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December 16, 2013

Notes: Sawyer gets back in time for encore

OXFORD, Miss. -- Charles Sawyer's senior season has gone nothing remotely close to the way he planned it.

Sawyer has played in just six games and started just two. He's recorded just 10 tackles and only one interception.

Injuries forced him to miss the final month of the season, and he could only watch helplessly while his teammates suffered regular-season ending losses to Missouri and at Mississippi State.

"I can't even explain it," Sawyer said Monday. "It's so frustrating. At the same time, I had to keep myself up. I told myself I was going to get better and help my team. I'm thankful to get back and play in this great bowl game."

Ole Miss (7-5) will meet Georgia Tech (7-5) in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 30. It appears Sawyer will get plenty of playing time. Sawyer worked at cornerback Monday when the Rebels worked out inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and reported afterwards he's as healthy as he's been all season "as of today."

Sawyer said it was "real important" he be able to get back on the field one last time before his Ole Miss career ends.

"You always want to go out with a bang and finish your season with a win," Sawyer said. "I want to help the young guys. That's the foundation and it starts with winning a bowl game."

"I'm real happy for him," Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. "I just want him to finish his career here playing and giving it all for this university he cares a lot about. And he'll help us."

MARRY HAPPY TO HAVE ALFORD: Senior linebacker Mike Marry recognizes that the triple option is tough to prepare for no matter what, but the Rebels' scout team quarterback accelerates the learning for the Ole Miss defense.

Anthony Alford, who played quarterback for Southern Miss as a true freshman, is handling the scout team duties this season while sitting out due to NCAA transfer eligibility rules. He's expected to be in the rotation at safety next season, but for now he's simulating Georgia Tech sophomore quarterback Vad Lee.

Alford appeared in nine games for the Golden Eagles in 2012 and contributed with 993 yards of total offense.

"He's good at everything," Marry said of Alford. "He's good at running it. He's been doing that the whole season. I'm glad we have a guy like that on our scout team helping us.

"They are giving us a great look everyday, working on cut blocks and crack blocks and giving us the best look they can going into the game. It's all about us being disciplined and being where we're coached to be."

Marry said he's planning to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl with Charles Sawyer on Jan. 18 in Carson, Calif. Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green are the two head coaches.

LONG INJURY REPORT FOR REBELS: Freeze said Monday his team has a "laundry list of injuries a mile long" entering the Music City Bowl. Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) is questionable, as are defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton (stress fracture) and safety Cody Prewitt. Offensive guard Austin Golson (labrum) is out after having surgery and Freeze is hopeful the freshman is back for the spring. Veteran offensive lineman Chase Hughes is also out after having surgery. Tight end Evan Engram, who was injured against LSU and has not played since, could return against Georgia Tech, though a determination won't be made until Dec. 28. "That would help," Freeze said.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze addresses reporters following his team's practice Monday afternoon inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack meets with reporters Monday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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