Reality Awaits

The Rebels have probably exceeded the expectations of most through the first two games, but now the stakes get higher and the road gets tougher. Reality is just around the corner.

Let's get to the meat of the matter quickly.

After two wins to open the 2012 season, anyone of Red & Blue persuasion has to like what they're seeing out of the Rebels.

They play hard every snap.

They're becoming more and more resilient, putting bad plays behind them quickly.

They're beginning to believe and have more confidence.

They're playing as a team and taking coaching. Their approach is unselfish.

They're playing better than I, the eternal optimist, expected them to so far.

There are some individuals surfacing with positive play who we didn't know what to expect when the season started. Guys like QB Bo Wallace, RT Pierce Burton, DT Issac Gross, LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Safety Trae Elston, TB Jaylen Walton, Husky Dehendret Collins and TB Randall Mackey at a new position, to name a few.

There are some young guys who have grown some fangs since last year, such as WR Donte Moncrief, DE C.J. Johnson, CB Senquez Golson and CB Wesley Pendlteon. Grown men now, all.

There has been some surprising play from a lot of guys who are starting to get the hang of things.

At this point in the season, other than a little more consistency, I don't know what more a realistic Rebel could ask for.

Randall Mackey
US Presswire

But now things get harder, probably a lot harder.

The Texas Longhorns will roll into town, backed by, guessing, 8,000 or so orange-clad fans, next Saturday night.

The national spotlight will be on Ole Miss.

Yes, the Rebels have responded well so far, but that was against UCA and UTEP. You could take the best off both those teams and not equal Texas, in quality or depth.

This is a formidable challenge.

What is the reality that awaits?

Texas will stampede into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with an SEC quality team. Probably not Alabama quality, but upper echelon SEC quality, it says here.

It's an unavoidable fact.

So what's the bottom line?

As proud as this hack has been with the Rebels to this point, it will take more than what we've seen to pull out a victory against UT.

Coach Hugh Freeze asked for four quarters of consistent play against UTEP because he didn't see that against UCA. He didn't get it against the Miners either - the Rebels lost the third quarter.

Against UCA, the Rebels won the turnover battle. Not so against UTEP. That can't happen versus Texas. No way, no how.

The Rebs have played fairly clean and disciplined from a penalty standpoint - that certainly has to continue.

PK Bryson Rose has uncharacteristically started the year O-fer. When points are there to be had, the usually dependable Rose has to nail the kicks.

While one doesn't want to use the word "perfect" to describe how the Rebels must play to pull off a big upset of Texas, well, they just about have to.

The Rebels showed a good deal of improvement from the first game to the second, in this humble opinion. That trend of taking big steps in improvement will have to carry through this week, for sure.

The Rebel fans have also been doing their part and are to be commended. Trust this: the team will need you more than ever next Saturday night.

This squad of Rebs will need you to pick them up if things turn against them.

Bo Wallace
Chuck Rounsaville

You may read this and believe it to mean the Rebels don't have much of a chance against UT.

That's not the intention. Anything can happen in sports. Every team has seen the unlikely from both sides of the fence - in victory and in defeat.

Texas is far from invincible. Ole Miss appears to be far from anyone's pushover.

I, for one, don't look for the Rebels to be intimidated or in awe of the task at hand.

But the reality is they'll be stepping up in class, in a big way, and to compete or win, they'll have to step up a notch or two themselves.

Here's a vote these Rebels will put it all on the line. Here's a vote the Rebs will bask in the limelight and give us, as fans, the best they have to offer.

Will it be enough? Does this team have enough bullets for what faces them?

We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, bask a little yourselves in what they have already accomplished and the direction this program is going in.

It's something to be proud of, support rabidly and cheer for.

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