By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Playing one of the later bowl games of the season meant a later start to workout for Ole Miss. But the extra time means first-year coach Hugh Freeze can take a closer look at some of his younger players heading into next season.
Ole Miss takes on Pittsburgh at noon on Jan. 5 in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
It’s Pitt’s third-straight appearance in the Compass Bowl. Ole Miss will play in its first bowl game since the Cotton Bowl following the 2009 season.
Both teams are 6-6.
Freeze said he is “excited for our fans, our young men, but especially our seniors to get to go out and experience 60 more minutes of football this year.”
That excitement extends to his chance to look at young players – or players who have yet to develop significant roles – over the next couple of weeks of practice.
The first name mentioned by Freeze in discussing personnel was junior defensive end Carlos Thompson.
There was a lot of buzz for Thompson – who Freeze redshirted this year as a junior – when he was signed out of Hollandale. Websites Rivals and Scout both ranked him the No. 4 player in Mississippi and among their top 175 players nation-wide.
Former coach Houston Nutt’s staff tried to get more weight on Thompson’s 6-4 frame. He’s currently listed at 243 pounds.
Freeze singled out Temario Strong, Robert Conyers and many other freshmen as well. Bowl practice is often described by coaches as a miniature spring training.
“All those guys need more reps,” Freeze said. “We can get in where we’re not necessarily game-planning as much and just work on us.”
The Rebels will be on the practice field today and three more times this week before taking a week off for Christmas.
They will reconvene Dec. 27 for an evening workout and will practice through Jan. 1 in Oxford. Two practices are scheduled in Birmingham at Birmingham Southern College.
Practices are open this week to the general public and being at 10:30 a.m. each day.