By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has not announced a change in status for cornerback Charles Sawyer.
If the senior and 2012 starter does not play, Rebels fans should not expect much difference in the way of personnel at the position for this week’s game at Texas.
But Freeze said he may not be finished shuffling players in his secondary.
“We have a couple more moves we’re considering making, but it would probably be after the open week before you see much of that,” he said. “It’s going to take a little time to get people comfortable to where we can go in and call our defense and allow people to play.”
The Rebels have given up big plays in the passing game in each of their first two games. Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels passed for 300 yards while making his first SEC start, leaning heavily on All-SEC receiver Jordan Matthews, who averaged 17.8 yards on 10 catches.
Last week Southeast Missouri State scored on touchdown passes of 14 and 16 yards.
Senquez Golson and Mike Hilton remain the starting corners on this week’s depth chart. Hilton just last week moved to corner from Huskie, the hybrid safety position that plays mostly near the line of scrimmage.
Many Ole Miss players and coaches have pointed to last year’s Texas game as a turning point in the Rebels’ season, where lessons learned began to be applied.
Ole Miss scored 31 points but gave up 66 while allowing 676 yards.
“All throughout the spring before and all fall camp we’d struggled with our guys reading their keys. I call it putting the eyes in the right place,” defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. “Our guys really did a poor job, we did a poor job of getting them to do that, if you will, and they just totally embarrassed us. We had guys that were taking the dives that were supposed to be out on speed sweeps and that type of thing.”
This year Texas enters the game having given up 679 yards in losing to BYU 40-21 on Saturday night in Provo.
Last year’s lessons for Ole Miss were not limited to defense.
Quarterback Bo Wallace was 13-for-24 passing with a touchdown but also three interceptions.
“For me it was overwhelming, my first game against a big-time college football team. I’ve played in big games now,” he said.
Ole Miss is back in the rankings this week for the first time under Hugh Freeze and the first time since the final polls for the 2009 season.
The Rebels found out Sunday they were ranked No. 25 in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today coaches poll.
“That’s huge for us, and huge for Rebel Nation. We’ve worked for it, we earned it, but we’re not satisfied at all. We want to continue to week after week go out, play hard and win games,” running back Jeff Scott said.