Still on Schedule

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said earlier this week Alabama is the standard to which every program measures itself.

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Suffice to say, after Saturday, a 25-0 Alabama win, Ole Miss isn't quite ready to hang with the Southeastern Conference elite.

Still, the Rebels remain ahead of schedule, no matter what the final score in Tuscaloosa on an ugly night read. The nightmare of 2011 is well in the distance, the Rebels kicking up dust and moving on from the worst season in their history.

"I think we're a lot better than we were last year," Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt, who had four tackles and his third interception of the season in the loss, said. "We made fewer mistakes than we did last year. We definitely still have some work to do. But we haven't lost any confidence whatsoever.

"We know this is the No. 1 team in the nation. They're No. 1 for a reason. We knew we would have to play almost a perfect game. We know we made some mistakes. Our confidence isn't broken. We'll go in and fix our mistakes tomorrow. We'll have our heads held high going into Auburn.

The outcome was never really in doubt tonight, especially with Ole Miss' inability to muster much offense on the Crimson Tide defense. Ole Miss entered the game averaging 33 points per game in one and not quite a half seasons under Hugh Freeze and 38 points through three games this season.

Laquon Treadwell
USA TODAY images

Alabama responded by holding the Rebels scoreless - which last happened to Ole Miss in a 1998 loss to Arkansas and its first-year head coach … ahem … Houston Nutt.

Actually, until tonight, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze had never been shut out as a college head coach in any of his three stops - Lambuth, Arkansas State or Ole Miss.

"Really felt good about our preparation," Freeze said. "I really felt we had a shot to get this thing deep into the game and be in it. We didn't have answers for the stuff they were doing defensively.

"That's frustrating, and I take that pretty personally."

When Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon broke off a 68-yard touchdown on the second play of the second half, giving the Crimson Tide a 16-0 lead, the game was all but over. Alabama added the exclamation point with a fourth-down stand at its 7 in the third quarter, a Bo Wallace pass attempt knocked down by Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley. Ole Miss was 0-2 in the red zone in the third and fourth quarters. A safety and a 50-yard touchdown run by Alabama running back Kenyan Drake were garbage points.

Here's the thing: To make a loss to Alabama any more than it is - one loss - would miss the point Freeze has tried to hammer home, over and over, since he was hired at Ole Miss. You know, about the process and all that; how Ole Miss is close but there's work to do, depth issues and on and on.

The Rebels have won three of their first four games. They're well-positioned for an improved season record-wise and bowl-wise from a year ago.

Deep breaths, people. A road trip to Auburn next week just became that much more important, but they needed to win next week no matter the outcome of this game, really. I mean, Texas A&M and LSU follow the Tigers.

"If you had told me we were going to be 3-1 with the schedule we had, being on the road as much as we have, I'd have been tickled pink," Freeze said.

And that's the point. Not that an Ole Miss offense that entered the game averaging 490 yards of total offense and 38 points was blanked. Not that Ole Miss surrendered a pair of touchdown runs of at least 50 yards. None of that.

Ole Miss is 3-1, no matter how ugly the one was. And what is that other sermon Freeze always preaches? About turning the page to Sunday, trashing the previous game and moving on? Sounds about right.

Considered tonight trashed. Moving on.

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