OXFORD, Miss. — It is Alabama week, Rebel fans! As we all go about our regular daily lives this week, the Ole Miss football team is prepping to welcome the No. 1 college football team in the country to Oxford, Mississippi this Saturday.
Although it seems to be business as usual at practice, one can definitely feel a “vibe” around Oxford as excitement builds in the Ole Miss community for the annual matchup with head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
In Tuesday’s post-practice media session, senior OL Javon Patterson, junior RB Scottie Phillips, and junior DT Josiah Coatney, commented on the Alabama team, with each player noting the impressive talent on the roster in Tuscaloosa.
Here’s what Coatney had to say about the Rebels’ opponent this Saturday as well as his team’s preparations this week.
Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. also met with the media after practice and echoed the comments of his players. When asked what makes Alabama such a tough opponent, Coach Bicknell explained:
“First of all, talent. There’s no question they have unbelievable talent. And then, coaching. Coaching is not always about schemes and fancy things; these guys are just so well coached. When you look at them, they know exactly where they’re going; they play with their eyes.”
Ole Miss offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr.
Even though tremendous hype surrounds their opponent, the Rebels are practicing like it is any other week on the schedule. The main thing we noticed Tuesday, however, is the attention to detail—an increased focus on the small, seemingly mundane things that can be difference-makers in a game.
After practice, Coatney noted what the Rebels must do in order to be successful Saturday.
“Just got to be honest and know what plays we have to execute and execute those plays,” he said. “And be disciplined.That’s just the things we have to do to beat Bama.”
One key player making his return to the field this Saturday against the Tide will be outside linebacker Kevontae’ Ruggs, who practiced in full pads with the first team defense Tuesday after missing most of game one against Texas Tech and all of game two with a concussion.
When asked what Ruggs brings to the Landshark defense, Coatney described his teammate’s tenacity.
“Just flying to the ball. You know, he never wants to quit, never backs down from a challenge, never slows down for anybody so that’s a great thing to have at linebacker.”
Josiah Coatney on Kevontae’ Ruggs
Defensive end Tariqious Tisdale was not in pads Tuesday; however, he expressed hope he would soon get back on the field. Tisdale is in concussion protocol following last Saturday’s game with Southern Illinois.
Offensively, DaMarkus Lodge has been released from the concussion protocol and was in full pads, taking snaps with the offense in Tuesday’s practice.
Run, Scottie, Run!
The Rebels look to continue their offensive prowess this weekend versus Alabama. Running back Scottie Phillips continues to be a huge part of what has so far been an explosive offense. He addressed the media after practice and was quick to praise his offensive line. “They’re going to continue to pave the way for me,” he said.
Phillips does understand the challenge he will face, come Saturday.
“They’ve been a top 10 team for the past couple years, and they’re always good. I’ve been preparing well, and I’ll be ready for them Saturday.”
RB Scottie Phillips
In the first two games of 2018, Phillips has rushed for a staggering 311 yards, good enough for first place in the SEC in total rushing yards and fourth in the nation. He has averaged an impressive 10 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns. Phillips will be an important part of the Rebels’ attack this weekend against the Crimson Tide. Overall, the feeling halfway into Alabama week in Oxford appears to be one of focus and attention to detail all around the field.
The Rebels host the Tide this Saturday, September 15, at 6:00 p.m. (CT), and the matchup will be televised on ESPN.