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September 24, 2012

Notes: Wallace optimistic he'll play against Tide


Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze looks back on the Rebels' win over Tulane and ahead to their meeting Saturday at No. 1 Alabama.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Bo Wallace has never been injured, so his recovery experience is limited, but he's optimistic his shoulder will loosen up before Ole Miss meets No. 1 Alabama at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

The Ole Miss starting quarterback took a hit on his throwing shoulder during the early portion of the Rebels' 39-0 win over Tulane this past weekend, and as the game moved along, Wallace's ability to operate the offense diminished.

The soreness and tightness remained Sunday and was somewhat better when Wallace spoke to reporters Monday afternoon.

"It was tight, really tight," Wallace said. "We'll get in there and get it worked on. It was stiff and not much range of motion yesterday. I hurt it the second or third drive and then in the third quarter I took a hit right on it and told them I couldn't go anymore."

While the Rebels easily stormed past Tulane, Wallace had his worst outing to date, completing just 7-of-16 passes for 101 yards. He said the Green Wave's defense was easy to read, but he didn't have the focus necessary and then the shoulder limited him.

Head coach Hugh Freeze said he saw signs of Wallace not being prepared during walkthroughs on Friday and Saturday but also agreed that the shoulder was a major reason for his lackluster day.

"I thought I was prepared," Wallace said. "I knew what they were going to do, but I didn't show up to play. When I talked to (Freeze after the game), I apologized for the lack of focus during the week and how I played. Definitely have to be more focused on Monday and Tuesday and throughout the week and definitely on Saturdays, little better focus."

Through the first four games of the season, Wallace has 179 yards rushing, good for second on the team, and two touchdowns. He's taken several big hits and hasn't shied away from contact against linebackers and safeties.

"With the guys we're going to be playing against the rest of the year, I definitely have to pick my spots to fall and not worry about gaining three more yards, just fall and get ready for the next play," Wallace said.

"It's really difficult. My dad and coaches have told me that, but in a game you're fighting for everything you can."

REBELS BRACE FOR MEETING WITH 'GOLD STANDARD': Freeze referred to Alabama Monday as the "gold standard in football right now," adding that the Rebels want to play in games like Saturday night's in Tuscaloosa.

"It'll be a fun environment to play in," Freeze said, "to get to see kind of where we are and the next step of our journey. Hopefully we have improved and will handle that atmosphere a little better than we did the last time we had that opportunity."

Freeze had high praise for the top-ranked Crimson Tide on Monday, noting that Alabama is well-coached, talented, deep and always in position.

"That allows them to play with a high motor all the time," Freeze said. "I know (Alabama coach Nick Saban) requires that of his kids, and I know when you play that many people without having a significant drop-off and when you have that, it helps even more. They have tremendous depth and tremendous talent."

Freeze said tempo can be an advantage or a disadvantage against a team like Alabama, noting the Rebels have to "come up with a gameplan that can be most effective for our kids."

Freeze said he knows the Rebels' chances against the Tide are a "David versus Goliath deal," adding, "Why not go have fun with it? We have nothing to lose.

"If you're made to compete, that's the kind of environment you want to be in. You sure hope you can go and put your best foot forward. That's our plan, and that's the way we'll think. Everyone knows this is a tall challenge. It's been a tall challenge for everyone that's played them the last few years. If you pull their stats from last year to this year and see what offenses did against them, they don't give up more than 200 yards to anyone. You look on there and see them hold LSU to 92 (yards) last year. That's intimidating somewhat, but at the same time, it motivates you to prepare and let's go see."

REBELS TO GO BIG?: Freeze was asked if Ole Miss would go with a 4-3 alignment against Alabama's power running attack Saturday. He danced around the question a bit, acknowledging that the Rebels will have that package ready but pointing out that Ole Miss "doesn't add a lot of mass when we make that switch. It's not a huge difference in what we have. We are who we are. We've got to get our kids to play above and beyond what we have before to be competitive in this game."

REBELS-AGGIES KICKOFF TIME SET: Kickoff for Ole Miss' SEC home opener against the Texas A&M Aggies on Oct. 6 has been set for 6 p.m. CT, the Southeastern Conference announced Monday. The game will be televised by ESPNU.

MORRIS HONORED BY LEAGUE: Ole Miss sophomore Aaron Morris has been named Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Rebels' 39-0 win at Tulane, the league office announced Monday.

A 6-5, 330-pound left guard, Morris helped Ole Miss amass 450 total yards, including 304 on the ground, against the Green Wave. The Rebels eclipsed 300 rushing yards for the second time this year.

The Jackson, Miss., native has started all four games at left guard this season and eight of the last 10 dating back to last year. He is helping Ole Miss lead the SEC and rank 11th nationally in rushing offense at 259.8 yards per game.

"He's the most talented kid we have," Freeze said. "He's an SEC lineman for sure. We need him to be effective. He did have his best game. When he knows what to do and he's comfortable with what's going on, he can be very good."

It is Morris' first SEC weekly honor in his career. He is the third Rebel to claim an award this year, joining Week 1 Defensive Lineman of the Week C.J. Johnson and Week 2 Offensive Lineman of the Week A.J. Hawkins.


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