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September 4, 2012OXFORD, Miss. -- When Ole Miss' first second-quarter possession stalled at midfield, the Rebels' punt team took the field for the first time this season.
Tyler Campbell was nowhere to be found.
Instead, Jim Broadway handled the Rebels' punting duties against Central Arkansas, prompting fans and media alike to wonder about Campbell's status and the story behind this mysterious Broadway fellow.
Broadway punted three times in the Rebels' 49-27 win over Central Arkansas, averaging 46.7 yards per kick. It was his first game action since punting in four games at Miami (Ohio) in 2009.
"It feels good to be back," Broadway said. "I thought I was coming in and be a backup that's been there and had enough reps in live games that could handle it. I thought I could step in when they needed me."
Broadway transferred to Ole Miss after leaving Miami following that 2009 season. He changed his academic plans and suffered an injury. However, he never stopped kicking. Broadway worked out on his own, punting on Ole Miss' intramural fields near his apartment.
"I definitely felt I had enough in me to come out and give it a run my last year," Broadway said.
Broadway walked on in the spring and had a solid fall camp. When Campbell and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze decided to experiment with redshirting Campbell and saving his senior season for 2013, Broadway was suddenly in the Rebels' plans.
"I actually didn't find out until probably a week before the game they were going to give me a look at it," Broadway said. "I just took every opportunity I could to take advantage of it. I'm excited about it.
"I wasn't really nervous, actually. To be honest with you, all those punts, I didn't really hit them that great. I guess it was adrenaline and they carried a good ways. I was just glad to be able to help the team in that situation."
Freeze said the Rebels will continue planning to use Broadway as their punter entering Saturday's 6 p.m. game against UTEP (0-1), "but it's not final. We're not going to judge him just off one game. I feel like if we can do that, we set ourselves up to steal a scholarship, so to speak, in next year's signing class because you don't have to worry about signing a kicker or a punter because you have two seniors (Campbell and Andrew Ritter) coming back. If he averages a net of 46 or even a net of 38, we'd be pretty happy. He'd be one of the top ones in the conference, probably, at that."
Broadway's father, Jim Sr., punted at Georgia from 1980-82, winning a national title and three Southeastern Conference championships. The Rebels play at Georgia on Nov. 3.
"He'll love that opportunity to come to that game and see all his buddies," Broadway said.
LUKE STILL SEARCHING FOR DEPTH: Ole Miss offensive line coach Matt Luke was forced to shift some personnel around during Saturday's game against Central Arkansas.
It's something he expects to have to do again.
"Depth-wise for sure, we're going to be experimenting, trying to figure out where we can steal some reps and rest some guys," Luke said. "We're for sure trying to experiment around and figure out a rotation. With this tempo of offense, I think it's going to be great, but we do have to be able to keep going and push the tempo into the second half. That was one of the reasons that contributed to us scoring so much in the second half - the tempo finally caught up with them. But it caught up with us some, too, so we've got to continue to work on that."
Luke said the Rebels played seven linemen _ starters Pierce Burton, Aaron Morris, Evan Swindall, A.J. Hawkins and Emmanuel McCray and backups Patrick Junen and Justin Bell _ throughout the opener. Jared Duke and Ben Still played the final handful of snaps.
"Ben is a guy who is a fighter," Luke said, referring to the freshman center from Memphis, Tenn. "He's a very, hard-nosed young man, and I trust him. He'll go out there and give you what he's got. He's very intelligent and he's going to play hard. Throughout the season, because of our depth, he's going to have to play some."
Luke said he needs "at least eight or nine" offensive linemen to be game-ready to play at the tempo Freeze likes to operate. Corey Gaines, Luke said, is also pushing for time as a reserve.
The focus this week, of course, is UTEP, a defense that held Oklahoma to 24 points in the Miners' opening-day loss to the Sooners thanks to strong play up front.
"I was very impressed with (UTEP's) defensive line. We're going to have our work cut out for us. It's going to be a stiffer challenge. Their interior guys are very physical and they're quick. That was the thing I noticed watching their game against Oklahoma - the quickness of their interior."
REBELS GAINING CONFIDENCE: Ole Miss' win over Central Arkansas Saturday was the program's first since early October and just the seventh in the last two-plus years. The confidence gained from Saturday's win, Freeze said Tuesday, has been evident in practice as the Rebels prepare for Saturday's date with UTEP.
"There's no doubt that winning breeds confidence, and I do think they have more confidence today than they did last week at this time," Freeze said. "Is that going to give us a win Saturday night? Probably not, but it's sure not going to hurt any. The more of those we can get, the more they'll feel better about who they are. It definitely was a spirited Tuesday practice. They kind of feel good about themselves."
That edge that comes with winning, Freeze said, is "invaluable. If you could bottle it and make sure you have it week in and week out, particularly in disappointing times, well, you could make it a lot of money if you could bottle it and sell it to somebody. We work hard and try to make sure we feel good about ourselves and the plan and what we are going to do. Hopefully that breeds some confidence in them for Saturday night."
REBEL RUMBLINGS: Running back Jeff Scott (back) had "a great day" Tuesday, Freeze said. Scott is "ready to go" for Saturday's game, Freeze said. Wide receiver Collins Moore (labrum) "didn't have any issues and seemed to, in the times I saw him in (skeleton drills) running around, look good." Freeze said Bo Wallace is getting 60 percent of the practice reps this week. Barry Brunetti is getting the other 40 percent.
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