LET’S MESS WITH TEXAS
But to which challenge am I referring, exactly?
Of course there are the general challenges any coach faces. There is the game planning, there is the scheming, there is the designing of plays, the motivation of players, and the preparation of the coaching staff. But the biggest challenge this young coach and his rebuilding program will undergo this weekend will come long after the final seconds have ticked off of the clock on Saturday.
It is, admittedly, a long shot to project an Ole Miss win. This is a team which, as I am sure you all would rather forget, only won two games last season. Issues of player recruiting, development, and attrition have had a ripple effect of sorts, and will continue to for the next couple of years. To put it simply, we are behind the eight ball right now.
Texas, on the other hand, while coming off of a pair of underachieving seasons, still has talent, resources, and momentum as a program which our Rebels lack. They are favored to win on Saturday, and there are reasons for that.
Last season, our Rebels gave away a fourth quarter 14-point lead to the BYU Cougars at home during the season opener. It was a close, hard-fought game, but in the end the Rebels lost. From that point on, the season was all but over. Aside from a hard fought game against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Rebs did not play four full quarters of full throttle football. An early loss and a handful of subsequent losses, coupled with a poorly managed firing of Houston Nutt, led to complacency, laziness, a lack of discipline and a sharp decline in the quality of football being played at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
This is Hugh Freeze’s biggest challenge, to ensure that the problems which have plagued this program over the past several seasons do not continue to hamper it. Already we are beginning to see an increased effort and improved attitude out of the players and coaches, but the season is still young and, hey, we are winning. If and when a negative turn of events occurs—and it is bound to occur, this is football we are talking about—will this team be able to recover? In addition, if this team is to experience moments of incredible achievement—again, entirely possible—will it be able to build on that achievement as opposed to resting on its laurels?
I have confidence that Hugh Freeze, his staff, and his players are up to this challenge, and I hope that is something we will be able to observe this season and in future seasons.
Hotty Toddy and BEAT TEXAS!
Ole Miss Rebels vs. Texas Longhorns
Saturday, September 15 @ 8:15 pm CST
(being shown on ESPN)