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Bears Putting Final Touches On Ole Miss Game Plan

September 18, 2019
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The Bears had their final lengthy practice Wednesday and finalized their preparations for Ole Miss. They will have a light practice on Thursday, then take off for Mississippi. They will use the extra day to acclimate themselves to the weather (hot and humid) and the time change.

Given the number of players who were not available at the end of the North Texas Game, including running back Chris Brown, offensive lineman Valentino Daltoso and the top four outside linebackers, head coach Justin Wilcox was not specific in giving an update on their conditions. 

He said simply. “Better today.”

“Better enough to play Saturday?”

“We’re hopeful.”

So we -- and Ole Miss -- won’t know for sure until 9 a.m. Saturday.

As usual on Wednesday the Bears worked mostly on “situations”, third downs, two-minurte drills, etc.

“Went well,” Wilcox said. “We improve every week. Glad we had success the first three games, but we have a lot of growth we need to make in all phases, offense, defense, special teams. We can talk for awhile about the things that can improve. That is what I like about our team they come out here with that in mind. They’ve done a nice job this week. Now we need to go apply it.”

The Bears played their first three games on artificial turf, but on Saturday the field will be real grass. Wilcox does not believe that will make a difference.

“Grass is so good these days,” he said. “The way the artificial turf is, they are really close to being the same thing so it won’t be an issue. We’ll have our cleats in there on warmups, so we’ll run around a little bit.”

Through the first three games, the Bears have forced five turnovers, two interceptions, three recovered fumbles. Wilcox would like more.

“You are always trying to get more turnovers. Absolutely,” he said. “We had some opportunities for turnovers that we just didn’t quite make. Turnovers are pressure on the quarterback, making a play on the ball, whether it’s causing a fumble, population to the ball where you get a tip and and an  interception. Those things come with great effort and our guys are playing with great effort. We’ve got to keep doing that, and we’ll have the opportunity. When you have the opportunity you've got to make the play. We’ve had a few we didn’t quite make. If there was one drill to guarantee us three to five turnovers we would do the drill. That’s just not how it works.”

He is looking forward to the environment that an SEC team with an enthusiastic crowd can provide. “It will be a great atmosphere,” he said. “People get into it down there, as you know. Our fans are excited to go down and enjoy that. And our players are excited every week to play and it will be no different this week obviously with a great opponent, and SEC opponent and la geat place.”

Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said of football down south: “ It;s a big community time. The people really turn out for their games. Our guys are excited to be in that environment.”

It will be something of a homecoming for wide receiver Jordan Duncan, who hails from Hattiesburg, Miss. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Wilcox said. “When you come this far to go to college and you have the chance to go back. I’m sure he’ll have a lot of friends and family there. He’s done a really nice job this week as he has every other week. Nothing different in terms of his preparation. I’m sure he’s excited to get back there in front of friends and family.”

Another Bear from the region is defensive lineman Luc Bequette who is from Little Rock, Ark.

“This is the kind of  game I’ve been waiting for since I committed here,” he said. “...I have about 25 people coming in. I’ve got to gather some tickets. It’s hard because even the California guys have family connections in yhe South. It’s been hard trying to find the tickets,  but I’ve still got a couple of days.”

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