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September 16, 2013

Notes: Rebels self-scouting during open date

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze addresses the media Monday.

OXFORD, Miss. -- If Hugh Freeze had his druthers, Ole Miss' bye week would come after the Rebels' Sept. 28 date with top-ranked Alabama and not before it.

Freeze doesn't get to set the schedule, however. So he plans to make the most of a week off now, just before No. 21 Ole Miss opens a brutal four-game stretch that includes dates with the two-time defending national champions, Auburn, No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 6 LSU.

"We've got some kids who we really need to get healthy," Freeze said Monday. "It also gives us extra time to look at ourselves and see how we can break our tendencies and self-scout and it gives us more time to study our opponent also."

The Rebels (3-0 overall, 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference) is coming off an impressive 21-point win at Texas Saturday, one that extended Ole Miss' winning streak to five games dating back to last November's Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State.

Freeze said he was most pleased with Ole Miss' second half in Austin, one that saw the Rebels control both lines of scrimmage, shut out the Longhorns and make just one mental/alignment mistake.

"I told the staff, 'Now we're getting there,'" Freeze said. "We're getting in the right spot now. If they make the play, great. If they don't, you know what, sometimes another team makes a play. I feel much better about us when we're in the right spots. That's what happened in the second half, and we played with great efforts."

Freeze said he and his staff are spending Monday and Tuesday self-scouting and scouting another unnamed team that does things similar to Ole Miss on both offense and defense "to make everything we're doing, we have the full scope. Is there anything we can add to our defense or to our offense that we see someone else doing that is real similar to us?"

The Rebels will begin to look at Alabama on Wednesday and Thursday, though those two practices will primarily be spent on fundamentals and possibly installing some new wrinkles discovered in the scouting sessions earlier in the week. Ole Miss will take Friday and Saturday off before reconvening Sunday to begin game-week preparations for Alabama.

AHEAD OF SCHEDULE?: Freeze said Monday the win over Texas was "definitely a step in the right direction. If you would have told on my first day on the job that in Year Two we would go to a place like Texas and pull of a win at their place, it probably would have been difficult for me to believe at that point."

Freeze reiterated what he said Saturday night, saying the win over the Longhorns indicated the Ole Miss program "didn't take 10 steps forward, but we did take a couple. It's certainly a good win that is something we'll be able to reflect upon to gain confidence."

SCOTT PICKS UP HONORS: After a spectacular performance in Ole Miss' 44-23 win at Texas, senior running back Jeff Scott has been named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week and also picked up a couple of national honors on Monday.

Scott returned a punt 73 yards for an electrifying third-quarter touchdown as the Rebels scored 30 unanswered points to take down the Longhorns in Austin.

The Miami, Fla., native finished the game with a career-high 243 all-purpose yards (tied for 10th-most in school history), including a career-high 164 rushing yards and another TD on the ground. The punt return score marked the second of his career and the longest return of his career. He moved into fourth on the school's all-time all-purpose yardage list with 3,421 yards.

Scott was also named to the Paul Hornung Award Week Three Honor Roll. The Hornung Award is awarded annually to the most versatile player in major college football. The College Football Performance Awards named Scott their National Punt Returner of the Week.

REBELS-TIDE TIME SET: Ole Miss' Sept. 28 game at Alabama has been picked up by ESPN for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff in Tuscaloosa, the SEC announced Monday. It will be the Rebels' second appearance of the season on ESPN. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt opened the season on ESPN on Aug. 30.

REBEL RAMBLINGS: Reserve linebacker Temario Strong had a "phenomenal" game on special teams Saturday, landing one of the key blocks on Scott's punt return for a touchdown. …Freeze said he has never coached a game in which his receivers blocked downfield as well as Ole Miss' did at Texas. …Freeze said linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche (knee) will begin running this week. Nkemdiche wants to play at Alabama next week, though Freeze said he wasn't sure that would happen. …Offensive tackles Emmanuel McCray (knee) and Pierce Burton (ankle) will not practice this week. McCray played just 10 plays Saturday to help freshman Laremy Tunsil, while Burton had "one of his most gutsy performances" in Austin. …Safety Trae Elston (ankle) is in a walking boot this week but should be ready for the game at Alabama. …Wide receivers Vince Sanders (collarbone) and Korvic Neat (knee) are expected to return to the lineup in Tuscaloosa. …Defensive tackle Carlton Martin suffered a hamstring injury at Texas but he is expected back for Alabama. …Freeze said Ole Miss will move freshman safety Derrick Jones to cornerback this week to evaluate his skill at that position. The Rebels, Freeze said, believe the 6-foot-3 Jones could be "a very, very good big corner."

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