Numbers

Bo Wallace

There are several "hobbled" Rebels trying to get ready for the LSU game in Baton Rouge Saturday. With a 70-player travel limit, do you take the somewhat injured and leave some able-bodied at home or not dress some stalwarts who are less than 100% and take some backups for numbers?

While most of the walking wounded - sans DT Issac Gross and DE C.J. Johnson - are dressing out and practicing this week, trying to get ready for LSU in Baton Rouge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have some hard decisions to make in the next 24-36 hours.

"Trae Elston, Woody Hamilton, Wesley Pendleton, C.J., Issac and a couple of more are going to try to play, but we really aren't sure if they can yet or not," said Freeze, analyzing the situation. "We can't take a chance on taking all of those guys.

"We are already thin and we can't take a chance of traveling six or seven guys who can't go. We will have to make some decisions tomorrow."

The lack of bodies and wear and tear of the season has forced Freeze to streamline practices this week.

"We have had to eliminate 4-5 periods, about 20 minutes," he said. "It's hard to say if we have lost anything in execution because of that. In the last few weeks we have not played well at the end of games. You wonder how much is depth issues and how much is rep issues.

"It's a juggling act we all weigh in on - strength coaches, trainers, coaches. We monitor how many reps each kid is getting a day and hopefully at the end of the season with guys who have played a lot of plays, you want them to have something left in the tank these last two games."


Issac Gross
File Photo

This year has also made Freeze have to closely evaluate his recruiting decisions. How many will he sign who have to help now, how many can he sign for the future with a redshirt?

"It's a mixture. Anyone we look at, we have to say immediate help for a certain issue on our team, but we also want to have a group we can redshirt and build our future on," he explained. "The answer is both."

Freeze, who focuses a lot of his attention on the opposing team's defense since he calls the offensive plays, is still very aware of the Tiger offense, especially their stable of running backs.

"(LSU RB Coach) Frank (Wilson, who was with Freeze at Ole Miss during the Ed Orgeron years) has done a great job of recruiting his position, obviously," he continued. "They are big, physical and punishing. They know exactly what they want to do. They force you to commit a number of people to the box to stop the run and now they have confidence in throwing it.

"They create one-on-ones on the outside and they have good skill people who can go make plays. They are playing their best offense of the year I think."

Freeze has been pleased with the way his team has handled going on the road against Top 10 teams, even though they have lost both - Alabama and Georgia.


Bo Wallace
File Photo

"I don't feel like we have gone into those places emotionally overwhelmed. I think they have handled those big venues well," he noted. "When you are a competitor, you like coaching and playing in those arenas.

"This game means something to Rebel Nation and our team. It's been a rivalry for years, so you want to compete at a high level there and you know it's a special place to do it at because of the program and tradition LSU has."

Random Notes:

* QB Bo Wallace sat out most of the drills Tuesday, but he was back in full swing today. He was resting a bruised shoulder, and OC Dan Werner said the rest helped. "He looked good Wednesday - had a little more pop on the ball," noted Werner.

* C.J. Johnson's problems seem to have spread. Last week, toe issues. This week, neck stinger. Will he or won't he play? Nobody knows right now, but he's getting regular treatment for neck spasms and the hope is that he will be able to go. If he cannot, that's more duty for E.J. Epperson and Channing Ward and most likely Jason Jones would start in C.J.'s place. We'll see.

* CB Senquez Golson has dressed out for both practices this week, but he has been limited in reps. He is splitting time at CB with Louis Covington, who got his first start against Vanderbilt when Senquez was not 100%. Again, we'll see.

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