One big question

Since the Wake Forest game, a lot of Rebels, including Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron, have been questioning the intensity level of the team in games. Coach O is addressing that, and getting a favorable response, in practice this week. Read about it inside.

From Coach Ed Orgeron to the players to the fans, a lot of people have been expressing concerns about the intensity level - the fire - of the Ole Miss football team in games this year.

After coming out with some abandon and emotion in the opener against Memphis, which resulted in the Rebs' only victory thus far through four games, it has appeared the Rebels have not been very motivated since.

Coach O noted that phenomena after the Wake Forest game last Saturday night and vowed to do something about it.

It's hard to change that mindset over night, but from all accounts we've been able to gather, the first three days of practice this week have produced steps in that direction.

"We're having fun out there again," said DT Brandon Jenkins. "We are flying around and hitting people. It seems more like we are playing a game than going to a 9-to-5 job. I've been loving it."

Reading between the lines, it sounds as if the doldrums and "sameness" of practices have lulled the Rebs to sleep lately. Coach O opted - rather than to sit on the status quo - to inject more of his personality into the workouts.

"You have to play football with passion. You have to coach with passion. I know how to do that," said O. "We've cranked it up some in practice and the players have responded."


Patrick Willis met with the press yesterday and couldn't wipe the grin off his face.

"You could just feel the intensity out there. Everyone was having fun, making plays, running around excited about what we were doing," P-Willie noted. "We were playing like I know we can play. In fact, I was asking myself 'where has this been?' We haven't played all year like we have practiced this week."

How do you pump up a 1-3 team who has had their heads handed to them on a platter the last three weeks and is facing a Top 10 program in the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend?

"You push the reset button, just like Coach O has done. He has told us that the first four games don't matter now. Forget them, put them out of our minds," Willis continued. "All that matters is laying everything on the line from here on out.

"And he has led the charge with his energy. Like I said, I could feel it out there. We had more energy and enthusiasm this week than we have had all year. It concerns me some that it hasn't been there before, but I can't worry about that now. All we can do is look to the future, like Coach O says."

Junior Center Corey Actis has never been exposed to full-blown energized Coach O like Willis and some of the returning players from last year have been.

"Man, this has been great. I saw another side of Coach O and the rest of the staff and it's a side I like," Actis, a JUCO transfer, noted. "We have been getting after it this week.

"I think we thought we were giving it everything we have, but it's obvious from this week's practices that we have not. We still had another level and the coaches are getting that out of us now."

Jenkins laughed when he talked about it.

"I know some people will find this hard to believe because I don't have the reputation as the hardest worker on the team, but I have really enjoyed myself this week. I can't speak for anyone else, but this week has been what I have been hoping college football would be like for a long time," he explained. "I know it's work and I know it's hard, but it's still just a game too and it's supposed to be fun. It has been this week."

The Rebels still have a lot of young players that are playing major roles on the team. They still have things to fix. There are still two or three key players out with injuries.

But it appears the right buttons are being pushed this week to get maximum effort from the team despite those apparent shortcomings.

"We have to figure out a way to transfer this energy and enthusiasm to game day, but I think we are on the verge of doing that. This week's practice has been a start in the right direction," Willis closed.

That's all the fans are asking of this team at this juncture.

Will the real Ole Miss Rebels please stand up?

If the feedback we have gotten this week is legit, expect it Saturday.

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