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Rebels need to 'look in the mirror'

BATON ROUGE, La. - Hugh Freeze praised LSU for their play Saturday night in Death Valley as they emerged with a 38-21 win over his Ole Miss, but once he got over the formality of being gracious to the opponent, he said it was time for the Rebels to take a hard look at themselves.

"We have to figure out why we can't seem to play a complete game," said Freeze postgame, obviously frustrated with the outcome of another loss, this time at the hands of LSU. "They are a very good team, but we can do better and we have to do better against the quality teams we face every week.

"Our season so far has been out of 10 plays, we play seven as good as they can be played and then the other three poorly - a missed assignment, a missed alignment, a missed tackle, a bad read, a bad throw, you name it. Seven out of 10 in this league is not good enough."

And there it is, in a nutshell - the Rebels, as they have done in all four of their losses thus far this year, have played in spurts. Good as gold for moments; fool's gold the rest of the time, a baffling, to say the least, predicament. 

"I believe we have enough athletes to get the job done," said a beaten down Dave Wommack, the Rebel defensive coordinator. "It's very frustrating. We go out and practice hard every day, but still we go out and make little mistakes that turn into big mistakes when you are playing great teams week in and week out. I keep telling my guys that you have to do things correctly every play or you will get burned. That has not sunk in yet, obviously."

Wommack reiterated what he has said many times before - he shoulders the results.

"Ultimately, what you see out there is my defense. I take responsibility for it. It is the product of what we work on," he stated. "We have to make some changes. I think we have enough players, but we are not playing together the way we should. We have to come together as a group and play as one. We aren't doing that enough. We have to come together. We ran a different scheme this week, like we do just about every week, but we still got gashed. We switched to something else in the second half and got gashed again. We just are not a sound defense right now.

"We made a lot of good plays out there tonight. We caused turnovers, we had minus yardage plays, but we gave up three or four huge plays that just negate it all and kill our momentum and whatever equity we thought we had built."

Wommack was asked if he can fix the defense.

"Yes, we can. We are going through some difficult growing pains, but we can get better if we put our hearts and minds to it," he closed. 

Freeze was asked the same thing.

"We just have to keep playing. We had some kids play really hard and really well, but we had some who didn't," he noted. "I saw some things I wasn't crazy about out of some kids, but we will get those things straight. We have some good and some bad. We have a lot of fight in a lot of kids, but we had some kids who didn't respond.

"Dave Wommack has done great things for me and this program. One guy just doesn't all of a sudden get bad after being good for as long as he has. We've got a combination of things going on and we just have to keep fighting."

On the offensive side of the ball, it's a mystery as well.

"Coaches and players have to take a hard look on the offensive side as well. We have to grow up and play a full game," Freeze stated. "The way we started the second half offensively put our defense in a terrible bind. We went three-and-out three times in a row to start the second half. That won't get it done.

"LSU didn't change anything. They are who they are. We had a back who missed some checks because they said they could not hear the calls. That got us off to a bad start and it snowballed on us from there."

OC Dan Werner said LSU didn't do anything differently, but they turned up the heat and the Rebs didn't respond. 

"We came out flat and didn't play well in the third quarter. They turned up the intensity and we didn't match that intensity," said Werner. "We felt like we had a bead on what they were doing defensively - they are who they are, but we did not execute in the second half the way we did the first.

"We just are not playing good after intermission and I'm not sure why."

QB Chad Kelly was under fire in the second half and had average numbers for him. Is he trying to do too much? Werner is not sure.

"I know he is a competitor and I know he wants to do well and I know he tries to put the team on his shoulders, especially when things aren't going well," Dan stated. "He wants to win, but things aren't falling our way right now."

Tomorrow, the Rebels will wake up and be staring straight at a 3-4 record.

It will be time for that "hard look" Freeze is demanding.



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