Rebels preparing for the ‘gold standard’ of SEC

Posted on Sep 19 2013 - 8:38am by John Luke McCord

Hugh Freeze said he was pleased with his team after Wednesday’s practice. However, in the same breath he noted the challenge they face in the coming weeks of preparing for Alabama, who he calls the “gold standard of our conference.”

“We had a lot of good energy, lot of good competition. We went all good on good,” Freeze said following Wednesday’s work.

“We scripted some things (the defense) wanted to see from (the offense) and they scripted some things we wanted to see from them. It was a good day. I thought we got some good work in.”

The staff began watching film of Alabama, who the Rebels will face a week from Saturday in Tuscaloosa, and they saw what they expected to see from the back-to-back national champions.

“They’re good, real good like they always are,” Freeze said. “You just don’t find many weaknesses.”

Alabama is coming off a win against reigning Heisman winner and current Heisman candidate Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide escaped with a 49-42 victory.

“In their previous game you don’t feel good about some of the yards the team they played got because it was guys just making great plays,” Freeze said. “You can’t depend on that.”

Freeze wasn’t done praising the champs, however.

“They have a lot of depth, they’re big and strong, fast,” Freeze said. “I think their offense is maybe a little better than it’s been, or a little more explosive. Special teams are excellent. We’ve got a tall task.”

Freeze also spoke about a trio of freshmen and their progress on Wednesday.

Freeze on Robert Nkemdiche: “I think he’s getting better every week. Still makes some mistakes. No question he’s getting better. I thought the second half of the Texas game was his best half of football. Excited about his progress.”

Freeze on Tony Conner: “Just love him, pleased. Really good player, can do a lot of things for you. Enables us not to have to go to a 4-3 personnel as much. He loves to compete and love his demeanor. Real pleased with him. His ceiling is huge.”

Freeze also said he is hopeful Conner can act as a third linebacker more often out of the husky position.

Freeze on Laremy Tunsil: “He’s come along really good. A special player, a special talent.”

Freeze noted he has been pleased with the freshmen so far, but that after this tough upcoming stretch he would know more about their adjustment period.

As far as hobbled players go, Freeze said he hopes to have Patrick Junen back when they play the Crimson Tide because of the versatility he brings to the offensive line. He also noted that I’tavius Mathers tweaked his recovering ankle on Tuesday and he is not where they want him to be, but Freeze said he would be “alright.”