Rebels target improvement in open week

Michael Thomas | Associated Press Jeff Scott of Ole Miss runs for a touchdown against Texas on a punt return during the third quarter Saturday.

Michael Thomas | Associated Press
Jeff Scott of Ole Miss runs for a touchdown against Texas on a punt return during the third quarter Saturday.

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze faces the No. 1 team in the nation in less than two weeks, but that’s not his focus.

The Rebels moved up to No. 21 in the AP Top 25 after a 44-23 win at Texas. At his Monday press conference Freeze said the first order of business for this week’s open date is to improve the Rebels, who are off to their first 3-0 start in 24 years.

“We want to figure out what we’re doing well, what we’re not doing well and what our tendencies are,” said Freeze, who added that his staff is also breaking down video on an unnamed up-tempo offense team. The goal is to help Ole Miss run its tempo offense faster and more often.

Alabama will begin to be introduced into the preparation on Wednesday.

Through three games, the Rebels are fourth in the SEC in total offense, fifth in scoring offense. They’re on a five-game winning streak.

They’ve been successful in spite of a rash of August injuries, something Freeze is hopeful the open date will help.

Senior offensive tackles Pierce Burton (ankle) and Emmanuel McCray (back) will be held out of work this week.

Freeze described Burton’s effort as “gutsy” for his play against Texas. McCray was used for about 10 plays, which required freshman Laremy Tunsil to start and play 70-plus plays.

The Texas result gave Ole Miss a fast start to a three-game road trip that includes Alabama and Auburn after the open date.

“We need everyone who is able and is eligible to play to be ready to go for these games,” Freeze said.

The close inward look is not unusual for Freeze. He has graduate assistants scouting Ole Miss on a weekly basis.

“During the open week, they’ll combine the three games we’ve played to this point to give me an update on exactly where we are with our personnel and formations,” Freeze said. “We do it every game. We probably don’t study it as hard as we should until the open weeks.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com