By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
ATHENS, Ga. – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said the coming week will test his team’s leadership as it faces Vanderbilt at home with a chance to become bowl-eligible.
In the first minutes following the Rebels’ 37-10 loss at Georgia on Saturday, senior linebacker Mike Marry stood up and showed some of the leadership Freeze wants to see.
“Mike Marry pulled us all together after coach Freeze was done talking and got us really fired up and ready to go,” offensive tackle Pierce Burton said.
The Commodores are in the same boat. They won their fifth game of the season Saturday with a 40-0 shutout of Kentucky.
Trying to reach its first bowl game since the 2009 Cotton Bowl, Ole Miss follows Vanderbilt with a trip to LSU – hey last won there in 2008 – and a home game against Mississippi State in the regular season finale.
Vanderbilt has won four of the last five in the series.
Freeze said he felt the Rebels were “drained” of momentum in the third quarter Saturday. Getting re-focused, then, will be a challenge for the upperclassmen.
‘A LOT TO PLAY FOR’
“We’ve certainly got a lot to play for, and this will be a great test for the leadership of this football team,” Freeze said. “We get to play at home in front of our fans, and we expect our fans to show up.”
Over the last week, the Rebels were able to prepare with the momentum of two-straight SEC wins.
Vanderbilt will have that edge this week and will carry a threegame win streak into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Commodores blew open the game in Lexington with 20 points in the second quarter and outgained Kentucky 445-260.
“I think our spirit is pretty high,” Burton said. “We still have a lot to play for. We could win these next three games and go to a bigger bowl game.”