks that we didn't show earlier in the year," Wallace said of last year's meeting. "We will have a few new wrinkles in this week just like every week, and hopefully we will able to score some point on them."
Uncertainty At Quarterback For MSU
For Mississippi State, sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott ranks fifth in the SEC in total yards (251.6 yards per game) and leads the team in both passing (171.3 yards per game) and rushing (80.2 ypg).
However, Prescott has missed the last two games due to injury and is listed as the backup on this week's depth chart to freshman quarterback Damian Williams, who is 14-of-27 for 186 yards with an interception this year. Williams also scored the game-winning touchdown with a 25-yard scamper in a 24-17 win over Arkansas last week.
Senior quarterback Tyler Russell, who has started the last two games, is not listed on the depth chart, having been replaced by Williams in each game due to injury. All this uncertainty at quarterback presents a different challenge to Ole Miss this week.
"I really don't know exactly what's going on," Freeze said. "I know they have been resting Dak, and the other two have played in the last few game. I saw where Tyler left the game last weekend at the end. I don't know what the significance of that is. We have to prepare for all three I think. Fortunately, two of the three are very similar and do the same things, and the other is still similar. They are like watching us on film. They do most of the same stuff that we do. You don't like not knowing, but that's the situation we're in, so we have to prepare for all three."
The Bulldogs are averaging 438.0 yards per game, which ranks ninth in the SEC and would also break the school record of 422.0 yards per game set in 1982. Another weapon in the offense is junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis, who leads the team with 49 catches for 635 yards and five touchdowns, to go along with three rushing touchdowns and three passing touchdowns.
"They want to run the football and then play-action pass, just like our offense does," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "It's an advantage for us, and both defenses, because we get to see this type of thing all the time. We have to prepare for it all."
Ole Miss had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri on Saturday night. The 24th-ranked Rebels now face a quick turnaround as they travel to face intrastate rival Mississippi State on Thursday night in Starkville.
"We're obviously disappointed that we didn't have a chance to win it at the end," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. "They are a very good football team; they take you out of a lot of things. They are excellent up front on both sides, so I give them credit. We needed to play a good game, and we didn't play well enough. We had missed opportunities in the red zone.
"We have to put it past us and move forward. Everything has to be expedited with the short week, and I told our kids tonight we don't have the luxury of tomorrow being the day we put it in the trash; we have to put in the trash tonight, move forward and put it behind us."
The story of the game was red zone conversion. Missouri scored on all four trips for 24 points, while Ole Miss scored three points in its three trips that included a blocked field goal, a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Ritter and a turnover on downs.
"It's impossible to beat a top-10 team when you get in the red zone and don't score touchdown or points," Freeze said. "We had the blocked field goal, then a drop and a bad call on the reverse. If you don't score points in the red zone against that team, you aren't going to win."
The Rebels, now 7-4 with a 3-4 record in SEC play, will look to improve their bowl standing as they prepare for their regular season finale at Mississippi State. On the other sideline, the Bulldogs (5-6, 2-5) will be playing for bowl eligibility coming off Saturday's 24-17 overtime win over Arkansas.
"They are a good football team," Freeze said. "They are so good up front that they can be in any game. They will be very emotional, not only because it is the Egg Bowl, but because they're playing for extra practice and a bowl game. We better kid our kids ready. It's always important when you play that game. With their backs against the wall, they will have their team ready, so we have to get ready."
"It's difficult, but it's football," junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford said of the quick turnaround. "The amount of weight on this game will override those days we will not have. With a lot of guys from Mississippi, it shouldn't be that hard to get fired up for this game. We know what's on the line, and they know what's on the line also."
Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
Ole Miss is the only school in the upper half of the SEC statistical rankings in every major offensive and defensive category. This week, the Rebels face one of their toughest tests on both sides of the ball in No. 8 Missouri.
The Tigers defense ranks second in the SEC and 14th nationally in rushing defense (111.9 ypg). Missouri has held opponents under 150 rushing yards in all but one game (Georgia), while the Ole Miss has been held under 150-yard mark four times this year, including each of their three losses.
"They're one of the best rushing defenses in the nation," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "It presents a challenge for us. We're not near as good offensively when we can't run the ball. It puts us a bit in a disadvantage in having to protect against a D-line like this, especially. There's a premium on being able to run it."
"The strength of their team is up front," offensive line coach Matt Luke said. "We know that, and that's probably going to be where the game is won and lost."
Offensive line coach Matt Luke meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
On the defensive line, senior defensive end Michael Sam leads the league and ranks sixth nationally with 10 sacks and also leads the league and ranks fifth nationally with 16 tackles for loss. On the other side, junior defensive end Kony Ealy, ranks fourth in the SEC with 6.5 sacks and leads the team with 13 quarterback hurries.
"They provide probably the biggest challenge we have had all year from top to bottom," Luke said. "They're good in every spot. It's not like they have one guy you can focus on. (Sam) has the most sacks, but the other ends provide their own challenges. One of them is faster; one of them is bigger, and they're two inside guys are good, so you can't slide your line a certain way and protect against one guy."
It's not only the personnel, but also their scheme and movement, which presents a great challenge for the Ole Miss offensive line, both in run blocking and pass protection.
"They do a good job of movement," Luke said. "They're never in the same place. They move about every snap. They're a moving front and don't let you double-team because they're constantly moving, twisting and mixing up the front and making it tough on you.
"Nothing is ever easy, and you always have to figure something out. You can't just do your assignment; it's always movement, so that's a unique challenge for us."
Jones, Wommack Prepare For Missouri Tall, Speedy Receivers
Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
On Monday, junior cornerback Senquez Golson compared the Missouri group of receivers to playing against three or four Mike Evans from Texas A&M.
In the Oct. 12 meeting against Texas A&M, the Ole Miss defense, notably Golson, held Evans to a season-low 46 yards on four catches and without a touchdown, but Missouri presents a different challenge this week with all four of its starting receivers listed at 6-foot-2 or taller.
Sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham and senior L'Damian Washington (6-foot-2), who each have 500-plus receiving yards and nine touchdowns, are listed at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-2, respectively. For the Rebels, Golson and sophomore cornerback Mike Hilton are listed at 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-8, respectively.
"Most of the time you have one guy who is 6-5 guy, but to have several like they have is unusual," cornerbacks coach Jason Jones said. "All three, they can run and catch the football. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
"We can't make them any taller," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "There's nothing we can do about that. We have to go with what we got and work the fundamentals to try to challenge those guys."
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
Another cornerback in the mix for Ole Miss will be freshman Derrick Jones, who made his college debut at No. 1 Alabama and has started three games since then. At 6-foot-3, he can help the Rebel defense match up against Missouri's tall receivers.
"After recruiting, I hoped he was going to be a safety, but I'm glad to have him as a corner," Wommack said. "I didn't realize he had the kind of hips and speed that he has. A lot of times long guys like him struggle with change of direction, but he's got all those things. He will make a bunch of money someday."
Courtney Cunningham is a builder. While playing volleyball for Ole Miss from 2009-11, Cunningham helped build the Rebels into an NCAA Tournament team while also earning her civil engineering degree. From that degree, Cunningham is helping build dreams, including her own.
Cunningham spent two weeks this past August in Togo with Engineers Without Borders where she helped with the first phase of a 5- to 10-year project to build a school for one of the communities in the West African nation.
While the group faced many obstacles, they were able to pour two slabs for each classroom, put up all the columns to the correct height and set up an L-shape concrete beam for one of the classrooms.
"We came into a lot of obstacles that prevented us from getting the classrooms done in time," Cunningham said. "That's what happens whenever you go to a foreign country and you don't speak the language. There are always some difficulties you come across."
Cunningham described the typical day, in which they worked from sun up to sun down, in two words: very hot.
"We are so blessed here, and to go over there and have all those challenges put in front of us, and as engineers, we had to figure it out," she said. "They gave us the wrong shipment of rocks for our concrete mix and gravel, so we had to sort rocks. I took that challenge upon myself. It was very tedious, but it needed to be done. And it was a great way to get the kids involved.
"We would measure out an inch on the wheelbarrow. We put the rocks in there, and if it did not fit we would throw it out, and if it did fit we kept it in the wheelbarrow. You can only imagine how challenging this was because none of the kids spoke English, they all spoke French."
Cunningham left Togo on Aug. 21, spent a day in Oxford and then drove to Houston, where she now works as an engineer in training (EIT) for Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam. There, she helps design plans for clients while also learning from the professional engineers (PE) above her.
"Transportation engineering was not really what I worked on when I was in Togo, but the lessons I learned from Togo are helping me here," Cunningham said. "I learned how to deal with difficulties. Everything is not going to go right in engineering; you just have to find a way to make it work. It kind of goes back to volleyball and the classroom as well. You always encounter issues, and something not going right; it's how you and your mindset can make the problem better or fix it."
It's a five-year process from EIT to PE, during which Cunningham has to keep a record of all the projects she works on and then take an exam. That professional engineering license, Cunningham said, is her end goal, what she's working for and her everything right now, but she also sees something beyond the license.
"The dream career is to travel while doing engineering and get to a point where I can call myself a project manager," Cunningham said. "That's the end goal for me. That's what my eye is on right now."
There's a different air surrounding this week's primetime showdown with No. 8 Missouri, the Rebels' first top-10 test since a 27-24 win over then-No. 6 LSU back on Oct. 19.
"It's a huge week for us," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We get to see how good we are. We had some games that we felt like we didn't play as well in that we could have been in, but this is our redemption game that we can go back and see how good we are."
"In the weight room yesterday, it was crazy," junior linebacker Serderius Bryant said. "No one was talking or doing anything. We're telling each other this a game that no one should have to get you amped for. You should be motivated and feel that urge to do what you can do.
The Rebels (7-3, 3-3 SEC) have won four straight, having eclipsed 500 total offense yards in each of the four games, including a school-record 751 against Troy this past Saturday. They also re-entered the BCS and Associated Press polls at No. 24.
The Tigers (9-1, 5-1 SEC) rank in the top three in the SEC and top 20 in the nation in both scoring offense (41.3 points per game) and scoring defense (20.2). Other than their loss to South Carolina, none of their wins have been decided by less than 15 points.
"I don't know that having to win the game will answer the question, 'Are you really a top-25 team?'" Freeze said. "But if we go out, compete and have a chance to win it, that's what we're asking for right now out of our kids in Year Two.
"Let's go find out where we stand and how we match up with the elite in the nation right. Hopefully, we'll be in it at the end and see. With the schedule we have played, looking back on it, we have had our share of tests, and this will be another one Saturday night."
When asked about keys to the matchup, Freeze mentioned two specifically: running the ball effectively and eliminating explosive plays in the passing game.
"We're pretty good when we can run it and mix in the play-action pass and the stuff we like to do off our run game," Freeze said. "When we're not running it -- you look at the Alabama and Auburn games -- we're not the same team.
"(Cornerbacks coach) Jason Jones put together a reel of their explosive receivers play, and it's quite impressive, so we have a tall task there. If we can eliminate those and are able run the ball the ball effectively, that will go a long way in helping us be in this game.
The Challenge On Defense
Senior James Franklin is listed as the starter at quarterback for the Tigers this week, having missed the last four games since suffering a shoulder injury against Georgia on Oct. 12.
Franklin averages 225.3 passing yards per game and has thrown for 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. His backup, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, averages 95.1 passing yards per game and 10 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
"There's not much difference in the two quarterbacks, so that's the good thing," Freeze said. "They are going to be who they are. They have done the exact same things with their second guy that they do with their first guy, so it's not like you're preparing for two different schemes. They have confidence in both of them and have good reason to."
The Tigers also have a talented group of receivers, led by sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham and senior L'Damian Washington who each have 500-plus receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Each of their four starting receivers are listed at 6-foot-2 or taller, with Green-Beckham at 6-foot-6 and Washington at 6-foot-4.
Ole Miss junior cornerback Senquez Golson compared it to playing against three or four Mike Evans from Texas A&M. Both he and sophomore cornerback Mike Hilton said it's about playing physical with the tall, speedy receivers from Missouri.
"That's a physics problem that we can't solve," said Freeze of their height. "It's a concern for sure because there are times where their guys are more able to make a play on the ball than some defensive backs they have faced. That is a great concern and something that we have to try to figure out what the best answers are when those cases arise."
The Challenge On Offense
One of the keys to the game, Freeze said, is Missouri's ability to stop the run. The Tigers rank second in the league and 14th nationally in rushing defense (111.9 ypg). In earlier losses to Alabama and Auburn, Ole Miss rushed for 46 and 124 yards, respectively.
In recent games, the Rebels have run the ball better, including a season-high 382 yards against Troy, and Freeze credited the offensive line progressing and being more multiple, while senior offensive linemen Pierce Burton and Emmanuel McCray credited continuity and working better with double teams.
"Very few people have been able to line up and just run the ball effectively on them to keep you off balance, and then they get you one-dimension and those ends are quick and cause trouble in the backfield for you," Freeze said. "We have to try to find a way to run the ball effective enough so that we can be who we are and want to be and keep them thinking we're balanced, which we have been as of late."
Missouri also does a great job of generating pressure and forcing turnovers, and it starts with their defensive line.
The Tigers lead the league in sacks and rank third nationally with 34 sacks, as well as lead the league and rank seventh nationally with 17 interceptions. It's a great challenge for junior quarterback Bo Wallace, who after throwing 17 interceptions last year, has only been picked off five times through 10 games this season.
"Sometimes the pressure is causing some of it, but they do a great job also of mixing up their coverages and causing you to want to be greedy," Freeze said. "If you're not patient against them, because they're going to make you go 8, 10, 12-play drives to get points and they're very good in the red zone. In most of their games, they're ahead and forcing you to throw a lot, and they're stopping the run, so the sacks are coming because when they get you in a position where they know you have to throw, their guys are very good at that."
"I have to be sharp every week, no matter who we play," Wallace said. "We play in probably the best conference in America. Every week, we're going to play against guys who can go get the ball and great defensive backs. There are great defenses in this league, so it's the same every week."
Their defensive line is led by a talented duo at the ends. Senior Michael Sam leads the league and ranks sixth nationally with 10 sacks and also leads the league and ranks fifth nationally with 16 tackles for loss. On the other side, junior Kony Ealy, ranks fourth in the SEC with 6.5 sacks and leads the team with 13 quarterback hurries.
"They do a lot of movement, so it will be a unique challenge for us," Burton said. "It's not just like I'm watching a defensive end every time. The defensive end is going to be slanting. They're doing run-game twists on first down. We haven't seen that all year except for SEMO. That's a really unique thing to see."
"They are very talented," McCray said. "They are slated as one of the best in the SEC. They play pretty hard and all have pretty good motors. It's not just about outstanding ability, they all play as a good unit."
Freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught a short pass from junior quarterback Bo Wallace, made six Troy defenders miss and dove into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. It was the start of a historic day for the Ole Miss offense, as the Rebels rolled up a school-record 751 total yards in a 51-21 win over Troy Saturday.
"When he caught it, I saw so many people around him, in my mind, I'm thinking what are we going to call next knowing that he's going to get tackled there," offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. "I'm thinking in my game plan we're about the 10- or 15-yard line, and then he kept breaking tackles and then he gets closer and closer, and then he pops it in for the touchdown. As an offensive coordinator, you love that because you set down the game plan and smile for a little bit."
The 751 total yards eclipsed the previous record of 623 vs. Auburn in 1951. It was also the highest in the SEC this year and fifth-most in league history. It was a balanced attack with a season-high 382 yards on the ground and 369 through the air, with completions to nine different receivers, while seven different players rushed at least once.
"Offensively, we broke a school record in total yards," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "That's always good and means you're doing something right. We broke it in the third quarter, so it was a good day. We finished today, as far as our 1's and 2's, and now it's time to move on to the next one."
"We talk to our guys every week about it doesn't matter who we're playing; we got to make sure that we play as well as we can and prepare the same way every week," Werner said. "They came out with a game plan and understood it. They did a great job and were really efficient, especially in the first half."
Wallace continues to move up in the record books and now ranks fourth all-time in career passing yards (5,658) and career total offense yards (6,280). He completed 17-of-26 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
"In JUCO a couple of times," said Wallace of playing in a game where the offense eclipsed 700 total offensive yards. "It was pretty ridiculous. It took me back to those days. I think we ran the ball a little more today."
Treadwell led the receiving corps with four catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns, as he set freshman records for receiving yards (477) and touchdown catches (5) in a season. Fellow freshman Quincy Adeboyejo caught his first career touchdown, a 24-yard reception from Wallace.
"He's so physical that he reminds me of a young Michael Irvin," said Werner of Treadwell. "That's how Michael played. Michael wasn't a huge burner but he knew how to get open, had very strong hands, and when he caught the ball, he out-physicals you, and that's what Laquon does."
Ole Miss has won four straight, as it enters its final two games at home against No. 8 Missouri and at Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night. The offense has surpassed 500 total yards each of the last four games and five times this year, including Saturday's historic output.
Missouri, the Rebels' next opponent in Saturday's primetime showdown on ESPN, enters the game ranked third in the SEC in scoring defense (20.2 points per game) and leads the league with 34 sacks.
"The speed off their edge is tremendous," Freeze said. "They are very sound and athletic on the back end. Their front is as good as we have faced athletically, particularly on the ends."
"I watched a couple of games on the TV when we had late games," Wallace said. "Everybody talks about their defensive line. They have two good quarterbacks, so we have to be ready to put up points."
Ole Miss won its second ever NCAA Tournament game and set a school record for wins in a season with 16, as seven different Rebels scored in a 9-0 win over Jackson State Friday night.
No. 22-ranked Ole Miss (16-5-2) advances to play No. 3-ranked Florida State (19-1-3) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night in Tallahassee.
"It's a building block for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "We're trying to take steps forward and get better every year, and this has been just an unbelievable year for us, and we want to keep it going.
"We're setting a lot of records, but I'm really proud of the way the team plays. The leadership of our senior class has been unbelievable, and they have really propelled our program forward, so I'm very proud of them as a senior class. They don't want it to end, and we don't the season to end for them."
Senior Rafaelle Souza led the scoring barrage for the Rebels with a hat trick, as she became the school's all-time leading scorer with 44 goals over her three-year career at Ole Miss.
Fellow seniors Mandy McCalla and Erin Emerson, as well as sophomores Bethany Bunker, Olivia Harrison, Jessica Hiskey and Sydney Eddy also found the back of the net in the win.
"It's awesome," said Souza of the record. "There's no way to describe how good it feels to be at the top of a good program like Ole Miss."
"It was a complete game for us," Mott said. "Certainly, we were good going forward. We got good goals and spread it around. I was happy with the intensity and the energy level. We were very good in the back. Our possession was fantastic and the key to our success moving the ball."
The Rebels are 2-3-2 against nationally-ranked teams, including a 2-2-1 record away from Oxford and 2-1-0 in true road games, with wins over No. 20 Georgia and No. 25 LSU.
With the win, it marks the program's second appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, having lost 4-3 at Florida in double overtime during the 2003 season.
The Seminoles, one of four No. 1 seeds in the Field of 64, advanced to the second round with a 5-0 win over South Alabama Friday. They are 28-1-0 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament. Florida State also carries a 32-game (31-0-1) home unbeaten streak -- the longest active streak in the nation -- into Thursday's match.
"When I was at Auburn, I went down there three times, and when I was at Texas, we went once, so I'm very familiar with Tallahassee in the NCAA Tournament," Mott said. "They're a good team and possess the ball really well. They're the best-coached team in the country. Coach Krikorian is as good as there is, and they have a bunch of really good players.
"I'm happy with where our team is. We'll go down there, be excited to play and play as hard as we can possibly can and try to get a result."
Friday night marked the first ever NCAA Tournament home match in program history, and it was another home game for the team's six-player senior classes.
The 56:05 mark in the second half was a special moment, as three of the seniors -- Souza, Emerson and McCalla -- subbed out to a great applause in what could be their last respective games at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex.
"I have always told Matt (Mott) that I want to play in the NCAAs, so it was exciting to get here and play out there at least one time," Emerson said.
Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, visited campus Wednesday. He spent time with head coach Hugh Freeze, spoke to the team and signed the equipment room Wall of Fame.
"He's one of my heroes," Freeze said. "It's a special time for him to come. He spent about an hour with me in my office and then spoke to our team for about 20 minutes. I'm honored to have a man that stands for what he stands for and has done this job at the highest. Hopefully that helps and inspires us to finish strong.
His message? Choose the narrow gate. The wide road is what most folks go on.
"The whole theme of his books is there are very few uncommon people, therefore success won't be enjoy by the common man," Freeze said. "He challenged us to be uncommon in the way we do things, particularly the little things."
Scott Bolsters Backfield
Senior running back Jeff Scott, the team's leading rusher, has been sidelined since the Texas A&M game with a bone spur. He has had two good days of practice in a row and is expected to return Saturday against Troy.
"He's doing good," running backs coach Derrick Nix said. "The last few days, he's looked great. We're going to try to bring him along slowly for the game on Saturday. We'll have a couple of packages to get him involved. Just do what he can do and not try to run him into the ground right off the bat.
He will also resume his punt returning duties, Freeze said Wednesday.
"He had a good day today," he said. "That's two days in a row. And unless something sets him back between now and then, I feel like he will do that for us."
Scott has rushed for 434 yards and two touchdowns on 53 carries this year. Behind Scott, sophomore running back I'Tavius Mathers has 370 yards and two touchdowns on 60 carries, while fellow sophomore running back Jaylen Walton has 329 yards and five touchdown on 70 carries.
"I think that's the whole idea that we're trying to get here at Ole Miss, especially in the running position back position room," Nix said. "We want competition. We want guys to come out and every day and in every rep in practice and in individual work and during the course of the game. I don't know that it helped speed his recovery up but it made him anxious to get out and make plays.
Freshman Mark Dodson, who set career highs with seven carries for 57 yards and recorded his first career touchdown against Idaho, will also remain in the mix at running back.
"Mark has shown he can do a little bit of everything, be an inside guy and an outside guy," he said. "And again, it's about getting different packages to get them all involved in the game."
Familiar Foe In Troy
Saturday marks the first ever meeting between Ole Miss and Troy in football, but Freeze and some of his assistants have coached against the Trojans when they were at Arkansas State.
When Freeze was the offensive coordinator in 2010, the Red Wolves lost 35-28 on the road, and then with Freeze as head coach in 2011, the Red Wolves won 45-14 at home to win the Sun Belt Conference title outright and finish undefeated in league play with a perfect 8-0 record.
"Very little," said Freeze, of how Troy has changed since he was at Arkansas State. "It's a new defensive coordinator but it's very similar. They maybe play a little more man. I went back and watched my two years against them, and it's still similar."
Troy leads the Sun Belt Conference in passing (324.4 ypg) and total offense (47.5), which rank 15th and 23rd nationally, respectively. The Trojans also rank second in the league and 35th nationally in scoring offense (34.6).
"They always have offensive weapons that are scary," Freeze said. "They've been able to put up points against anybody they have played this year with the exception of one team. They are a scary team offensively because they are going to spread you out and they are athletic. (Corey Robinson), he's one of nation's leaders in passing yards. I have played against him and know he can throw it, so we'll have a challenge there for sure."
"When they had the other quarterback, (Deon Anthony), they changed quite a bit because they were running some of the same stuff that our offense runs with a little more option and so forth," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who also served as Arkansas State defensive coordinator in 2011. "They tried to do a little bit of that for a game or two, but they're more similar to what they were two years ago with (Corey) Robinson play quarterback."
Robinson holds 11 Troy and Sun Belt Conference career records, including both the school and league marks for passing yards, passing touchdowns and total yards. His 24 300-yard passing games leads all active players in the NCAA.
"He's got a quick release," Wommack said. "He's thrown for a lot of yards in his career and his high school. He's had his ups and downs at times, he's been banged around, he's been inconsistent at times, but he is dangerous from the standpoint of having a great arm and a quick release."
Ole Miss is bowl eligible for the second straight year under head coach Hugh Freeze after a 34-24 win over Arkansas this past Saturday. The Rebels are also 6-3 for the first time since 2009, when the started 8-3 before finishing with a 9-4 record. As excited as they are about being bowl eligible and the 6-3 start, the coaches and players are not satisfied.
"I like that the expectation level has risen," offensive line coach Matt Luke said. "They're not just satisfied with getting six wins but trying to build this program to where we all want it to be.
"It's a sense of accomplishment," sophomore offensive lineman Justin Bell said. "It shows that we're better than we were last year. We're not where we want to be but we're far from where we used to be."
Ole Miss continues with its fifth of six straight home games, as the Rebels (6-3, 3-3 SEC) step out of Southeastern Conference play on Saturday for its first ever meeting with the Troy Trojans (5-5, 3-3 Sun Belt).
"I don't think it a challenge of focus," Luke said. "We have to focus on us and getting better. That's the main thing. We want to finish going up, and to do that, each game has to be improvement. And there are certainly a lot of areas of improvement from the Arkansas game, and that's a good thing. Our goal is to focus on us, get better and finish these three games playing our best football."
"Our mindset is so much on nine wins that we know we have to be prepared to play and reach that goal," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said.
Wallace, Passing Game In Focus
After a stat correction from Saturday's game against Arkansas, Wallace is now credited with a career-best 416 passing yards and 428 total yards, which both rank No. 2 in school history, to go along with three touchdowns. He also ranks top 25 nationally in total offense (283.2 ypg) and passing (264.8 ypg).
He moved into fifth place in school history in career total offense yards (5,942), passing Jevan Snead and Archie Manning this past Saturday, and sixth place in career passing yards (5,386), fourth in passing touchdowns (36) and second in 300-yard passing games (7).
"It was a goal of mine to do that," said Wallace, of his place in the record books. "It's surprised some people that it's happened so early, but I'm a confident. I think I'm the best when I walk out there, whether I am or not.
"I just got to keep improving. There are so many things I can still get better at. Last offseason, I didn't really get a chance to get better physically. This year, I'm really excited about the offseason to do that."
Led by Wallace, the Rebels finished with a season-high 428 passing yards and eclipsed 500 yards for the third straight game and the fourth time this year. They had two receivers with over 100 receiving yards for the first time since 2003.
Ole Miss has four receivers with over 200 receiving yards for the year, not including freshman tight end Evan Engram who is out for the year with an ankle injury.
"We're really fortunate to have all of those guys," Luke said. "Coach Heard does a great job. Those guys play hard and are very unselfish. There are times e have asked them to block on the perimeter, and they have done that. It's good to see those guys step up and make plays."
Freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has a team-high 49 catches for 424 yards and three touchdown, followed by junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief with 41 catches for a team-high 647 yards and team-high five touchdowns.
Senior Ja-Mes Logan has 35 catches for 496 yards and three touchdown, and junior wide receiver Vince Sanders has 10 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown, to go along with a team-leading 20.4 yards per catch.
"I'm not looking at who I'm throwing to," Wallace said. "We have great receivers everywhere. When I make a read, I don't care who it is."
"As receivers, we feel like we're the group of this team that gets everybody going," Sanders said. "When we make a play, the offense flows. When don't make plays, the offense struggles. As a group, we feel like the group goes through us."
Treadwell Among Nation's Best, Tunsil Honored
Treadwell, who caught a game-high passes for 39 yards and a touchdown against Arkansas, now has a team-high 49 catches for 424 yards. His 5.4 catches per game leads SEC freshmen and ranks third among freshmen nationally. It also ranks fifth in the SEC and 56th nationally.
"You look at him and he looks like an NFL receiver right now," Wallace said. "He's done a great job. He can get so much better. He probably has the best hands on the team, him and Donte, probably. He'll work on his route-running and mature. His body will get better. You guys are going to have a lot of fun watching him."
Another freshman, Laremy Tunsil, was honored as SEC offensive lineman of the week, as he helped Ole Miss to the second-most passing yards in school history and the third straight game of 500-plus total offense yards.
Tunsil has played in every game and started six at left tackle, and he is one of two true freshmen in the nation to be his team's full-time starting left tackle.
"Not when he's a five-star who comes in, looks the way does and works the way he does," said Wallace, of a lack of trust with a freshman left tackle. "I trust him as much as everyone else up there."
"The proof is in the pudding," Bell said. "You see his footwork. He's a natural-born athlete. I was amazing especially comparing my freshman year to how he is now. It's great and it only gets better from here. He does everything pretty well. There's always room for improvement. He does everything pretty well. He hits his landmark, shoots his hands, and most importantly, he keeps his feet moving."
Bowl Projections For Now Bowl-Eligible Rebels
After Saturday's game against Troy (11 a.m., ESPNU), Ole Miss plays its sixth of six straight games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and finishes the seven-game home slate with with a primetime showdown against No. 9 Missouri on Nov. 23 (6:45 p.m., ESPN). The Rebels wrap up the regular season on Thanksgiving night against intrastate rival Mississippi State (6:30 p.m., ESPN).
In this week's bowl projections, ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards and CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm all have the Rebels in the Music City Bowl, while SI.com's Stewart Mandel has them in the Gator Bowl.
Coming off its first and only bye week of the season, Ole Miss wrapped up a five-game, 10-day stretch, which included a top-10 team in Missouri in Columbia, Mo., and three other road matches
The Rebels finished 2-3 over the five games, which included a 2-1 mark this past week, with 3-1 road wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee, and then a 3-1 home loss to Texas A&M Sunday.
"We did some really good things," head coach Joe Getzin said. "It's a process to learn how to compete more than one day and having to come back and do it again even when you're a little bit fatigue, and hopefully they learn that as young players to be able to respond."
Sophomore Nakeyta Clair had a team-high 47 kills for the week, including a career-high 19 kills against Mississippi State. She also had 15 kills against Tennessee and a team-high 13 kills against Texas A&M. Clair ranks third all-time in single-season program history in block solos (21), block assists (88) and total blocks (109).
"I was looking at the court and finding a spot to put the ball, and it's been working pretty well," Clair said. "That's a big thing, and picking up my blocking."
A large part of Clair's success can also be credited to freshman setter Aubrey Edie, who is averaging a team-high 9.22 assists per set, ninth best in the SEC and second best among freshmen in the SEC. She also had a pair of double-doubles this week with 42 assists and 12 digs against Mississippi State and 47 assists and 10 digs against Tennessee.
"Our relationship has improved so much since the first game," Clair said. "She knows me now and where to put the ball for me. If we mess up, she knows it's OK, because she will set me again. We have grown a lot."
After Ole Miss took a 20-10 lead into halftime, the momentum swung in favor of Arkansas after an interception, a touchdown-scoring drive and a defensive three-and-out to start the third quarter.
Now leading 20-17, senior quarterback Barry Brunetti converted a 3rd-and-1 from the Ole Miss 15 with a 4-yard run. Two plays later, junior quarterback Bo Wallace found senior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan for a 75-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 27-17.
"We put it in after the first series of the second half," said Freeze of that play. "I told our guys to go over and draw one up in the dirt kind of, and that was the Ja-Mes touchdown."
"On that drive, we had to go out and put something together and at least get a field goal, or something, because we couldn't let them have any more momentum than they had already gained," Wallace said. "I was really close to not throwing it. Ja-Mes wasn't really telling me what he was going to do, but once I saw him go the next time, I just laid it up and he was able to run under it."
It turned the momentum back in favor of Ole Miss, and the Rebels went on to win 34-24 to gain bowl eligibility for the second straight year under head coach Hugh Freeze.
Wallace completed 26-of-33 passes for a career-high 407 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Wallace's 407 yards passing is the fifth-highest total by a quarterback in Ole Miss history, and it was his second career 400-yard passing game.
Behind Wallace, the Rebels finished with a season-high 419 passing yards and surpassed 500 total yards for the third straight game and the fourth time this year.
"Bo's day was phenomenal," Freeze said.
"It seems like every year we get on a roll around this time, so we have to go back in to work tomorrow and keep that going," Wallace said.
The Rebels completed passes to seven different receivers, and had two receivers with over 100 receiving yards for the first time since 2003. Junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief had a season-high seven receptions for a season-high 149 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown catch, while Logan had five catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
"I was trying to think back to the teams that I have had at other schools, and it certainly wasn't to this level," said Freeze, of the Ole Miss receiving corps. "I would venture to guess, having followed Ole Miss football for a long time, that our group can arguably be put up with the best receiving corps through its history. They're up there."
"I have said all year what I think," Wallace said. "I may have caught some flak for it. ... I want to say it, but I'm not going to say it, so we'll let that go, but I think they're great players."
Junior guard Jarvis Summers scored a career-high 28 points to lift Ole Miss past Troy, 69-54, in Saturday's season opener in the Tad Smith Coliseum. He shot 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from the field, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.
"He was huge," Kennedy said. "When you're void of offense, you need guys to step up and he was tremendous early."
Summers scored 22 of his 28 points in the first half on 9-for-11 shooting, including 4-for-4 from 3-point range. The rest of the team was just 7-for-32 in the first half, as the Rebels took a 39-26 lead into halftime.
"Offensively, we seemed like we were out of rhythm," Kennedy said. "We had spurts where we looked pretty good with Derrick (Millinghaus) pushing the ball in the open floor. With Marshall not in the lineup, I went with my more experienced guys in Derrick and Jarvis, and I think Jarvis really responded offensively off the ball, which is something we're looking for him to do.
He got the start in the backcourt with sophomore guards Derrick Millinghaus and Martavious Newby. Millinghaus was second on the team with 13 points, including 10 in the second half.
"It's one of the reasons that I went with him and Derrick because I wanted to change his mindset initially," Kennedy said. "I have been challenging him to score and look to score more. When he has the ball at the point, he's more of a facilitator. I was trying to get him to be aggressive, and my hope is that he knows that he needs to be a double-figure scorer for us night in and night out."
"I feel like I'm capable of scoring, but most of all, I want to get my teammates involved, do what coach wants me to do and try to get the win," Summers said. "If he wants me to score and be more aggressive, then that's what I'm going to do."
Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
Robert Nkemdiche will return against Arkansas, having missed the LSU and Idaho games after suffering a hamstring injury against Texas A&M. The freshman defensive lineman has played in and started six games, recording 15 total tackles (11 solo) and four tackles for loss.
"He looks really good," defensive line coach Chris Kiffin said. "He looks quick and light on his feet. We just got make sure he's 100 percent. He's still feeling it a little bit out here. He's down 15 pounds. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing, but he looks really quick out here. It's just him picking up the mental side again."
Nkemdiche will move inside to defensive tackle, where he started against Alabama, while junior Bryon Bennett will remain outside at defensive end, where he started the last three games.
"That's the plan with who we got right now with C.J. (Johnson) being out for the year and Bryon doing a good job out there," Kiffin said. "Maybe that's Rob's future, so that's where we're at right now.
"He's physical enough. He gives those guys problems inside because of how quick he is, and he's not afraid to get physical. It's just natural for him."
Nkemidche and the Ole Miss defense will be tasked with an Arkansas offense that has rushed for at least 200 yards in six of nine games and average 211.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks third in the SEC. The Razorbacks also lead the league and rank fifth nationally allowing just 0.78 sacks per game.
On the offensive line, Arkansas has opened each of the last four games with the same five starters, including a pair of freshman guards in Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper, who have started each of the last five games.
"They look like freshmen that are getting better every game," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, of Kirkland and Skipper. "They didn't play them as much early in the season. Both of them are going to be really good football players. You see them make mistakes at times, but they're getting better every time."
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with members of the media following Tuesday's practice.
'We're not afraid to use any of the four'
With senior running back Jeff Scott out each of the last two games with a thigh bruise, sophomore running backs I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton have carried the load on the ground for the Rebels.
Mathers carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards against LSU, then 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 Idaho.
Walton rushed for two touchdowns in both games, as he set career highs with 19 carries for 106 yards against the Tigers, then rushed 11 times for 86 yards against Vandals. With those four scores, he now leads the team with five rushing touchdowns this year.
"They took the bull by the horns, so to speak," running backs coach Derrick Nix said. "It's never been about their ability. They had just been waiting for the opportunity to get on the field and show what they could do.
"I'm glad a year ago they got the little experience that they did, so right now, they don't any type of stage fright, and the big lights don't bother them at all. They just go out and perform to their capabilities and do the things they could always do."
The Idaho game was also an opportunity for freshmen Mark Dodson and Kailo Moore, as Dodson set career highs with seven carries for 57 rushing yards and recorded a 30-yard touchdown catch, the first score of his career.
"He earned the right to get some looks," said head coach Hugh Freeze, of Dodson. "I'm not afraid at all to play him. He'll probably get a carry or two."
"He's had more excitement and enthusiasm about practice," Nix added. "Not that he didn't have it all year but you could see more of a bounce in his step. I feel like he has a real shot of helping us out on Saturday."
The status of Scott for Saturday remains uncertain, but Freeze is confident about his other four running backs.
"I like the way they're going about their business," he said. "They're taking the chances they have been given and made the most of it. All four of them have looked good in some things this week. We're not afraid to use any of the four. Jeff, I'm not sure. We'll have to make that call tomorrow."
Running backs coach Derrick Nix meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
Tunsil, Golson Continue To Progress
Freshman offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson have played in every game this season, with Tunsil starting five games at left tackle and Golson playing extensively at guard.
"Laremy has played solid the entire time," Freeze said. "He's really special. It's a little easier to play on the edge. We threw Austin in the middle in that first game, and there is a lot of different things happening in there. It's been more of a process, but he's improving and not making as many mistakes."
Offensive line coach Matt Luke has also been pleased with Tunsil and Golson.
"He does a lot of things well," said Luke, of Tunsil. "He can get bigger and stronger, but technically, that's what makes him special. He does a lot of things naturally. He's good with his hands and has a really good base with his lower body. He's a natural pass protector. We're very fortunate to have him. He's playing really well overall."
"He's probably not the prototypical guard," said Luke, of Golson. "He's more of tackle, but because of the seniors we have at tackle, he has stepped in there for us and played it well for 40-50 snaps a game at least.
Tunsil's emergence at left tackle, where he has started each of the last four games, has allowed senior offensive lineman Emmanuel McCray to move around and contribute at both tackle position, left guard and tight end, when the Rebels are in their six offensive lineman set.
A strong Arkansas defensive line is led by senior defensive end Chris Smith, who is tied for second in the SEC and tied for 13th nationally with 7.0 sacks. As a team, the Razorbacks rank third in the SEC and tied for 27th nationally with 22.0 sacks.
"They're very good," Luke said. "Their front four collectively is as good as we have seen. 86 (Trey Flowers), 42 (Smith), 91 (Darius Philon), 54 (Byran Jones), all those guys are good players. I have been very impressed."
Offensive line coach Matt Luke meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.
Members of the Ole Miss men's tennis team landed in the Big Apple late Tuesday afternoon for the year's second national championship, the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor.
An elite field of men's and women's tennis players from all divisions and schools across the country have descended on the nation's largest city and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where competition will take place Nov. 7-10.
It's a highlight of the fall for players to earn a spot in the national indoor, because it's played at the site of the US Open. Ole Miss is well represented in this year's tournament with Nik Scholtz in singles and William Kallberg and Stefan Lindmark in doubles.
Scholtz received an at-large bid as a finalist from the USTA/ITA Southern Regional Championships, while Kallberg and Lindmark earned their trip to New York by winning the Southern Region Doubles title. Scholtz is making his second consecutive appearance in the field, while the Swedish duo competes for the first time in the prestigious tournament.REBELS AND THE NATIONAL INDOOR
Ole Miss has a long-standing history at this event going back more than a decade. The Rebels have had a representative at the National Indoors 11 of the last 12 years. Scholtz will be the fifth player in the Rebels' history to play in the event more than once.
Former three-time All-American Erling Tveit qualified for the event three times and reached the quarterfinals in singles in 2006 and teamed with Jonas Berg to win the doubles consolation in 2007. The following year (2008), Berg teamed up with Bram ten Berge to reach the semifinals. In 2010, twins Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann finished runner-up at the national indoor. A REMATCH
Scholtz gets a rematch from the All-American Championships in October, as he faces the third seed, Julian Lenz of Baylor. This will be the third meeting between the two players. Scholtz won the first meeting last year when the two played No. 1 singles in the Rebels' 4-2 win over the Bears in the regular season. Lenz took out Scholtz in the second round of the All-American earlier this fall. This will be the first meeting between the two indoors.
"Everyone in the field is good. If you're in this tournament, you're either a top 10 player or you won your region," Scholtz said. "Success in life always requires a little bit of luck as well, but I definitely have to serve well and return well. Physically I feel great. I just have to go out there and leave it all on the court and the results will follow. If you focus on playing your best and giving it everything you have on every point, the results will come."LEFTY DUO
Kallberg and Lindmark are the sixth Ole Miss doubles team in the last seven years and fourth in a row to make the field. The lefty duo, with their 6-1 record, hope they can make a run in New York to gain some momentum for the spring season.
"It would be really good for the spring season and the team, because then perhaps we could play No. 1 doubles," Lindmark said. "That would be a lot of fun."
The Stockholm, Sweden natives will face Florida State's Benjamin Lock and Marco Nunez, who own a 9-1 record and won the Southeast Regional.
Players will attend a tournament banquet Wednesday night and then play begins Thursday morning at 8 a.m. CT. Be sure to follow all the action including live scores
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As excited as they were about the open week, head coach Hugh Freeze said they're equally as excited to get back to playing this week against Arkansas. It's the fourth of six straight home games and will be the Rebels' first game of the year with a kickoff earlier than 5:30 p.m.
"To be at home again is always nice," Freeze said, as before the open date there were three straight home games and after the open date there will be three straight home games. "We're looking forward to getting an early kickoff. That's something we haven't had this year," Freeze said. "We've enjoyed the ones we've had, but it's always nice to get a variety."
"I'm so glad that we have an early kickoff," junior quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We wake up and go play, instead of having to sit in the hotel room all day and watch games, so yeah I'm excited about these morning kickoffs."
Ole Miss (5-3, 2-3 SEC) had won back-to-back games over then-No. 6 LSU and Idaho entering the bye week, while Arkansas (3-6, 0-5 SEC) won their first three games, but have lost six straight, including most recently a 35-17 loss to No. 8 Auburn.
"The off week came at a good time, and hopefully we won't be very rusty at all, but we'll continue to improve, as I thought we had the last couple of weeks," Freeze said. We're playing a very scary football team to me. If they ever convert drives, they'd be very, very dangerous. They control the time of possession, and they run the football extremely well."
"They're a lot better than a lot people think they are," Wallace said. "They're close to coming through and win some games, and they're still playing hard. If you watched the Auburn game, you could tell they're still playing hard. They'll be a tough test."
Offensively, Arkansas is led by a dynamic running back duo of freshman Alex Collins (98.8 ypg) and sophomore Jonathan Williams (79.6), who rank fourth and seventh in the SEC, respectively.
As a team, the Razorbacks have rushed for at least 200 yards in six of nine games and average 211.2 rushing yards per game, which ranks third in the SEC. Arkansas also ranks fifth in the SEC in time of possession (30:51), including 34:14 time of possession against Auburn.
"They are closer than people realize, and they scare you," Freeze said. "If you have one or two turnovers, you may not see the ball again. Last week, Auburn, which is somewhat similar to us in a tempo offense, only had 21 snaps in the first half."
"That's frustrating for me when I have to sit over there for so long, and they're just running the ball," Wallace said. "You just have to stay on the phone with Coach Werner and get what him and Coach Freeze are thinking about and keep all the guys up on the sideline."
More Depth, Flexibility On Defense
Ole Miss has been hit hard with injuries this year, with three starters out for the year in junior offensive lineman Aaron Morris (ACL), junior defensive end C.J. Johnson (ankle) and freshman tight end Evan Engram (ankle). Several other key players missed either LSU or Idaho game, or both.
Entering this week, however, Freeze said they're as healthy as they've been in a while, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
"Still questionable are Charles Sawyer and Jeff Scott," Freeze said. "I think everyone else will be ready, except for those out for the year, like C.J. Johnson, Aaron Morris, and Evan Engram. Carlos Thompson is still on the doubtful list. The off week came at a good time. Hopefully we won't be very rusty at all and will continue to improve as I thought we had the last couple of weeks."
Among those expected to return are three defensive starters in freshman defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and sophomore cornerback Mike Hilton.
"All of the people who played and contributed whenever everyone was gone, it helps them and help us as a defense because it gives them confidence when they come into the game," junior linebacker Serderius Bryant said. "They give us more depth on defense."
Their expected return, Freeze said, gives them not only more depth but also more flexibility on defense.
"Robert gives us better depth and some flexibility to move people around up front," Freeze said. "Denzel was our leading tackler last year and hopefully to have him healthy for a stretch of games will pay great dividends. Hilton, I thought was maybe the most-improved player on our defense. We do a lot of things with him. He can play our nickel, our corner and anywhere in six-defensive back formation. All those guys give us some flexibility."
Bowl Implications For Both Teams
A win over Arkansas would make Ole Miss bowl eligible for the second straight year under Hugh Freeze.
In this week's bowl projections, ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards both have the Rebels in the Music City Bowl, CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm has them in the Gator Bowl and SI.com's Stewart Mandel have them in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
"It's exciting," Wallace said. "We were 5-3 at this same point, so the first step is being bowl eligible, and then building on that. Any time you can get that sixth win, it's a big game and a big week."
On the other sideline, for Arkansas, it has to win out in its final three games at Ole Miss, at home against Mississippi State and at LSU to become bowl eligible.
"They have to win these last three games to get into a bowl game, and they feel like we were in the Mississippi State game last year," Bryant said. "They're going to bring it and do everything in their will to win this game."
One of only three programs of its kind in the nation, the UM curriculum is designed to train professionals to help those with traumatic brain injuries recover better. The new special education doctoral program trains educators to use therapies that incorporate mathematics, language and other subjects to speed and improve recovery.
The new special education Ph.D. has multiple components: one helps students learn how the brain works, while other sections of the curriculum deal with literacy, diversity and behaviors. Neurosciences are studied in all areas of the new program.
"We're going to be able to really draw a lot of students nationally because of the Ph.D. with the neuroscience component," said Roy J. Thurston, UM assistant professor of special education. "Some other universities have master's degrees in neuroscience, but the only other doctorates I know of are at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University."
Chancellor Dan Jones, who is a medical doctor, has been a leader in the movement to understand and prevent concussions in sports. In 2012, he was appointed to chair a Southeastern Conference working group on concussions. He said he is happy that the university's faculty is engaged in addressing the issue through the new program.
"I am pleased that our faculty are providing leadership in the field of education, especially in the area of educating those with traumatic brain injury," Jones said. "This is another great example of University of Mississippi faculty seeking opportunities to transform lives through education and service."
Thurston, who set up the UM Ph. D. program, did his research is in cognitive rehabilitation of those with traumatic brain injuries and also in neuroscience applications to education. The therapies taught in the program could be particularly useful as it relates to college and professional football.
"When people pursue this degree, they can go work not just in K-12 education systems; they can work in rehabilitation and also hospital situations," Thurston said. "Because there are so many brain injuries now and the survival rate is huge compared to what it used to be, they really need cognitive rehabilitation. We look at how we're going to get these people back to school, back to competitive employment, get their lives back together."
The therapies taught in the program could be particularly useful as more emphasis has been placed in recent years on head injuries in college and professional football. Officials have pushed to limit the number of injuries through better helmet technology and rules changes designed to make the game safer. But injuries still occur, and advancements in figuring out how to treat them continue.
The SEC working group on concussions, which Jones chaired, announced an update in May, having reviewed the Concussion Management plans of all SEC member institutions and conducted an extensive review of studies, practices, and literature on concussions. The Group remains in existence and will continue to review research, identify best practices and standards of care, disseminate information to SEC member institutions and develop educational strategies.
"There is much work to be done, and while the Conference has a role to play, prevention and treatment of concussion injuries is a national concern that needs and deserves a coordinated national effort," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive stated. "For this reason, the Presidents and Chancellors will make a formal request that the NCAA take the lead in organizing and spearheading a national research effort and examining possible revisions to playing rules in football and other sports.
"The Group's objective was and is to help member institutions in their respective efforts to safeguard the health and welfare of student athletes. The Group gathered information about concussions, identifying best practices and standards of care, as well as provided information about such practices and standards to team physicians, trainers, athletic directors, and coaches of SEC member institutions.
The Ole Miss football team currently uses the IMPACT test, which is part of the testing used when an athlete shows any symptoms or signs of a concussion, such as linebacker Serderius Bryant who suffered a concussion against Texas A&M earlier this season.
"Every single athlete that comes in here, as part of the pre-participation physical exam, everybody has baseline screening for cognitive and motor skills," said Shannon Singletary, Senior Associate A.D. for Health and Sports Performance.
"We do balance testing. And we do cognitive testing, both on and off the computer. They do IMPACT testing, which is on a computer, and it tests hand-eye coordination, cerebral input and memory, among other things.
"On the front end, we give all our athletes an education sheet with the symptoms of concussions. We also post them in their locker rooms. If you have any of these, you must report these symptoms to the athletic trainer. Once those symptoms are reported, then we can go back and test them again on those tests and compare them to their baselines. No athletes who have concussion symptoms during a game are allowed to go back into the game until we feel 100 percent that those symptoms have been resolved, and there has been a period of healing."
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