A few odds and ends …
Ole Miss is about to begin its third bowl practice, the first open to the media. We met with Hugh Freeze earlier today around the bowl announcement presser.
– Freeze confirmed a couple of injury items, the biggest that left guard Aaron Morris has a new tear, albeit it a slight one, in the same ACL he tore in the 2013 season opener at Vanderbilt. Morris will have surgery tomorrow and will miss the Peach Bowl. Freeze is hopeful that Morris will be ready to go for the 2015 season. Justin Bell will move to left guard, and freshman Rod Taylor will start at right guard in the Peach Bowl.
Also, Vince Sanders sustained a torn ACL on the hit out of bounds against MSU which effectively ends the college career – likely the entire career – for the Macon senior. Sanders is a fiery competitor and a hard worker but just isn’t very big.
– Freeze confirmed reports today that linebackers coach Tom Allen has accepted the defensive coordinator position at South Florida.
It’s unclear whether Allen will coach the bowl game with Ole Miss.
Freeze said he hopes to fill the position soon after the start of the new year.
– Freeze said the only thing he asked for in recent contract negotiations was more money for his assistants.
The school honored that request with a 25 percent increase.
Freeze will make $4.3 million for 2015 with built-in $100,000 pay raises for succeeding years.
“Again, we said months before all the talk started that Ross was working on it. I’ve never had to go to Ross in any of the years. He’s always been pro-active. I appreciate so much the way he and chancellor Jones handle things. I never get to be in it, and I like it that way. I’m honored that Ole Miss has confidence in what we’re doing here. I love what I do, I love where I do it at, and I love the people I’m doing it with. I’m very thrilled that we can move on from that,” Freeze said.
– Freeze said he had not seen a final academics report but at present expects no player to miss the game because of grades.
Bowl practice typically offers the chance to focus on younger players and reserves, and Freeze is doing that with a best-of-seven “series” with third-teamers and others who played little or not at all this season.
The series pits offense against defense and was tied at 1 before Monday’s workout.
The similarity in style between TCU’s offense and Ole Miss’ allows for more time for the Rebels’ top units to face each other in practice.
“We’re able to get in about 16 plays of good-on-good each day,” he said.
The most important thing about early workouts is to set a standard of intensity.
“We’ve gotten after it pretty good, trying to set a tone that we want to be in the nation’s elite. Being in this bowl is a step in the right direction, going and competing in it, having a chance to win it late in the game … that’s the next step.”