If you’re a Rebel fan, you’ve no doubt read a lot on the internet and social media about the Ole Miss football team. Going into the game with Auburn, we all were reminded how it had been six quarters since the Rebels had scored a touchdown, how Ole Miss gave up 66 points to Alabama, and how people questioned the effort and ability of the staff and players.
If you’re looking for an article that will pile on top of all that, you’ve come to the wrong place.
As a photographer of Ole Miss football for The Rebel Walk, I’m fortunate to have a unique vantage point from which I get to see the team and coaches up close on game day. Taking pictures is not my “real” job; rather, it is my time to live out a dream shared by sports fans across the country.
In the real Monday-through-Friday world, I own a business and sales is my game. As anyone in sales knows, in order to be good you have to “see” the things others don’t—you have to pick up on the non-verbal clues, and you have to pay attention when others are not. So when I watch the Rebels, I am looking for the subtle nuances that one might not necessarily see from his couch or his seats 50 rows up in the stadium.
With that in mind, here are some notables from the game vs. Auburn.
Response to missed field goal
When I saw the Rebels’ field goal clank off the goal post, I immediately looked to the Ole Miss bench.
I saw five coaches sprint onto the field, clap their hands, and tell the kicker it was alright. I saw the staff congratulate the linemen on an effective drive against a quality defense.
I saw coaches whose actions said ‘we know you can do it; now keep fighting and we will turn this thing around.’
Defense kept fighting
Regardless of what anyone wants to tell you about the Ole Miss defense, I can promise you in Auburn last Saturday, I saw a defense fighting the whole game.
It happens each week in every game all across the country.
My point is this—there is a noticeable difference between trying and just not making the plays vs. not trying at all. The former can be worked on and ultimately fixed. The latter, not so much.
The Rebels’ defense had Auburn 3rd and 9 but jumped offsides two plays in a row. Unfortunately, Auburn scored a touchdown soon after. It is never any fun to let an opponent’s drive extend due to penalties that could have meant them being forced to punt the ball. However, keep in mind that if you’ve quit or are passive, this never happens. It was guys being overly aggressive, looking to make a play. This, I can live with.
Offense never quit
Ole Miss moved the ball in the first half, going from the Rebels 20 to their 30 with little trouble. We just couldn’t keep the drive going and punch it in. The non-touchdown streak grew to 8 quarters by halftime. Again, consider this—a team that quit would have been beaten 56-6 or something to that effect. The Rebels kept fighting.
The second half, Ole Miss kept some drives going and punched it in. At halftime, it appears the coaches made a conscious effort to go faster and it seemed to work. The players bought into this concept and we saw the results.
At the conclusion of the game against Auburn, Ole Miss is where I thought the team would be after five games. The coaches are coaching hard; the players are playing hard, and, frankly, the fans should show up Saturday, Lock the Vaught, and cheer as hard as they can.
I really like this staff, as well as the effort with which the players are playing. In the next five games, don’t be surprised if the Rebels finish the stretch at 4-1 or 5-0, if the ball bounces right. After starting 2-3, would you take a 6-4 or 7-3 record after ten games? I know I would!
Good luck on Saturday, Rebels. I will be on the sidelines looking for a big win vs Vandy!
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)