By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss and Auburn will meet at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday morning with a similar vibe coming from each program:
The frustration that breeds in teams that aren’t winning.
For Ole Miss, it’s about not winning in the SEC. For Auburn, it’s about not winning almost at all.
The Tigers’ only victory in a 1-4 start was at home in overtime against Louisiana-Monroe. They’ve scored just two offensive touchdowns in an 0-3 SEC start, losing close to LSU at home but not so close to Mississippi State on the road and Arkansas at home.
Auburn did trail just 10-7 after three quarters before falling 24-7 to the Razorbacks last Saturday.
During the week redshirt freshman wide receiver Sammie Coates questioned the team’s leadership, never a a good sign for unity.
“The older guys don’t want it bad enough,” said Coates, to Auburn media earlier this week.
Last week it was Ole Miss with an open quarterback competition. This week it was Auburn. It’s unclear whether athletic sophomore Kiehl Frazier or junior Clint Moseley, the truer pocket passer, will start.
For the Rebels, Bo Wallace is the starter, but head coach Hugh Freeze has said he won’t stay on the field long if makes more decisions like the one on the Rebels’ last play last Saturday that resulted in an interception and help assure Texas Aamp&M’s dramatic 30-27 comeback win.
It was another case of coming close in an SEC game.
“I love the support, but I’m sick and tired of people telling us, ‘You’re almost there, you’re almost there.’ It’s kind of starting to make me mad. It’s a fine line. Football is about winning and losing, and we lost,” Wallace said. “It’s time to start winning some games.”
A house divided?
People aren’t telling the Tigers they’re close.
In fact, Coates’ comments imply division at a time when unity is a must.
“We have leaders on this team. I have to disagree with Sammie on that,” junior linebacker Jake Holland said. “The leadership on this team has been the same since Day 1.”
Holland said he’s seen no evidence of finger-pointing on the team in spite of those comments.
There’s been no evidence of finger-pointing at Ole Miss, either. Most of the Rebels’ 16-game losing streak occurred under the previous coaching staff.
Freeze’s up-tempo offense and success in non-conference games boosted the players’ confidence.
The Rebels moved the ball and scored against Texas, had two long touchdown drives against Alabama and had Texas Aamp&M on the ropes.
“Everyone is sick of losing,” safety Cody Prewitt said. “We’re doing our part, and it’s time for things to start going our way.”