Rebels Return to Practice in Preparation For Auburn
Oct. 3, 2017

By Brian Scott Rippee,

A humbling defeat often calls for reverting back to the simple things a team does well, sharpening those skills in an effort to give that team a better chance at being successful the next time out. That’s exactly what Ole Miss desires to do this week as it prepares for its return trip to the state of Alabama to face an Auburn team that is playing good football.

“We have to throw it in the trash and do what we can to get better,” offensive lineman Alex Givens said. “That’s all we can do.”

Givens started in Tuscaloosa last Saturday at right tackle as opposed to guard where he has spent the majority of his career. Givens held his own against a fierce Crimson Tide pass rush. He adjusted pretty well to the transition, which gives the Rebels more flexibility to an offensive line that has stayed relatively healthy, but also has nursed some minor injuries.

“It’s different,” Givens said. “I like having my hand in the ground, but it is a learning curve for me and I have been taking day-by-day. I like it. It has been good for me and good for the team.”

The theme of simplicity extends to both sides of the football. Defensive back Myles Hartsfield echoed this. He narrowly missed an interception that he likely could have returned for a touchdown Saturday and knows it is the little things that can be the difference in games at times.

“When I saw the ball thrown it was more of a surprise than anything,” Hartsfield said. “I had great coverage and took my eyes off of for as second and it slipped out of my hands. That is one I have to have.”

Hartsfield, like Givens, is also settling into a new position. He made the move from safety to defensive back during the spring to give the Rebels a little more athleticism at the line of scrimmage against SEC-caliber receivers. The sophomore has played well and has made the move look seamless. He called Tuesday his best practice since the move.



“Today was my best practice since moving to corner,” Hartsfield said. “After four games you get to critique yourself on what you do wrong and get better. I feel like as I have gotten games under my belt I have corrected. I feel like I am becoming a complete corner.”

He and the Rebel secondary will have their hands full with an Auburn offense that is completing 70 percent of its passes with Jarrett Stidham throwing to some large, athletic receivers. Stidham is averaging nine yards per throw.

“They like to take the top off the coverage,” Hartsfield said. “You’ve got to stay in front of them and win the first five yards and just play the ball. Those guys go up and get the ball.”

That high of a completion rate usually stems from a quarterback with a quick release in an offense that gets the ball out of his hands quickly, making that first five yards that Hartsfield alluded

Auburn also boasts a quick, physical defense that is yielding just 11 points per game, making that much more paramount that Ole Miss limit big plays and keep the offense under wraps.

Both Givens and Hartsfield said they felt better after getting the vibe at practice today. Neither of them feel like the defeat to Alabama can break this team, one that has gone through a lot together over the last year.

“It’s hard to digest,” Hartsifeld said. “You’ve just got to get back out onto the practice field and keep working. Look at the things that you messed up on game day and get them corrected.”

The practice field is often a place of solace, especially after a loss. Givens feels that too. For him, it’s simply about getting back to work.

“That’s what we came here to do is work,” Givens said. “We are going to put our heads down and get back to work.”




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