BLOG — Ole Miss will finish the 2013 season against Georgia Tech later this month in the same city it began the year with a thrilling victory over Vanderbilt.
But playing the Commodores and the Yellow Jackets in Nashville, Tenn., is where the comparisons between the two opponents stop.
When Ole Miss (7-5) tangles with Georgia Tech (7-5) in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 30, the Rebels will get an up-close look at the triple-option offense, which Georgia Tech runs fluently under sixth-year coach Paul Johnson.
Ole Miss is three practices into its preparation for one of college football’s most unique offenses, trying its best to give its defense as similar a look as it can with the players it has on the scout team, which is using transfer Anthony Alford to emulate Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze admitted it will be nearly impossible to imitate the precision and speed with which Georgia Tech executes its offense, which ranks sixth in the country in rushing, but so far, he’s been pleased with the looks the scout team is giving the defense.
“Anthony Alford is an athletic guy that can give you a look,” Freeze said following Monday’s practice inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. “We probably don’t simulate their motions and how quick (they are). We’ll have to adjust to that when the game starts, the speed of it. But I think our guys are doing an adequate job.”
Despite a lengthy list of injuries, Ole Miss isn’t backing off the physicality in its preparation. The only way for the Rebels’ defense to get a good idea of what’s coming, Freeze said, is to go full speed using full contact.
“Obviously we’ve got a laundry list of injuries a mile long, but we’ve still got to get after it,” Freeze said. “It’s the only way I know to get us better and to make the most out of these practices. There’s risk associated with that, but I think it’s what we have to do, particularly when you play a team like this.”
Senior CB Charles Sawyer and senior RB Jeff Scott, who both missed the Egg Bowl, are back at practice. Freeze also said freshman TE Evan Engram, who’s missed the last six games after undergoing ankle surgery, could return for the bowl game.
“Doctors feel like there’s a chance,” Freeze said. “We’ll know on the 28th when we get there. That would help us some if he could (go).”
Freshman OL Austin Golson had surgery to repair a torn labrum and will miss the bowl game as will fellow OL Chase Hughes. Freshman LT Laremy Tunsil (knee), S Cody Prewitt (undisclosed) and DT Woodrow Hamilton (stress fracture) are questionable, Freeze said. WR Vince Sanders hurt his right ankle during Monday’s practice after an offensive lineman rolled up on him, but he eventually returned. Freeze said he should be fine.
Below is a clip from Freeze’s post-practice meeting with the media Monday.
See Tuesday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage of Monday’s practice. (December 17, 2013)