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September 11, 2012

Notes: Elston, Rebels disappointed by suspension



OXFORD, Miss. -- Trae Elston played 30 snaps against UTEP this past Saturday.

The freshman safety from Oxford, Ala., impressed throughout and was due to add more snaps to his workload on Saturday against No. 14 Texas.

However, the Southeastern Conference ruled late Monday that Elston's hit on UTEP wide receiver Jordan Leslie late in the fourth quarter was "flagrant and dangerous" and suspended Elston from the Rebels' much-anticipated date with the Longhorns.

"He was real close to being perfect, in my opinion," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said, "and even they would say that. But there were elements of it that looked like, obviously, the crown of the helmet was involved too much."

Elston entered the workweek No. 2 on the Rebels' depth chart at the rover position, backing up junior Charles Sawyer. Through two games, Elston has recorded seven tackles and a pass break-up.

"He's been great," Freeze said. "He's been super. He's disappointed, obviously. That would have been the biggest game of his life, playing on national TV (against) Texas. He's disappointed, but adversity comes in all kinds of ways within a team or within your life, and when that adversity comes, you've got to make a chance about how to handle it, and Trae's going to handle it the right way. …It'll be tough for him to sit out, of course, because he wants to compete, but he'll handle it OK and bounce back."

Without Elston, the Rebels will lean on Sawyer, Cody Prewitt and Chief Brown in the back of the secondary.

"We have a saying, 'You don't blink. Next man up,'" Freeze said. "We've got to get more plays out of other guys."

The SEC, in a statement released Tuesday morning, said Elston's hit was in violation of Rule 9-1-4 and Rule 9-1-3. Those rules prohibit a player from targeting or initiating contact "to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder," and targeting and initiating contact "against an opponent with the crown of his helmet."

The play was not penalized Saturday night. Replays showed Elston led with his shoulders and his hit appeared to land below Leslie's head. Leslie lay on the field for approximately two minutes before leaving under his own power.

GROSS DEALING WITH CALF INJURY: Issac Gross injured his calf during the season-opening win against Central Arkansas and was limited to just 11 plays on the night.

Against UTEP, the freshman defensive tackle re-aggravated the ailment during pregame warmups but battled through the injury most of the night. During practice Tuesday, Gross rode a stationary bike but didn't participate in live contact.

Head coach Hugh Freeze doesn't expect it to be an injury that prevents playing time.

"Issac has that little deal, but I expect him to go," Freeze said. "That calf has been irritated again. Don't think it's anything, probably going to be something he deals with for a few weeks."

Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack was less definitive in his response about Gross' injury, saying an additional test was planned for later Tuesday.

"I'm not sure (if it's a pain or mobility problem)," Wommack said. "I think they're doing an MRI tonight. We'll see, not sure. I'll let the doctor answer that one."

REBEL RUMBLINGS: Freeze said Korvic Neat will continue to handle punt return duties on Saturday despite muffing a punt against UTEP. "Korvic has been very steady," Freeze said. …Freeze said he watched Texas' offense on tape Monday night. The Longhorns, Freeze said, "are a lot like us. They give you a thousand formations and shifts that you've got to prepare for. They want to do what they want to do, just like we do, but they want to make it look a lot of different ways. They've got a great scheme offensively. We've got to make sure we don't get undisciplined with our eyes or you'll give up a big play in a hurry."


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