• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Business as usual

As Saturday’s huge matchup between Ole Miss and Texas of the Big 12 quickly approaches, Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze and his squad are getting themselves ready for an electric environment inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. However, Freeze knows the most important thing is for Ole Miss to only focus on what they can control.
Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 
When the Ole Miss Rebels take on No. 14 Texas in Saturday's ESPN primetime game, there will be a capacity crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that will be ready to witness one of the most hyped games Ole Miss has seen in the last couple of years.
 
The buzz around campus with still some time before game day is a first for head coach Hugh Freeze since taking over the reins of the Ole Miss football program. However, he is making sure that this game week is being treated like any other. 
 
“We’ll not change a single thing," Freeze said. "We’ll approach it the same exact way that I approached games when I was at Lambuth or at other conferences or even in high school. We’ll treat it the same way; hopefully, won’t notice a different in anything that we do. 
 
“Saturday night, obviously, I think it’ll be a little more excitement around. Our young kids will have to handle that emotionally and mentally, but we won’t treat our preparation any different.”
 
Doing so is important for the Rebels due to the extreme amount of youth that will be under the lights Saturday night for Ole Miss. 
 
“You’re facing one of the nations best,” Freeze said. “It’s going to be a great environment, I know, and our kids will hopefully be very excited and our young kids hopefully will show up not too anxious.”
 
Looking at Texas
 
The Longhorns enter at 2-0 on the season with wins against Wyoming and New Mexico. 
 
So far, the amount of speed on the field for Texas is what has Freeze’s attention early on. 
 
“Super talented team speed-wise; every position runs extremely well," Freeze said. "That’s the most glaring thing when you watch the film. You see the closing speed that they have defensively and the breakaway speed they have offensively.”
 
On offense, Texas is 31st in the country in yards per play, and Freeze says that the multitude of sets the Longhorns run will be tough to prepare for. 
 
"Offensively, as many formations you can imagine, they have them,” Freeze said. They try to outflank you through motions and shifts and they do a good job with that.”
 
Offensive line shows improvement
 
One of the units Freeze was looking for improvement from against UTEP was the offensive line, and after viewing the tape, he says the line “got better”.
 
“(I) thought Aaron Morris improved tremendously," Freeze said. "Physically, he’s a guy that we’ve got to have play well and he definitely improved from week one to week two a lot. Pierce (Burton) was real solid, as was AJ  (Hawkins). Emmanuel (McCray) played hard and Evan (Swindall) improved some.”
 
The Ole Miss line will face its biggest test of the season when it goes up against defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. The duo has combined for twenty tackles, two sacks and three and a half tackles for loss so far this year. 
 
Depth, as always, is an issue for Freeze heading into the game. 
 
“We’re still who we are and we’re still thin and they (the offensive line) played too many snaps probably,” said Freeze. “They definitely got better, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”
 
Hawkins receives honor weekly honor
 
 
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After helping Ole Miss to a 28-10 win over UTEP, senior A.J. Hawkins received Southeastern Conference Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week honors by the league office on Monday. 

Starting at right guard, Hawkins helped the Ole Miss offense rack up 538 total yards, including 330 on the ground, against the Miners. Ole Miss rushed for more than 300 yards for the first time since rolling up 425 yards on the ground against Fresno State in 2010. 

The Lithonia, Ga., native made his 18th career start and second at right guard after playing center and left guard his first three seasons. 

He has helped Ole Miss lead the SEC in total offense and rushing offense and eclipse 500 total yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. 

Hawkins earns an SEC weekly award for the first time in his career and is the second Rebel to be honored this year, following last week's selection of C.J. Johnson as Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week.
 
Ole Miss Sports Information contributed to this report

 

For continuing coverage of Ole Miss football, follow @thedm_sports and @bennetthipp on Twitter.