Knox Healthy As Rebels Welcome Bye Week
Sept. 20, 2017
Ole Miss has had two physical practices in full pads this week before scaling back as the weekend nears to let the players heal and get rested. With more than a week to prepare for the nation’s number one team, Alabama, Matt Luke and his staff are using this time to correct some of the mistakes that led to the Rebels’ first defeat of the season.
“Tackling circuit on defense and blocking stuff on offense,” Luke said. “We have also done a lot of good-on-good work, which takes advantage of the speed of the game and working on some one-on-one pass rush. Really, just a lot of focusing on ourselves and mixing in a little bit of Alabama trying to get ahead.”
Cal administered Ole Miss its first dose of adversity on the field. Luke sensed an unhappiness with his players over the result, but certainly no sign of the adversity hurting them.
“I don’t think the guys have blinked,” Luke said. “I don’t think they’re happy about it, as no one is after a loss. I think the best way to get the bad taste out of your mouth is to go back to work. Yesterday after practice you start feeling a little bit better. You just have to get back to work, that is the best way to get that taste out of your mouth.”
One predicament the Rebels face is finding someone to play center in place of Sean Rawlings, who sprained his ankle against Cal and had surgery on Monday. Rawlings has not been ruled out of playing against Alabama, but the team will certainly need to have another option prepared.
Javon Patterson stepped in and finished the remainder of last week’s game at center, but the team has been working Jordan Sims there in practice this week.
Luke said if there were a game today and Rawlings couldn’t go, he would go with Sims at center and Patterson at left guard. It is less about Patterson’s ability to play center and more about having both of them on the field at the same time with Patterson at left guard and Alex Givens at right guard.
One health note the Rebels will actually be pleased with is that tight end Dawson Knox played 20 snaps last week. It was his first action of the season after fracturing is foot in fall camp. He’s a big, athletic target in the middle of the field for Shea Patterson to throw to and certainly helps Ole Miss when he is healthy.
“It was good to get my first game under my belt,” Knox said. “I only got about 20 plays under my belt but it was pretty good, as good as a fractured foot can feel.”
Knox says he doesn’t feel much pain and it is more just some natural soreness that flares up at times.
“I can definitely play through it,” Knox said. “It has gotten better since fall camp. I feel pretty good on it.”
He said he would alert the coaching staff if the pain got worse, but had another MRI as recently as Sunday and the medical staff told him it looked good.
The Rebels will ease into their bye week by taking the pads off at practice tomorrow. Luke wants to keep this team fresh as it faces its toughest test of the season in a little over a week.
“Tomorrow we will probably take the pads off of them, give them a couple days to rest up and then start our normal week back Sunday,” Luke said. “Because we are farther ahead tape-wise, we may go full pads on Sunday and back off towards the end of the week so they are fresher.”
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