Meridian Star

Sports

August 3, 2013

Wallace feels healthy as camp opens

(Continued)

OXFORD —      "He's still a little rusty, obviously, because it's the first time he's seen action since the bowl game," Werner said. "But his arm looks live. He's throwing better now than he was at the end of last season."

      The only real question now is if Wallace can take a hit. He proved to be a surprisingly adept runner in 2012, gaining 390 yards and scoring eight touchdowns.

But the Rebels aren't going to test that shoulder with any big hits during preseason practice. That will come during the team's opener against Vanderbilt on Aug. 29 in Nashville.

     "I'm excited for the first hit I take," Wallace said. "That way I can finally take the monkey off my back and say, 'Let's go. The shoulder's good.'"

      Wallace isn't the only important player nursing a previous injury. Three defensive starters, including defensive end C.J. Johnson, cornerback Charles Sawyer and defensive tackle Issac       Gross missed Friday's practice, though Freeze hopes all of them will be ready by the season opener.

     Ole Miss returns eight offensive starters and all 11 defensive starters.

     The team's youth and success under Freeze's high-tempo offense — coupled with a highly-regarded recruiting class — have caused Ole Miss to become a trendy pick to contend in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division.

     It should be apparent by mid-October if that's a realistic goal. The Rebels face a brutal stretch during the season's first seven games, which includes games against Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M and LSU.

     "It's a difficult stretch for sure," Freeze said. "We could be a better football team but it not be reflected in the record at that point. We've got to handle all of our issues — and one of those is a difficult schedule to begin the year. But it's not something we talk a lot around here. Let's just prepare for us."

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