Ok, Rebel Nation. There has been a lot discussion going around about how good our football team is after the recent two losses. A lot of Rebel fans are questioning Coach Hugh Freeze’s coaching decisions on the field. Some fans are even questioning the players talent, more so of Bo Wallace. You can see these frustrations through Twitter, Facebook, and on sports forums. So, what is the key element that has inflicted all this sudden banter? Once again, some fans have set our expectations way too high. It started in 2012, when the team produced seven wins, including an Egg Bowl and BBVA Compass bowl wins. This came right after a two win 2011 season. Then it was back in February, when the university signed it’s biggest recruiting class in school history. So, it was quick to expect much more out of our team in 2013.
This is only year two of the Hugh Freeze era. He still needs to learn how to coach in the SEC, considering this is also only his 2nd year in the conference as a head coach. Your are going to have to give him time to meet higher expectations. Will it happen? Depending on high your expectations are, it is hard to say. If your expectations are to have future National Championship run, then that is very unrealistic to say that is going to happen right now. If your expectations are for a couple of losses, and a high bowl bid, then that is more likely to say is going to happen in the next few years. If your expectations are to just simply to have a little more success then what we have had in recent years, including last year. Then, that could be easily expected to happen this season.
As far as the players, yes, there is so much talent in this team to produce a championship team. But, yet again, for the majority of these talented players, this is their first time ever playing in collegiate sports. So, they are also going to need some time to develop. On paper, we were suppose to beat Auburn. By the overall stats in the game, we should have beaten Auburn. Our defense only allowed Auburn to pass for 93 yards. In fact, Ole Miss outgained Auburn in total offense by 89 yards. We just failed to capitalize where it counted the most, the scoreboard. So yeah, Auburn fans can easily say, “we snuck one out from under their feet”.
Bo Wallace, was sacked seven times in the game. So, to blame him more so than the offensive line on not capitalizing on offense, is ridiculous. He threw for 336 yards and had two touchdown passes. There were a total of six dropped passes by Rebel receivers, four of which would have resulted in a first down or more. So, we can calm down on bashing our quarterback for losing the game, that is simply not the case. You can not just point the blame at anyone. It was just simply an upsetting loss. The reason why we lost to a mediocre talented Auburn team, is due to our freshman players nerves getting the best of them in the game. It happens. You can imagine the disappoint they still felt after the loss to Alabama.
Do I believe we will rebound in this season? Absolutely. I still believe we can upset one of the two big teams we still have to play, Texas A&M or LSU. Last year, we did lose to both teams, but it came down to the final minutes of the game. We also did that without the new talent we have now. The #9 ranked Texas A&M has a 6 point spread over the Rebels going into the game. Six points against the #9 team in the country!
The biggest advantage we have now is that we have six straight home games before we play a bad-to-mediocre Mississippi State team in Starkville. So with all that, I still believe this team does have the potential to produce a 8-4 or 9-3 season. If it doesn’t, then I am not going to beat our team up over it. This team still needs the opportunity to grow. The players and our coaching staff need the opportunity to rebuild this once broken team. And, it will. One day. One day, we will not be referred to as “just Ole Miss”.