Notes from the Sidelines: Senior Night at Vaught-Hemingway
Editor’s Note: Dan Anderson is The Rebel Walk’s photographer, so he’s always got a great view of the game and all the pageantry that goes along with it. Here are his “Notes from the Sidelines” from Senior Night at The Vaught.
OXFORD, Miss. — Senior Night is always a special night, one where we honor those Rebels who have dedicated four, five or even six years of their lives to playing college football. They come in as boys and leave as grown men. These athletes have learned to deal with setbacks and injuries, successes and failures, and highs and lows.
Senior Night brings with it a sense of finality that for most won’t fully set in until later.
It was the last time they will have the joy of standing in the tunnel, the last time they will rub Chucky on the head, and the last time they will run onto the field in front of their beloved fan base.
Senior Night is special. Personally, I tear up every time.
I think about the guys who came in with great aspirations, but who suffered injuries that kept them from meeting their goals. I think about the guys who came in with big dreams, hoping to be stars at Ole Miss, but who became role players, instead. I think about those walk-on guys who just wanted to live the dream as long as they can.
Even as I write this article, I have a lump in my throat imagining all that they have encountered — and triumphed over — during their time here.
What a Show!
Hats off to the planners of the pre-game show, as it was electric. Night games in Oxford should be feared by the opponents. The show sets the mood for the fans, and I love what Ole Miss is bringing to the table.
We have all heard the old saying about watching out for a “trap game.” It may be cliche in some instances, but Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt was truly a trap game if there ever was one.
Sandwiched between a great 29-19 win over Texas A&M and preparing for the Egg bowl, here came a Vandy team that sat at 2-8. Their offensive stats were horrid and their defense was giving up plenty of points. On any other Saturday, the Rebs run them back to Nashville by halftime.
Ole Miss came out on fire, and it looked like this game would be over by halftime. Something happened in the middle of the first quarter, though, and it seemed as if we just started going through the emotions. If you listen to what Coach Kiffin said in his postgame presser, he commented he was debating on lighting into the team, but then saw Matt Corral was already doing it.
These boys are doing something special this season, including going undefeated at home for the first time since 1992.
The offense was sluggish and seemed to be stuck in second gear for a bit, but it happens. I, for one, am just glad it happened versus Vandy.
I am fully certain the Rebels will be back in full stride and ready to hang 50 on the Bulldogs. This game was an attention-getter and I think we will see the results of that focus Thursday night.
It looks like the injury bug in our receiving corps has moved on, as Jonathan Mingo, Braylon Sanders and Dontario Drummond all played against the Commodores. Jahcour Pearson, who has been playing better every game since the Tennessee game, had a nice night against Vandy and led the team with 101 yards receiving on four catches.
The defense was stingy Saturday but not quite as much as they have been the past few weeks. I still love their intensity and their effort. They fly to the ball and gang tackle. I thought Cedric Johnson played great; he seemed to be around the ball all night. Sam Williams is a true force who gets better every game.
I hate to see this team leave Vaught-Hemingway, as I had more fun covering this group than any prior.
Thank you, seniors! Thank you for the memories, thank you for the effort, and thank you for sticking around. You deserve this special season!
Dan Anderson is a photographer and writer for The Rebel Walk. In addition to his work covering Ole Miss football and baseball for The Rebel Walk, Dan has written for a number of newspapers and has experience as a public address announcer, handling both play-by-play and color commentary. Dan has been involved with athletics as a player, coach or parent for 40 years, and brings this unique perspective to his coverage, whether through his lens or with his pen.