By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Sundays are about the truth at Ole Miss, and the truth so far had been pretty good for a program seeking the way out of the wilderness.
Another truth emerged against Texas Aamp&M, and the Ole Miss coaches face their biggest week of the season this week.
The truth is there has been remarkable improvement for a team that won just twice last year and was in position to win few other times.
“Sunday is about the truth. We watch it, we tell the truth about what happened on tape, and then we throw it in the garbage,” offensive line coach Matt Luke said.
The new truth is that the Rebels had victory within their grasp against a very talented Aggies team, but didn’t execute the single biggest plays to win the game.
Hugh Freeze was animated on Monday in defense of his approach, if not is play call. Being in the shotgun was absolutely the right thing on fourth-and-1 inch based on the speed of the Aggies defense and what Freeze had seen before.
The second-guessing comes on the play call, not the formation.
The truth for the week is that Freeze and his staff have their toughest job since being hired.
Conditioning, winning the day and discipline are all important, but they’re intangible, and they speak to the future.
The present looks like this. The Rebels have been competitive against two teams ranked in the top 15 then pushed Aamp&M to within a single play – name your play – of defeat. The Aggies’ dramatic comeback catapulted them into the top 25.
Fans see this improvement and are eager for a tangible result, something to break an embarrassing SEC losing streak that spans more than two years and has reached 16 games.
Freeze and his staff face the task of keeping players’ confidence up, their emotions even, after a gut-wrenching loss.
The focus factor is different against an Auburn team that is struggling. The Rebels find themselves in the unfamiliar position as the favorite, according to the Vegas folks.
The job becomes more difficult for Freeze from a preparation standpoint as Auburn has yet to name a starter at quarterback. It could be Clint Moseley, who was 12 for 15 passing with four touchdowns against Ole Miss in a 41-23 Auburn win last year. He replaced the athletic Kiehl Frazier in the second half of Auburn’s 24-7 home loss to similarly struggling Arkansas.
How often in college football do you see a favored team who has lost 16 straight in the league?
Things are different for Ole Miss now. The Rebels have accelerated expectations by the way they are competing, and it’s time to find the light at the end of the wilderness.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.