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September 19, 2012

Notes: Rebs not as sharp on Wednesday

OXFORD, Miss. -- After an extremely crisp Tuesday practice, Ole Miss regressed a bit on Wednesday.

Head coach Hugh Freeze was pleased with attitudes and energy, but execution didn't match the previous day. His message was simple if the Rebels don't pick it up moving forward.

"Better get them fixed, or we'll get our butts beat," Freeze said. "It's that simple. We'll go watch tape tonight, and it's never usually as bad as you think or as good as you think it is. Attitudes were good. We just looked sloppy and went through the motions on some things.

"We had mistakes that I didn't think we made yesterday on some of the same stuff, so that's a little disappointing."

Defensive tackles Uriah Grant and Woodrow Hamilton missed practice with hand and ankle injuries, respectively. Grant appears closer to game ready since a cast can be used on the injury.

"Good thing we've been playing six of them and getting them reps," Freeze said. "We'll see when they can go again. We've got four guys ready to play there now. Not sure past that. We'll see how it goes."

Ole Miss will face Tulane before eight consecutive Southeastern Conference games to close the season. Getting to 3-1 prior to league play is something Freeze thinks can be beneficial to the psyche of his team. However, it's not just results. He wants execution each week.

"It'd be big, no doubt (to get the third win), with the games we have coming up," Freeze said. "It's a boost to us going into SEC play to be 3-1 and play well. Playing well is important. Obviously getting a win is, too, but playing well is very important. I hope they expect the same of themselves."

In Ole Miss' first two games, the Rebels put together three solid quarters each time but couldn't complete the contests. Things were inconsistent throughout the Texas game, and Freeze can't say for certain when all four quarters will come.

"I'd like to think so, but we haven't done it yet, so it's hard to jump out there and say we are," Freeze said. "I sure hope so."

REBS TO WEAR DW DECALS: Tulane safety Devon Walker broke his neck during the Tulsa game on Sept. 8, and Ole Miss will recognize him by wearing his initials on the Rebel helmets this Saturday.

Walker spent 10 days at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and has moved to a rehab facility.

"We are pleased to have completed the transfer of Devon to a comprehensive in-patient rehabilitation center to continue his recovery," Tulane said in a statement. "We want to express our appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Bill Warren and the wonderful doctors and staff of St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, who provided immediate care for our son. We'll be forever grateful for their devotion to Devon's well-being.

"We will now focus on the next phase of Devon's recovery and ask that all the prayers, well-wishes and support continue with him through his journey. We appreciate everyone's understanding of our request for privacy as we focus on his recovery."

Freeze is happy to help in any way.

"I went through this scenario at Lambuth, and it's something you don't wish on any coach, any family, any player," Freeze said. "It's a horrible experience… WE have a great ambassador of this in Chucky Mullins. I know of the pain it causes and anything you can do to bring recognition to it, we're glad to do."

ALLEN LOOKING TO MAXIMIZE PERSONNEL AT LINEBACKER: Many of Ole Miss' linebackers are a little smaller than what the coaching staff would prefer. Others aren't fast enough. Those deficiencies can be addressed in recruiting, but there are nine games to be played between now and National Signing Day.

What's a linebackers coach to do?

"Basically, we're trying to be situationally sound with our guys," Ole Miss linebackers coach Tom Allen said. "We're going to be able to match that with the offenses we're going to see in the down-and-distance situations. You basically have to take the guys you have and be able to maximize those strengths and weaknesses. That's been a big focus for us this week."

Sophomore C.J. Johnson, a former five-star linebacker prospect who was moved to defensive end last season, appears to have moved back to his original position.

"I think the biggest thing is there's a lot of pride with this football team," Allen said. "You put the film in from Saturday's game (against Texas) and there's a lot of embarrassment with how we played. Kids responded to that."

MACKEY FEELING COMFORTABLE: Randall Mackey has rushed for 138 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries so far this season, his first to play running back after a career as a quarterback.

The bigger challenge for Mackey has been pass protection. He said Wednesday that process is "coming along real good, but I've got to get my technique down better. Going up against those big linebackers, it's kind of important."

Mackey has also completed two passes and caught five, proving to be a key cog for an Ole Miss offense that is second in the SEC in total offense with 500.7 yards per game.

"Since the first game, we've had our confidence up," Mackey said. "Since the first game, we've been kind of rolling."


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