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October 30, 2012
Ole Miss offensive tackle Pierce Burton talks Tuesday about Georgia's Jarvis Jones and the Rebels' progress this season.
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss worked for two hours on Tuesday, continuing its preparation for Saturday's date at No. 7 Georgia.
This time of year, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said, that's as long as his team is going to work.
The Rebels (5-3 overall, 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference) have stayed pretty healthy so far this season. With four games remaining over the next 26 days, maintaining that level of health is paramount.
"I wish we were healthier," Freeze said. "We're beat up in the secondary in particular, with Wesley (Pendleton) and Senquez (Golson). Charles (Sawyer) is going to play, but he's still nursing his foot. (Trae) Elston looks good. Thank God for people like (cornerback) Mike Hilton and (safety) Quintavious Burdette. They're just puppies, but we need that depth right now."
Freeze said he's hopeful Golson (concussion) will be cleared in time to play at Georgia (7-1, 5-1), but the Rebels are making provisions in case. Dehendret Collins, who has been working at Huskie, worked at cornerback Tuesday. Brishen Mathews moved back from safety to Huskie. Burdette worked at cornerback some Tuesday as well.
"We've got to do some shuffling around," Freeze said.
Freeze said he's hopeful the longer commercial breaks that come with a CBS national telecast "will help us some. We're just thin."
Freeze said he thought his team had a good energy level with good focus on Tuesday, a by-product, he said, of the Rebels' two-game winning streak.
"The energy's better," Freeze said. "The mood's better too. Our kids handled some difficult losses too. We handled that loss to Texas that was disappointing. Obviously, the one to (Texas) A&M was very hurtful. I've been real proud of how they've handled the journey of the good and the bad. That's part of this game.
"You're not going to win them all, not in this league. Very rarely does that happen, and given the state of our program right now, I think you've got to handle both equally as well, and I think they've done well doing that."
Freeze said his team has been confident without losing a workmanlike demeanor, "which I think the best teams I've coached had that quality about them. You're very confident, but it doesn't hurt your work ethic and the way you go about your business."
LUKE THINKS THERE'S OL DEPTH: The Ole Miss offensive line hasn't been a main media focus this season, and that's probably a good thing for the Rebels.
Like umpires in baseball, most chatter is negative when it comes to the five guys up front that make offenses tick. For Ole Miss, tempo has been a key topic, and an offensive line without tons of depth has held up well.
In fact OL coach Matt Luke thinks the tempo has been a plus in some ways.
"Just like anything, you get better at what you do," Luke said. "We've stayed consistent with what we do. We haven't changed a whole bunch. So to get better, offensive tempo has helped. We have some smaller guys, so we're a little quicker than most teams we've gone against."
It's also been a group without many significant injuries. Justin Bell dealt with a back injury, but it's luckily been the same five most plays.
"Knock on wood we are fairly healthy," Luke said. "It's week (nine) so there are some bumps and bruises. We've stayed with basically the same five, and those guys are somewhat worn down, but we had an open date, and it's getting cooler. It's linemen weather. It's a little better that way."
Moving forward, Luke feels comfortable with three reserves if called into extended duty.
"Without a doubt, Corey Gaines is coming on," Luke said. "Justin Bell had a great day today, really physical today. Patrick Junen can roll in there with the ones, he practices with the ones. We're developing some depth."
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