Rebels using bye week to rest, get extensive look at youngsters

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, November 12, 2015

For the first time in 11 weeks, Ole Miss is not preparing for a game.

After 10 straight games, the Rebels are the last team in Southeastern Conference to have a weekend off. They are using it to prepare for the future.

Wednesday’s practice was spent with the redshirt and scout team members scrimmaging each other.

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“It was a domination by the offensive unit,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “They had some fun for sure. We probably worked the defensive scouts a little harder in the tempo stuff, but it was fun to get to see everybody play around for sure.”

Having practiced and played games non-stop since August, Freeze approached this bye week a little differently than open dates in years past. The Rebels essentially had two practices this week with time off before resuming regular game week activities again Sunday.

The scrimmage was primarily for the “enjoyment of competing,” according to Freeze, as opposed to any specific evaluation of younger players.

“Both days this week we’ve been able to do a lot of (individual work), and you get everybody in that,” Freeze said. “In the one-on-ones, I thought Jalen Julius stood out at corner. I think he’s going to be a really good player. (Wednesday) in that scrimmage, (DeMarkus Lodge) and Van Jefferson, we know that they’re talented.”

Freeze noted that offensive lineman Alex Givens impressed him and is going to be an immediate factor when he moves up next season.

“We’re really excited about him,” Freeze said of Givens. “He’s a great kid, going to play hard. He’s got a nasty streak in him. His body’s changing and another year with (strength and conditioning coach Paul) Jackson and I think he’ll fit in nicely with the guys we have coming back.”

When it comes to recruiting up front offensively, Freeze said he hopes to get “five or six” guys signed next year.

Getting a head start
Without a game this week, the routine is not as normal as it usually is, but that is not stopping defensive coordinator Dave Wommack from looking at film of the Rebels’ next opponent in LSU.

After Saturday’s performance against Arkansas, getting a jumpstart on the game plan is not such a bad idea for a defensive unit that kept Wommack up Saturday night.

“I just rolled around through the night and didn’t sleep,” Wommack said. “I came in and watched (game film) the next morning and wasn’t any prettier the second time.”

Any defense’s plan against the Tigers starts with running back Leonard Fournette, and Wommack knows that.

“He’s special and unique,” Wommack said of Fournette.

Buford impressing
After making a splash earlier in the season, former Lafayette standout D.K. Buford continues to catch the eyes of the coaches.

Buford was one of the players who had a solid scrimmage Wednesday and has impressed Freeze on a weekly basis.