By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Hugh Freeze says he has a “laundry list” of injuries as Ole Miss gets for the Music City Bowl against Georgia Tech.
He’s glad he has Charles Sawyer to help with the cleaning.
Freeze called a number of players questionable – including offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and safety Cody Prewitt – and the status for some won’t be known until the team is in Nashville.
That’s not the case for Sawyer. Through a number of injuries, mostly shoulder and ankle, and an early-season arrest, the senior defensive back has appeared in only six games this season.
His presence gives Freeze some options in the secondary.
“We will play Mike Hilton some at safety with Charles back. Hilton can help us some there. He’s a good tackler. It’s good to have Charles back,” Freeze said.
Tunsil, with a sprained MCL, did not work on Monday and spent the afternoon running in the pool.
With several players at less than full strength Freeze said he’s running practices a little more physical than he would because of the unusualness of the option offense.
“We’ve got to get after it. That’s the only way I know to get us better and make the most out of these practices. There are risks associated with that, but it’s what we need to do particularly when you’re playing a team like this. We’ve got to get ready for the cuts and everything we’re going to face,” he said.
Sawyer hasn’t played since the Idaho game in Week 8.
He said he felt some degree of fatigue during workouts last Friday and Saturday. Monday’s practice was the first open for media view.
“The mental state of it … my mind’s still there,” he said. “Today and yesterday went real well.”
The Rebels will practice through Friday in Oxford and will then break for Christmas. They’ll report to Nashville on Dec. 26.
Monday’s work included a longer than normal tackling drill with emphasis on shedding blocks from Georgia Tech skill players who are expected to take on defenders below the waist on the perimeter.
“You’ve got to be real disciplined with your eyes,” Sawyer said. “They like to cut on the perimeter. That’s why we’ve done cut drills for 10-15 minutes a day to prep us for it.”