Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and his squad enter their first bye week of the 2013 season sitting at 3-0. The bye week comes before a brutal four-game stretch that will see the Rebels travel to Alabama and Auburn before hosting Texas A&M and LSU.
Freeze and the coaching staff are going to use the extra week not only to get the team healthy but also to self-evaluate to see what else they can improve on before heading into the thick of the schedule.
“Trying to figure out what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well, what our tendencies are, to try fix some of the issues we have coming into a very difficult stretch,” Freeze said.
Freeze also noted that he has a few guys on staff who self-scout after each game, but that it was easy to bring the first three games together and look at them extensively during the bye week.
After defeating the Texas Longhorns this weekend in front of the third-largest crowd in the history of Darrell K. Royal Stadium, Freeze said he hopes that can be a building block for his program, while still noting that his program only took “a few steps forward” on Saturday night.
The Rebels were able to keep the Longhorn offense off the scoreboard in the second half. Freeze called it “one of the best halves since we’ve been here.”
However, Freeze did not talk about this weekend’s victory long before he mentioned the four-game stretch to come that includes Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU in the four weeks following the bye week.
“That’s got to be probably the toughest stretch of games that anyone will have to play this year,” Freeze said. “We need this open week. We need to get people healthy. We need everyone who is eligible and able to play in these games, so this week comes at a good time.”
Some of the players who will be trying to get healthy are senior offensive linemen Pierce Burton and Emmanuel McCray, as well as sophomore safety Trae Elston, all of whom will get the week off. Freeze also noted that sophomore linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche will begin to be challenged by the trainers this week.
“He thinks he is playing in the next game; I’m not sure that’s accurate yet,” Freeze said.
Sophomore Mike Hilton has earned the cornerback position after his performance in the second half on Saturday. Senior Dehendret Collins will move back to huskie to give freshman Tony Conner a few snaps off, as Freeze said he played too many on Saturday. Other position changes could be in the works, but he must discuss that with the players in question first.
One change that could be coming is freshman Derrick Jones to cornerback. Freeze noted they think he can be a good, big corner for them. He will also help as the Rebels have some big receivers on the schedule in the coming weeks.
Other press conference notes
Freeze noted that redshirt freshman linebacker Temario Strong performed well on special teams Saturday and that he took a step forward that they have been asking him to take.
This week will be used for self-scouting for other things they could add to the defensive or offensive scheme to make them better. They will work on fundamentals and inserting anything they may have found that can better them on offense or defense. They will begin the preparation for Alabama on Wednesday, while Friday and Saturday will be off days for the players.
Senior wideout Korvic Neat and junior wide receiver Vince Sanders will be able to play when the Rebels face Alabama in two weeks.
Scott receives league honor
Senior running back Jeff Scott was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week after his 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in Saturday’s win at Texas. It was his second touchdown on a punt return in his career.
Scott was also named the National Punt Returner of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
Ole Miss – Alabama game time set
The SEC announced Monday that the Rebels’ game at Alabama on Sept. 28 is set for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Texas A&M and LSU tickets sold out
After the first 3-0 start since 1989, Ole Miss fans are buying up remaining tickets for upcoming games. The Ole Miss Athletics Ticket Office Twitter account tweeted Monday morning that tickets to the Texas A&M and LSU games are sold out. The only way to obtain a ticket for those games through the ticket office is to buy season tickets, which are “very limited.”
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