Texas Week

Texas week, part II. The Longhorns gave the Rebels their worst beating of the 2012 season, 66-31 in Oxford. But that was then, a year ago this month.

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Since then, Ole Miss has gone on to steadily improve, even over the course of two seasons. The Longhorns, meanwhile, suffered one of their worst losses in non-conference play in years over the weekend, 40-21 at BYU.

UT head coach Mack Brown, perhaps fighting for his own coaching life in Austin, fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, a former Mississippi State assistant and once thought of as one of the up and coming names in college football.

Brown went with a new hire from a former time at Texas, and his defensive coordinator starting this week is Greg Robinson, a journeyman football coach with Texas ties that was already on staff as a program analyst, whatever that role was.

That doesn't matter now. He's the defensive coordinator. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said he didn't know how the changes will affect things.

"I don't have the answer to that," he said. "It's certainly an uncomfortable feeling. We already had a shell of a gameplan together based on what they had done last year and early this year. Is that still a good plan? I don't know."

Now Freeze and company look at a Texas defense that has Robinson's "flavor to it," according to the Rebels' head coach.

Robinson has been a college assistant, NFL assistant, and head coach at Syracuse.

"He's been there (at Texas), so he probably knows their terminology," Freeze said. "We've watched his stuff from some other schools where he's been. It is quite a bit different than what they were doing. So we've got to be who we are and figure it out, particularly on third down and in the red zone. He's been at it a long time, and he'll have his ideas what to do with the talent that's there.

Serderius Bryant
Bruce Newman

"I've never experienced something like this on gameweek," Freeze said, "and none of the (Ole Miss) staff has. So it is an uncomfortable feeling. We've got to get first downs to stay on the field."

Ranked Rebs:

Ole Miss is 2-0 and Texas is 1-1. It's the Rebels who find themselves as a Top 25 team, coming in at No. 25 in both the AP and Coaches' polls.

Players in the Rebel camp say they still have to go play well to keep things moving in the right direction, no matter the rankings.

"That's huge," Jeff Scott said. "I was still in high school the last time (Ole Miss was ranked). We've worked hard for it, but we're not satisfied. We're going to continue to climb in the polls."

"It feels great to be ranked in the Top 25 teams in the nation, "Serderius Bryant said. "It's not going to stop here. We're going to keep going and going. We've got to keep proving ourselves week in and week out."

Freeze said the Rebels, ranked or not, will get Texas' best shot. And he believes the same will be the case for his team.

"I expect (Texas) to be very emotional in front of their home crowd. They'll raise their game," he said. "I expect to see them at their best.

"I don't think it will be hard to get our guys up. They understand. We challenged (them about Texas) after the (SEMO) game the other night. I think they'll be anxious to get ready for this game and give it their best shot."

Sawyer Sidelined?:

Ole Miss senior cornerback Charles Sawyer broke team rules in an off the field incident since Saturday night's game.

"I haven't talked with him yet," Freeze said. "I'm going to meet with him. He left me a message and sent me a text. He's very emotional and disappointed in himself. And of course we're disappointed in his decision.

"He's one of the finest kids on our team. But he made a mistake, and there'll be consequences. We'll deal with it like we do every other one. It will be in-house and we'll make a decision. But there will be consequences. I've never discussed what the consequences are. I'll make that decision what's best for our team, and hopefully helpful to correct the future decisions they make."

Charles Sawyer
Chuck Rounsaville

Normal Week:

With all the hype of another huge out of conference matchup with a marquee program, the challenges of the coordinator change at Texas, and his team being in an environment of 100,000 fans for the first time this season, Freeze said the staff talked about keeping things normal.

"That was the last thing I told our staff last night when we left, and that was ‘Timeout. Let's just stop and go through the week like we normally would. Continue to study, and if it has great merit and it's not a big challenge for our kids to change (something), I'll be open to using that. But we've got to be who we are and not go in with our kids being confused on what to do. So you have to be careful not to overthink it."

Freeze Frames:

* On recruiting players in the state of Texas: "Recruiting Texas is huge to us. We've picked up some momentum there. So if we go over there and do well, it could provide dividends."

* On Bo Wallace being more ready for a game like this than last year: "After Texas last year, Bo played some pretty big games at some good places in this league. All that experience has got to better prepare him for Saturday at Texas. I would think that's the same for the rest of our team. Does that mean results will follow? I don't know. But I'm comfortable we're better prepared mentally and physically."

* On the keys for the Rebel defense against the Longhorn offense: "Got to quit allowing the easy scores. First game we allowed two that resonate on my mind that were easy scores. And we had one the other night that cost us a touchdown. Hopefully we can stop the run. We could not do that last year against them. They have a lot of weapons and speed. And hopefully we get a couple of turnovers."

* On future big non-conference games like this: "Lot depends on if our conference goes to nine games. If we stay with eight (SEC games), I think one game in your non-conference that draws some national interest is good for your program - particularly if we can have two more recruiting seasons to get to that point. Home and home or a game like with Boise in Atlanta next year, they're good for our fans and conference and kids. I'm open to it - especially after a couple more years of recruiting. So if we stay at eight, I'd like to see it. Go to nine, that changes my mind some."

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