Looking Back on Saturday at Ole Miss with a Feeling of Pride
OXFORD, Miss. — Before we move on and look at the upcoming game against Auburn, I want to take a minute to reflect on the LSU game. What stands out the most to me about this past weekend at Ole Miss is pride.
Not the arrogant kind that goeth before the fall, but the kind that comes from seeing people you love do well at what they love.
It was the feeling we experienced as joyful Rebels in beautiful tents filled the Grove with laughter and cheers, while Eli Manning led our team through the Walk of Champions and head coach Lane Kiffin wore Eli’s No. 10 New York Giants jersey.
It was the feeling we had watching, whether in person or on television, as the SEC Nation crew broadcast live from The Grove, showing the country what we all know — the world’s best tailgating lives at Ole Miss.
It’s the feeling we all had as we watched the stadium filled with red-clad Rebels — so many that it was not only a sellout, but the sixth-largest crowd ever to watch a football game in the Vaught at 64,523 people.
It was the feeling we felt as we watched The Pride of the South perform, once again showing why they are the heart of Ole Miss.
It was the feeling we had seeing our banged up, injury-riddled football team take the field against LSU.
Down starting wide receivers and starting offensive linemen, and led by our bloodied-but-unbowed Heisman-candidate quarterback Matt Corral, who Coach Kiffin described as a “game-time decision” due to injury, our Rebels showed heart and grit and determination that, yes, made us all proud.
Down 7-0 early in the game, with a stadium of fans on pins and needles, our team didn’t flinch, even with the Tigers going for it on 4th and goal from our own three-yard-line and threatening to make it a 14-0 game. The Rebels just simply responded as Tysheem Johnson intercepted Max Johnson on the one-yard-line, and Ole Miss went on to score 31 unanswered. And we were proud.
It’s the feeling we had as we watched the often-maligned Ole Miss defense rise to the occasion in a way we haven’t seen in a while. LSU only mustered 77 yards on the ground for the entire game, stymieing the Tigers’ offense like we haven’t witnessed in a long time.
It was the pride we felt watching Mark Robinson — a transfer linebacker who arrived at Ole Miss as a walk-on running back — lead the team in tackles with 12 against LSU, proving, yet again, that a team-first mentality can take you great places.
It was the feeling we had as we watched Corral, who we know to be hurt, put the offense on his back, time and time again, whether it be via his talented arm or his feet.
It was the feeling we had watching Snoop Conner — listed as third on the depth chart — continue to keep his head down and work hard, putting the team above himself and remaining ready when his number is called. And oh was he ready, averaging 8.4 yards per carry against LSU, en route to 117 total yards.
It was the feeling we had as we watched the postgame comments from Coach Kiffin and Matt Corral on what the Mannings mean to Ole Miss and how blessed we are to have them as our first family of football.
It was the feeling we had as we watched so many former Ole Miss players who had returned to Ole Miss for the game express their love for their alma mater, gathering together to reminisce about their days playing for their beloved school.
Loved having some of our #NFLRebels back in the Vaught! pic.twitter.com/PtdjASd9bg
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) October 24, 2021
Perhaps this feeling is best described in the scene we saw at halftime.
It’s the feeling in our souls that every single Rebel fan experienced when we saw Archie and Olivia stand out on the field and watch as their son Eli’s Number 10 was unveiled at Vaught-Hemingway, forever enshrined with his father’s No. 18 and Chucky Mullins’ No. 38. Oh, what these two parents must have been thinking at that moment. Can you even imagine how proud they are of Eli?
Actually, you probably can imagine because he is our quarterback, our Rebel. He is as much family as if he were our own son, brother, father, or uncle.
Chills.#Celebrat10n | @EliManning pic.twitter.com/Ip98FExsh8
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) October 23, 2021
Pride — the feeling that swells up inside us as we watch the people we love enjoy and succeed at what they love. It was on all the faces of all the Rebels this weekend: fans and players and coaches.
It was well-deserved.
(Feature image: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.