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Freeze shuffles the defense

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze spoke with the media on Monday afternoon about the Rebels’ upcoming trip to Tulane this weekend. Freeze announced safeties Charles Sawyer and Quintavius Burdette will move to corner this week and freshman Trae Elston is likely to start at safety.
Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 
With the Texas game behind them, Ole Miss and head coach Hugh Freeze have turned their attention to Saturday’s upcoming game against Tulane — which will be Freeze’s first road contest at the helm. 
 
“I actually love (going on the road),” Freeze said. “There’s something about coming off a disappointing loss where I like going on the road. I think you kind of get off to yourself with your team, and you enjoy the process of getting ready to play another game and trying to get this bitter taste out of your mouth.”
 
The Green Wave will enter Saturday’s game at 0-2 on the season after losses to Rutgers and Tulsa, but the unknown of first-year head coach Curtis Johnson and his schemes will make preparing for Tulane a little tougher. 
 
“Well, it’s really two different teams,” Freeze said. “We’ve seen them two games. I really don’t pay attention to last year because it is a totally new coaching staff. You watch the Rutgers game, and I’m very impressed with them, particularly defensively. They held Rutgers to 150 yards rushing, and you can tell he’s very comfortable facing that type of offense.”
 
Overall, Tulane held Rutgers to just 309 total yards in a season-opening 24-12 loss.
 
The game against Tulsa two weeks ago went differently, but extenuating circumstances make that game hard to evaluate, according to Freeze. 
 
“They got up to Tulsa and experienced a little adversity with some of the things Tulsa did, which was a little different than what they had faced in week one,” Freeze said. “And then had that terrible incident with (Devon Walker) getting injured and their quarterback got hurt also, so that kind of changed the dynamics of that game.
 
“So, we’ll have to be prepared for what we’ve seen from them thus far, but defensively, I’m real impressed with their scheme and their aggressiveness.”
 
In particular, Freeze singled out Tulane’s junior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley as a player to watch out for, saying “he could play for anyone.”
 
Secondary shakeup
 
After Ole Miss allowed Texas quarterback David Ash to throw for 326 yards and four touchdowns on 19-of-23 passing, Freeze announced Monday some changes in the secondary to try and boost the unit as a whole. 
 
Junior safety Charles Sawyer and freshman safety Quintavius Burdette have been shifted over to cornerback. A former corner, Sawyer hasn’t looked comfortable at the safety spot, according to Freeze. 
 
“He’s a little tentative at safety,” Freeze said. “You can tell it just wasn’t his natural deal; fitting the run fits and things. It just wasn’t something that came natural to him, and he gives us a longer corner with a little more experience.”
 
Sawyer’s move over to corner, along with Burdette, will allow the Rebels to decrease the number of snaps for the other cornerbacks.
 
At safety, freshman Trae Elston returns from a one-week suspension and will immediately step into a larger role.  “Trae, if everything goes like we think it will this week, will start for us at safety,” Freeze said. 
 
Senior Ivan Nicholas, who missed the past two games, also returns from an injury and will be in the safety rotation with Elston, sophomore Cody Prewitt and redshirt freshman Chief Brown.  
 
Ole Miss-Alabama kickoff set for 8:15 p.m.
 
Kickoff for next Saturday’s game against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa has been set for 8:15 p.m. CT, the Southeastern Conference announced Monday. 
 
The game will be televised by either ESPN or ESPN2. The network will be chosen after games of Sept. 22, and the game time will not change. 
 
Ole Miss Sports Information contributed to this report.
 
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