By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Having survived the pitfalls of opening with an SEC opponent on the road, Ole Miss faces a Football Championship Subdivision team this week in Southeast Missouri State.
The Redhawks were 6-16 over the two previous seasons and opened 2013 with a 45-7 loss at Southeastern Louisiana.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said at his Monday news conference he doesn’t view this as an opportunity to rest players who are at less than full strength or to pump as much game action as possible to freshmen expected to play key roles this season.
Freeze pointed to the success of the smaller schools on the first weekend as Eastern Washington knocked off No. 25 Oregon State, and Towson State and McNeese State also were among the winners.
“We’ve got to prepare. The one thing I see from last year is they control the football, and they eat the clock. It’s never fun preparing for an option-type team,” Freeze said.
He went on to acknowledge that he hopes to play a lot of players Saturday in the Rebels’ home opener. Kickoff at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is 6 p.m.
Ole Miss is coming off a 39-35 win over Vanderbilt.
Eleven Southeast Missouri players were making their first starts, five of them playing in their first college game.
Remember Jax State
Ole Miss lost to an FCS opponent in 2010, falling 49-48 in double overtime to Jacksonville State, the first of eight losses that season.
That Jacksonville team was rated higher in the preseason than this Southeast Missouri team, which was picked eighth in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference.
Like Ole Miss, the Redhawks lost a starting offensive lineman in their opener as right tackle Garret Baker broke his right leg.
Southeast Missouri is 1-17 all time against FBS (former Division I) schools.
“We’re not overlooking anybody. We know who we play this week,” Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said. “When it comes to preparation we have a mature team.”