Commentary

After his team got bloodied last night by Wake Forest, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron candidly addressed the media in a way that left writers who were looking to do a hatchet job on the Rebels little ammunition. He beat them to the punch. Read about it inside.

After Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron met the press last night following the 27-3 thumping the Rebels took from Wake Forest, no sportswriter had to editorialize negatively about what happened.

O did our jobs for us.

In essence, he said the Rebs played lousy football and he was disappointed with himself, his coaches and his team.

There's not much more to say. . . he said it all from the heart, but he didn't stop there.

He discussed his biggest disappointment of all - that his squad has not improved after coming out of the gate with a pretty fair effort against Memphis in the opener.

He has only expressed one goal this season, through spring training, through August drills and through the early going of the season.

His goal was to see his team improve each week. He said it has not. He is correct.

Coach O also said his team did not compete. Anyone who knows Ed at all knows he cherishes that word - compete. It is his mantra, his passion, his creed.

I imagine Ed Orgeron woke up this morning a bit perplexed, as perplexed as the fans who braved the lightning and rain to watch the debacle were last night. The two hallmarks he was hoping for and laboring for - weekly improvement and tooth-and-nail competing - have not surfaced in a year when he knew, and has said many times, his team would have other limitations. He instinctively knew this team would have to show a propensity for putting everything on the line every snap and show weekly improvement to have a chance for a modicum of success. It has done neither on a consistent basis.

What's a guy to do? He ran a tough ship last year and his team quit on him at the end. He backed off this year, trying to make things more fun, trying to be more patient and the Rebs, last night, did not play with much abandon for him.

He said he will turn the intensity up a notch this week. Will that work? Who knows, but does he have any other choice? He's got to get some kind of response from a team that seems almost listless at times in certain areas and in certain situations.

After the Memphis game, a lot of people got prematurely giddy - I was one of them. Not Ed. He said, paraphrasing, "hold on boys, we don't know how this team will respond to adversity yet. . . "

Well, we do now. A few injuries, a few turnovers, a few penalties, a few busted coverages and missed tackles later and this team has not fought back like one would expect. I would venture to guess even the players are scratching their heads about that one.

Even our All-American MLB, Patrick Willis, didn't have an explanation after the Wake Forest game, limiting his answers to most of the questions thrown his way to a meek "I don't know. . . I wish I did."

What do I think? I think the same thing our coach does.

Yes, we've had some key injuries, but. . .

Yes, we have a lot of youth out there, but. . .

Yes, we are only in the second year of this program, but. . .

. . . but this team can do better. He knows it and so do we.

There will be no harsher critic in this morning's papers than Ed Orgeron was on himself and his team last night.

It's been said that the first step in correcting a problem is admitting there is one. Coach O not only admitted there is trouble in Rebelville, he detailed the sore spots.

If I know anything at all about our coach, I know this. He will not hold pat on a losing hand. He will take drastic measures, if necessary, to fix what is wrong.

It will be up to his team whether to respond with their hearts, bodies and souls. It's going to take that.

Ed did not put all the blame on his players. He shared it equally between himself, his staff and his kids.

Nobody is "blameless" in this 1-3 deal, but I know from nearly 30 years of experience one thing for sure.

Unless the players want it, truly want it, Ed Orgeron won't be able to wave some magic wand to fix this deal.

He and his staff can get the ball rolling in that direction, but if the players spit the bit, it will be over.

I don't think that will happen. I know these kids too well. They have put in too much effort to back off now.

The problem from this point on, however, is that the competition is about to jump up a notch or two.

How will the Rebels respond? Keep your fingers crossed because thus far, they haven't.


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