More from the Rebel Road Trip stop in Tupelo.
One of the themes for Ross Bjork and Hugh Freeze has been to manage expectations for all of athletics but primarily football. Not their own expectations but fan expectations.
The Rebels went 7-6 last season after Freeze spent this time a year ago talking about a program in the “wilderness.”
With 19 returning starters and a consensus top 10 recruiting class coming in many fans believe the Rebels could take another giant step.
In addressing the group Wednesday Freeze made a distinction between enthusiasm and expectation. He’s working hard to hold the latter in check, not the former.
“Expectations that are unreal can produce frustration, he said. “Our job this year is to continue to create a great enthusiasm among our fan base and players and to keep increasing the expectations for where we all want to go.”
It’s a delicate balance. Freeze fired up his fans with memories of last year’s Egg Bowl win over Mississippi State. The trophy was brought in and was available for fan photos. Then talk of depth issues facing this much more experienced Ole Miss team was always nearby from both Freeze and Bjork.
The reality is the Rebels will be improved but could have a hard time showing that improvement in the final record.
They’re going to have to be a good road team early, or they’ll put themselves in a bind when that string of October home games finally arrives.
Ole Miss plays at Vanderbilt right out of the gate, an SEC regular season opener. The Commodores also return a lot of experience from a team that won nine games last year.
There are also trips to Texas, Alabama and Auburn before the first SEC home game against Texas A&M on Oct. 12.