I, for one, am tired of losing. Four and seven last year. Three and six so far this season with LSU coming to town this week and loss number seven appearing likely.
Then Mississppi State. They will be on fire. Will the Rebels show any desire to win or will be one of those let's get this over with games so we can go hunting.
It's not just that the Rebels are losing. It is the way they are losing. David Cutcliffe was criticized last year for his "quarterback by committee" policy. This year we have the same thing, quarterback by committee, but it has also been extended to other positions as well. Yes, the talent level is that low.
The team seems to be disorganized and the second half of the Arkansas game showed it. Giving up 21 unanswered points to a team that hadn't yet won a conference game is unthinkable-but it happened. 10 men on the field twice?
The rationalization that has accompanied the team's performance also is a sore point. With all due respect to the broadcast crew, don't tell me that the offensive line should get credit for keeping the defense off Ethan Flatt on a particular play. When your rushing offense gains 10 yards net in 34 carries and your quarterback is sacked four times, it is highly unrealistic that the offensive line should be praised for their performance on one play.
Someone called it a "tough" loss. It wasn't tough at all. Tough implies a bad break here, an unusual bounce there, something beyond your control happened to cause the outcome. When your opponent goes 8-8 on third down plays, as the Razorbacks did in the second half, breaks had nothing to do with it.
Coach Ed Orgeron commented after the game that they had to find some players who can rush the opponent's passer better. We said in an earlier column that it often looked as if the opponents' quarterbacks were wearing the spring practice jerseys that said "do not tackle this man." Coach also said they would have to find some taller corners. Cornerback play has been poor for the past two season and it continues poor in this one.
"Recruiting is going to be a big part of my job," Orgeron said. He's certainly right about that.
In all fairness, of all the disappointed people in the stadium, Orgeron must have been the most hurt by his team's play. I pulled his press conference earlier in the week and these were some of his comments about the then upcoming Arkansas game.
"We should be able to move the football with our running game."
(On practice that week) "Our run game got a lot better. We corrected some of the angles we were using with our running backs."
There was more but it was obvious the coach thought his kids had made progress and were ready to play the Razorbacks. For one half they did. Then the roof fell in and a 17-7 lead turned into a 28-17 defeat.
The only aspect of the game that was heartwarming was the loyal support of Rebel fans. Over 53,000 turned out for a game between two also-rans. That's a tribute to how much Ole Miss people love their team. The administration owes them more than what they got for their money last Saturday.
We all knew the talent level was down but I don't believe anyone believed it was as far down as it obviously is. There are giant holes to be filled this recruiting year. As we've said before, any high school star who wishes to avoid a redshirt year and wants to start playing right away should look to Ole Miss. Freshmen are almost certain to play a major role on next year's team.
With all this the defense, in the main, has been playing reasonably well. Yes, the line does not do a good job of pressuring the opponent's QB and yes the cornerback play is spotty at best but there is enough returning to make one think we'll be alright on that side of the ball.
But offensively Ole Miss needs a lot of work. Oh to have a Kenny Irons at Ole Miss. (Maybe BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the answer, we hope.) The Auburn tailback is the best in the SEC and we simply don't have a runner who can knock people out of the way and get yardage when we absolutely have to have it. If he's out there let's hope Ed Orgeron can find him.
I've gone back and read this column and I admit it sounds harsh. True but harsh. But I lived through the 1960s, as many of you did, and I miss the feeling that we can be competitive with anyone on our schedule. The 10 win season of 2003 reminded us of what the good times feel like. The past two seasons certainly do not.
Ole Miss has so much to offer. Great facilities. A loyal and loving fan base. An educational facility second to none.
What we don't have is a winning football program. Coach Orgeron, it's up to you. We're not criticizing you. You inherited what you inherited. But starting in 2006 it is up to you. You have a reputation as one of the country's best recruiters. We hope you'll soon be able to prove that reputation is deserved.
Tired of losing
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