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Evan Swindall said the whole team knows it's been a long time since Ole Miss started a football season 3-0. Until this season's perfect start, that is.

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"It's high. It's exciting. First time to go 3-0 since 1989. That's before I was born," said the Rebels' starting center. "So it's been a while. It's great. I'm excited."

So is everyone associated with Ole Miss football, from those behind the scenes to those in the stands. For Swindall, thoughts of back to back games in his home state are something special to look forward to through this weekend's open date.

"I'm very excited to be going to play in the state of Alabama," said Swindall, who actually played his senior season of high school football at LaFayette High in LaFayette, Ga., but before that played at Spain Park High in Hoover, Ala. "I have confidence we can compete with them."

Obviously competing against Alabama, up next, and then Auburn the week after that is one thing. But the Rebels intend to go win them.

It's back to back games in Tuscaloosa for the Rebels as the Southeastern Conference schedule calls for some of those type things throughout the league. Last season Ole Miss ‘competed" against the national champion Crimson Tide as well as anybody all season – except Texas A&M which beat Alabama. Ole Miss left Tuscaloosa with a 33-14 loss.

Competitive but still a loss.

One reason Swindall believes the Rebels will be competitive again with an even better chance to win is a second year in the strength and conditioning program of Coach Paul Jackson.

"I think we're so much more well-conditioned," said Swindall, who has played in 30 games now in his fourth season of college football. "Coach (Paul) Jackson did a great job this offseason. And (the coaches) are constantly pushing the tempo, even in practice drills just making us go harder.

"I thought we were in good shape last year. We're in even better shape this year. It's insane to think that, but it's true."

The Rebels were able to control the tempo much of the time against the Crimson Tide last season, much to the dismay of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who at least last year was not a fan of uptempo offenses. This year the Tide will likely be more prepared for what the Rebels bring. But a lot of teams are offensively doing some things similar.

Swindall said the tempo for the Rebel "O" continues to improve through three games.

Evan Swindall
Bruce Newman

"It's gotten better. It's not at its best yet," he said. "As we keep going and get faster and faster like Coach (Dan) Werner says, no doubt it will get better. We're going to get there."

Swindall likes to think he's having his best season yet, even though it's still early.

"I've been consistent so far grades-wise," he said. "I'd like to get better, and I've been working on technique a bunch more."

This week, with the first of two open dates this season, has allowed for some of that improvement.

"I like the open date (at this time). That we have two this year is even better," Swindall said. "It helps me because I get reps against the ones and I don't have to go against scout team the whole time. We have to make different blocks, and we have to get it done."

The Rebels have played in some hostile environments in filled stadiums so far through three games. All three were capacity crowds to date.

Swindall said that has prepared the Rebels for what lies ahead in the state of Alabama for two games, and he's been doing the best he can to give the signals to the rest of the "O" line.

"Sometimes it gets hard," he said of dealing with the crowd noise. "Sometimes you have to wing it and hopefully get the call right. Just go with it."

Swindall said sometimes the offense has to go on a silent count. But he's used to that and it works out well for the offense when needed.

In the second half at Texas, the Rebels won those two quarters 27-0 and ultimately the game 44-23. Swindall said at halftime each game, it's exactly what you'd think it to be given their performances. And so far the second halves have belonged to the Rebels in the two biggest games of this season.

"It was insane. After halftime, we were really good," Swindall said of Austin where the Rebels trailed 23-17 at the break. "It's the best half I think we've ever had.

"They're confident," he continued, speaking of how the coaches handle things at intermission. "We were down against Texas and Vanderbilt, and we came back in both of those. We don't ever give up. Don't quit. That's what we do. We listen to the coaches and trust what they say. And it works."

Swindall said freshmen Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson have come in and performed well. He likes what he sees from them now and knows their futures are bright.

"I'm proud of them. They've done everything right," he said. "They go to class. They play their hearts out on the field. As a senior, I'm really pleased to see those two guys stepping up."

And now it's a weekend to watch other teams play as the Rebels enjoy their No. 21 ranking that goes along with a perfect season to date. Then it will be back to preparations for Alabama next week, and Auburn the following week.

"It's fun. I love playing at Alabama," Swindall said. "It's where all my friends go to school. Living in Alabama, in Hoover and Russellville for so long, it's fun to get back there and play them. And Auburn at Jordan-Hare. Both those stadiums are great atmospheres. I know a few guys that go to both schools. It's just fun to go back there and play."

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