Ole Miss Dealing With Higher Expectations

Ole Miss is dealing with inflated expectations after a surprising 2012 campaign.

Hoover, Ala.--Following a 7-6 record and a bowl win in a season when little was expected of them, the Ole Miss Rebels will have to deal with expectations for the first time since the days of Eli Manning when they take the field this fall. With a load of experience coming back and a talented recruiting class heading to Oxford, talented wide receiver Donte Moncrief said the Rebels think last season was just the start of what is to come under Hugh Freeze.

"The feeling is great; knowing that our fans expect more of us," Moncrief said. "The big thing is just staying focused and listen to Coach Freeze and stay on the same page with him because if we stay on the same page with him, it will be hard to stop us.

"We just know that we can do better than we did last year," he added. "There were a lot of small things that we messed up on and Coach Freeze says, ‘the small things will beat you.' We have to work on the small things and get better as we go."

Getting better must happen in the preseason as the Rebels face a daunting schedule to start the 2013 slate. Opening on Thursday night at Vanderbilt, Ole Miss travels to Texas in week three before a week off in preparation for a trip to Alabama. The following week is a visit to Auburn before returning home to face Texas A&M and LSU to start a six-game homestand. Freeze said while the schedule isn't ideal you just have to play the hand you're dealt.

"Well, honestly I don't know exactly how the schedule came about," Freeze said. "A lot of that was done before I got here. You know how scheduling is done quite far in advance. Some of it had to do with the reshuffling of who we play in this conference, with crossover games, adjusting your non-conference games to those.

"Certainly I wish it wasn't that way. I don't think it's ideal. But we have kind of a motto around our place. We talk about what we can control. I can't control that we're playing those five on the road right out of the gate pretty much. But I can control how we prepare for them. So we try not to give much power to that as far as it being a negative."

Returning starting quarterback Bo Wallace knows all about handling the things you can control. Healthy after off-season injury problems, Wallace should have plenty of weapons at his disposal on offense as the Rebels look to take another step forward this season. Knowing it won't be an easy task, the veteran signal-caller said they'll just have to take things day by day.

"I think our confidence level is higher, but at the same time, I think expectations as a team, we kind of leave to the fans and leave to the media to talk about," Wallace said. "We just control what we can in our building and know that we have the players to play in this league and play in the SEC West and control what we do every day in the building."

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