NOTEBOOK: Conner out at least 4 weeks with knee injury
Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Once the dust had settled after the Rebels’ 43-37 win over then-No.2-ranked Alabama on Saturday night, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze took stock of everything and assessed the damage after their battle at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Turns out it was a costly victory.
Freeze said during his weekly press conference Monday that defensive back Tony Conner would be out of action for a minimum of four weeks due to a meniscus tear in his knee. Surgery was scheduled for today.
Tony Bridges was listed as questionable by Freeze for Saturday’s game.
“We are beaten up a bit, and that is something you are concerned about,” Freeze said. “Hopefully you have your best players to put your best foot forward, and you don’t always have that in this game. One of the things I despise most about this game is young men that put so much effort into preparing, and you get bad news that they are injured. That is something that every team has to go through, but we have to handle it.”
With Conner out for the foreseeable future, it causes a shift in the Rebels’ secondary. A.J. Moore and true freshman Zedrick Woods are the top candidates to play the Huskie position with Chief Brown getting time there as well.
OL takes hit
The defensive side of the ball was not the only unit to deal with injuries. An already depleted offensive line, that is already missing left tackle Laremy Tunsil, could be without other starters this Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Justin Bell and Robert Conyers were banged up in the win at Alabama. Freeze said they are “questionable” for Saturday.
The shakeup at the offensive line could be so drastic if more injuries occur that freshman guard Javon Patterson could see snaps at center this week while tight end Jeremy Liggins could see action at the tackle position to add depth. Rod Taylor and Jordan Sims will rotate at right guard, Freeze said, if Bell cannot go this weekend.
“We finished the last two quarters with two freshmen on the offensive line, which was a huge task against (the Alabama) front,” Freeze said. “They held their own at times, got beat some. I think you’re going to get beat some when you play that caliber of competition. But I was really proud of the way they fought.”
Nkemdiche, Wunderlich honored
After the win in Tucsaloosa Saturday, the Southeastern Conference office rewarded two Rebels for their performance.
Defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week while kicker Gary Wunderlich earned Special Teams Player of the Week.
Nkemdiche was a force to be reckoned with for the Alabama offense. He was frequently in the Crimson Tide’s backfield disrupting plays. He finished the night with six tackles, including 2.5 of them for a loss. Nkemdiche also accounted for half a sack.
“I think it was his best game since he’s been here,” Freeze said of Nkemdiche. “Very few people could have played a number of snaps he did with the production he did. He’s just kind of a freak of an athlete.”
Wunderlich was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, converting from 32, 34 and 45 yards. The Memphis native is a perfect 4-for-4 in field goals and has made all 21 point-after attempts.