Rebels trying to stay simple with late kick

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hugh Freeze can’t speak for every college football coach, but if Ole Miss’ coach had his way, he’d rather his team not be one of the last ones to finish its game each Saturday.

But No. 15 Ole Miss and No. 2 Alabama will have to wait around all day before their much-anticipated matchup kicks off at 8:15 Saturday night from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. With TV timeouts included — ESPN is airing the game — it isn’t likely to end before midnight, which can be even more taxing for the team that still has to make the trip back home afterward.

“It’s not your preference as a coach or a player,” Freeze said. “You’d like to get up, get going, play and get back home because it’s a difficult transition to the next week, particularly when you’re on the road busing back. That’s difficult on everybody.”

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Coaches also run the risk of overdoing their preparation when they’ve got more time to kill on game day than usual. Freeze said he’ll try to keep his distance from his players Saturday after film review and a quick walk-through in the morning “because I can talk myself into thinking we’re not concentrating enough, and they probably need to be away from me a good part of that day.”

Ole Miss will try to keep things as normal as possible with the shift of the final walk-through from Friday to Saturday being the only change in the Rebels’ routine this week.

“We try to change up our meeting schedule a little bit and have walk-throughs and try help fill up their day so they’re not just sitting around in the hotel waiting all day to play,” running backs coach Derrick Nix said.

Freeze may not be a fan of the late kickoffs, but with the revenue the school makes in contracts with TV networks, he knows it comes with the territory.

“It is difficult, but we appreciate our TV sponsors and our partnerships we have with all of those,” he said. “That’s part of it.”

‘Much better’ day
Freeze said the energy level and focus at Wednesday’s practice was “much better” than Tuesday from everybody involved.

“Coaches, too,” Freeze said. “Me, too. I wasn’t at my best (Tuesday).”

Tuesday was a major installation day as the Rebels worked on new plays at warp speed. Music is also being piped in to help Ole Miss prepare for the crowd noise players will deal with in Tuscaloosa, making for what Nix called a “typical Tuesday.”

“I don’t know if we were down down, but a part of the execution was making them just a little off just because of new plays getting installed,” Nix said.

Relatively healthy
Freeze said Wednesday there aren’t any injury concerns other than Robert Conyers, who’s been getting treatment on his sprained knee and will play Saturday. Freeze didn’t specify if the junior offensive lineman would play at center or tackle or both.

“We’ll play the best o-linemen,” Freeze said.