OLE MISS SHARPENS FOCUS WITH AT&T COTTON BOWL NEARINGThe No. 20 Ole Miss Rebels honed in on their New Year’s opponent, the No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders, in their fourth Dallas workout on the practice fields adjacent to SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Under mild, sunny conditions, Ole Miss sharpened its preparation for the high-powered Texas Tech offense with a high-energy, two-hour practice in pads and shorts with no injuries to report. The Rebels spent a good portion of practice with its first-team defense working against their scout team, disguised as the Red Raider offense, while also concentrating on aspects of their offensive and special team game plans.
“It was good (practice today) – good concentration, getting closer and they know it,” said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. “Now we’ll come through it again tomorrow with another good concentration day. We’re going to take off the pads and get ready for the ball game.”
While much of the attention for the 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic has been on the Texas Tech offense led by Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner Graham Harrell and two-time Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree, it may be the Ole Miss offense that becomes the prevailing headline in this SEC-Big 12 matchup. Sophomore QB Jevan Snead has led the Rebels’ offensive turnaround from second to last in the SEC a year ago to the conference’s third-best offense at 389.7 yards per game this season. He ranks second in the SEC in touchdowns (23) and third in both passing yardage (205.8 ypg) and passing efficiency (142.7).
“Jevan Snead has been a very, very good student (and) a great listener,” said Nutt. “(Offensive coordinator) Kent Austin has done a tremendous job with him. The first four games I think he put a lot of pressure on himself and this is really his first year to play. But the last five weeks, he came to play.”
Later this evening, Ole Miss will take in another sporting event at the American Airlines Center – the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
On New Year’s Eve, the Rebels will conduct their next-to-last Dallas practice, again on the SMU campus. This practice will be closed to the public but open to the media to obtain pictures and video from the first 20 minutes.
The 73rd AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, the final one to be played in Cotton Bowl Stadium at Fair Park, will kick off at 1:15 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. The Classic will be televised for the 11th consecutive year on FOX Sports. Pat Summerall and Brian Baldinger will handle the broadcasting duties, with Jeanne Zelasko and Krista Voda reporting from the sidelines. For the 16th consecutive year, the Westwood One Radio Network will broadcast the Classic, with Brad Sham and Terry Bowden at the microphones. The game is sold out.