December 19, 2008

Wallace wants respect for passing game

Mike Wallace doesn't begrudge Michael Crabtree the accolades he receives.

However, the Ole Miss wide receiver is a little put-off at the discrepancy in attention the Rebels' receiver corps gets in comparison to what is received by their counterparts at Texas Tech.

"I'm a competitor and we feel like we deserve a lot of the same kind of recognition they're getting," Wallace said. "We understand that we're not in the same type of system they're in. We spread the ball out a lot but they throw the ball almost every play. We have a balanced offense. We'd like to be out there like that. We feel like we're just as good, if not better, but we're not in the same kind of offensive system as them. We don't worry about it too much."

Wallace and No. 20 Ole Miss (8-4) will get a chance to earn some of the attention on Jan. 2 in Dallas when they square off against Crabtree and the eight-ranked Red Raiders (11-1) in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

"We feel like a lot of people aren't giving us a chance and feel like we're just happy to be in this game," Wallace said. "We're out to prove everybody wrong."

Wallace has caught 35 passes for 704 yards and six touchdowns during his senior season, numbers he believes he can pad in Dallas.

"They play a lot of zone coverage," Wallace said. "They never, ever play man-to-man. They're a good team but we go against good (defensive backs) every week. We know they're going to come to compete and come to win the game, but we're going to be there with a lot of intensity.

REBELS STARTING TO WRAP THINGS UP: Ole Miss took the pads off Friday and shortened practice as well, going for about 1 hour, 45 minutes in shorts and helmets in the indoor practice facility.

"I thought we moved around well," Nutt said. "We put them in a lot of different situations and ended with a two-minute drill and I think our young people were glad to see the pads come off. They were getting a little sore. But it's been good, though."

Nutt said he still didn't have definitive word regarding offensive guard Maurice Miller's academic status, but it was likely a favorable sign that Miller was back with the first-team offense Friday, sharing time with Reid Neely and Darryl Harris.

Nutt passed out a $200 pre-paid card players can use during their week in Dallas. Players will receive a mileage check before they leave Oxford Saturday. The rest of the bowl gifts, including the Cotton Bowl watch, will be distributed when the team arrives in Texas.

NAME TO WATCH: In separate interviews Friday afternoon, linebacker Tony Fein and defensive end Kentrell Lockett lavished praise on freshman linebacker Jason Jones.

"Jason Jones is a stud," Fein said. "(Freshman linebacker) Lekenwic (Haynes) is a real good football player. He just needs to put on a little weight. Marques Jenkins is impressive."

"I don't know why, but (Jones) has this swagger about him and this intensity about him," Lockett said. "(Freshman defensive end) Gerald Rivers is coming on, too. He's going to be a guy people are going to be looking for. I see myself (two years ago) when I see him -- a tall guy who just needs to gain some weight."

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