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Rebels preparing for hostile environment of Bryant-Denny

Rebels preparing for hostile environment of Bryant-Denny

OXFORD, Miss. — It was Thanksgiving, almost two years ago. It was the infamous Elijah Moore “marking his territory” game. It was a 21-20 loss to Mississippi State. It was Matt Luke’s last game as the Ole Miss head coach. 

Thanks to the pandemic 2020 season, it was the last true road game for the Ole Miss Rebels.

When Ole Miss takes the Bryant-Denny Stadium field Saturday, it will have been 674 days since the Rebels ventured into true enemy territory.

The 101,821 seats in the stadium will be filled – mostly by fans wearing crimson – and only a handful of Rebels have experienced that atmosphere. But those players are letting their teammates know what they can expect when the football is kicked off at 2:30 p.m.

“It’s going to be loud; I mean just plain and simple it’s going to be loud,” fifth-year senior Ben Brown said.

I mean it’s going to be hard to hear at times. We’re just going to have to be laser focused, locked in on our assignments. We’re going to have to echo all of our calls, especially on the offensive line. I mean there will be times where we might not hear the snap cadence, we might have to go to silent count, I’m not sure. We’re just going to have to be ready for everything in that hostile environment.”

Ole Miss OL Ben Brown on playing at Bryant-Denny

Brown and some upperclassmen have played in Tuscaloosa and other stadiums in the Southeastern Conference, while one other player has seen sellout crowds in other parts of the country. 

Linebacker Chance Campbell transferred to Ole Miss after graduating from Maryland. While with the Terps, he was able to play in some storied venues in the Big Ten Conference.

Penn State gets pretty loud, 107 (thousand) is the real deal. Ohio State, that’s loud too. The stadium is pretty vertical so that sound bounces. Michigan’s a big stadium, I think it’s loud just because of the nature — it’s more bowl-like. But I’ve played in front of some loud crowds and obviously the guys down here who’ve already been to Alabama and to LSU and to some of those places that get up there.

LB Chance Campbell on playing in front of large crowds

To prepare for the situation Saturday, Ole Miss has been pumping in artificial noise at practice to simulate what the Rebels can expect this week. It is loud at practice, but not really like what Ole Miss will hear in Tuscaloosa.

“I’d say it’s (the artificial noise at practice) different,” Brown said. “I’d say it’s probably more noise deafening just because, you know, the amps are so loud, it’s just a different kind of noise. I guess when you’re in a stadium and there’s, you know, 90,000 fans in there screaming. So, it’s a different type of noise, but you know having something like that obviously helps preparing us, that way you’re not surprised on Saturday.”

Not all the Rebels will be in foreign territory this week. Defensive back A.J. Finley is a Mobile, Ala., native and he relishes the opportunity to play in his home state.

It’s always fun going back to Tuscaloosa to play because I’ve got a lot of friends that go to Alabama. And it’s always fun to go play in front of them, try to get a win.

AJ Finley on playing in Tuscaloosa

Brown, who hails from Vicksburg, agrees with Finley’s assessment of the atmosphere that awaits the Rebels.

It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun. The fans are going to be loud they’re going to be going crazy.

Ben Brown

The game can be seen on CBS Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT). 

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy)

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for, and as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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