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November 19, 2013

Notes: Rebels aware of Mizzou pass rush

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze meets with reporters following Tuesday's practice in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Bo Wallace threw for 274 yards against Troy and diced the Trojans for three scores.

However, he admits he'll need to be much better this week against No. 8 Missouri. He'll have to be quicker, too.

The Tigers boast the Southeastern Conference's best pass rush with 34 sacks this season. They also have helped their secondary secure an SEC-best 17 interceptions.

The takeaways have been a big reason why Missouri is 9-1 and controls its own destiny for the SEC East title.

"I have to be more crisp than I was last week, I have to be quicker with my reads," Wallace said. "I was kind of sloppy. I put up numbers, but I wasn't proud of what I did. I have to be ready this week and be ready to go."

Senior tackle Pierce Burton has watched the Tigers and thinks their schemes are a reason for the gaudy stats. It's something he hasn't seen much in the league this season.

"They do a lot of movement, which is going to be a unique challenge for us," Burton said. "It's not like I'm blocking the defensive end every time. The defensive end is going to be slanting and running twists. They're going to run run-game twists on first down and we haven't seen that all year. SEMO did it but that's a real unique thing to see run-game twists."

The top Tiger on defense is defensive end Michael Sam, who usually lines up over the right tackle. Sam has 10 sacks this season, the best in the SEC.

"He looks real strong and he does a lot of good things when they do move," Burton said. "He gave a lot of guys trouble when he slants into the open D gap. They do a lot of slanting to the underside of the field to the middle side the (defensive) end does."

"You have to have great technique going against great players. I always play hard and I play with extreme effort but I have to have more attention to detail with my technique to be successful against these kinds of athletes."

Ole Miss is seventh in the SEC with eight interceptions, but Wallace has thrown just five of those. He's fourth in the league in passing per game and has drastically improved his ball security from last year's 17 interceptions.

Keeping Wallace upright will be goal one for the Rebels on Saturday.

"They're very talented," lineman Emmanuel McCray said. "They're slated as one of the best in the SEC. I think they play pretty hard. They all have really good motors. It's not just about athletic ability. There's no one out there like Jadeveon Clowney or anything, but they play very well as a unit and they play really hard."

Ole Miss offensive tackle Pierce Burton meets with reporters Monday in the Manning Center.

TIGERS' SECONDARY AN ACHILLES HEEL?: Missouri makes the trip to Oxford Saturday ranked No. 14 in the SEC in passing defense, allowing 274.9 yards per game through the air. Ole Miss, meanwhile, is third in the SEC in passing offense, averaging 297.4 yards per game. Only Texas A&M and Georgia get more done through the air among SEC teams.

So, can the Tigers' secondary be picked apart?

"They are so well-coached that they are in the right spots and the are more of a zone team than a man team," Freeze said. "They're in the right spot and break on the football extremely well. They mix coverages up. They do a good job of disguising and confusing you a bit. They're athletic back there just like they are on the front. I think it comes back to stopping the run, therefore the opportunities presented to them are much greater than some other defenses we've played recently."

TREADWELL CONTINUES TO WOW: Fellow freshmen Laremy Tunsil and Robert Nkemdiche have earned league accolades the past couple of weeks, but wide receiver Laquon Treadwell continues to impress.

Treadwell has caught 53 passes for 477 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. Freeze admitted Monday the University Park, Ill., product, ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 5 prospect in the nation a year ago, has done better than he would've imagined.

"I think all the freshmen have exceeded my expectations particularly, not so much in physical play, but in their makeup of having no egos and wanting to be a team guy," Freeze said. "A lot of times with the way recruiting is designed now with the ego inflation we get from everybody that's involved in recruiting process you always worry about those kids. Without exception those guys want to be coached and want to be better at their craft and Laquon is certainly just like that. In our system a guy of his talent is going to have success. I've been really pleased with how he prepares himself and handles himself."

SAWYER DOUBTFUL: Ole Miss cornerback Charles Sawyer did not practice Tuesday and has been downgraded to doubtful for Saturday's game. Sawyer has not played since the Rebels' Oct. 19 win over LSU.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with reporters following Tuesday's practice in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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