SEC opener 'next game' for Cook

Jason Cook knows the importance of Ole Miss' upcoming SEC opener against Vanderbilt. But no matter what game it happened to be, the senior fullback said the Rebels want to be ready to play well.

"More important than it being an SEC game, it's the next game," Cook said. "The next game is always the most important. But as far as SEC play goes, it is very important to get off to a great start. For us it's also about playing together and putting a complete game together for 60 minutes. We really haven't done that yet."

The Rebels are 2-1 and Vanderbilt is 3-0. Both teams are looking for that complete game, but they are also looking for another win, and they'll take it however they can get it.

The game could be a springboard to a successful season for the winner. The loser will have to regroup.

"Winning an SEC game is important, but first and foremost we're coming out here to get ourselves right," Cook said after a practice this week, noting that's when teams improve. "It's like money, if you take care of your pennies, your dollars will follow. You take care of the little stuff on the practice field, the wins will come."

The wins for Ole Miss haven't come much at all lately in SEC action. The Rebels next SEC win will be their first since the last game two seasons ago when they beat Mississippi State 20-17.

Cook said whenever it happens, and he hopes it's this weekend, it will indeed be a good feeling to finally get a conference win. Many of the team members don't even know how that feels.

"It will be a place where not many on this team have been," he said. "Coach (Houston Nutt) is really good about keeping us grounded, but if we win this game this weekend, we'll roll into Florida."

That type statement, that type mentality just three games into the 2008 season, is also something new for the Rebels. The confidence level that they can be successful isn't something they just grabbed out of the air. There is a gameplan to making this program a winner again, and Cook sees it all continuing to come together.

"It's different," he said of the team's approach this season. "Coach talks about confidence. Coaches are confident in us. Players are confident in the coaches. For the first time in a long time that's the case, and it's important for us."

Important because otherwise it is too difficult to win games in the SEC. That same-page stuff players and coaches talk about, it's real.

"It's tough being on 22 different pages going into a game," Cook said. "It's great to be on one page as a team this year. It's a feeling I wish I could describe, but unfortunately I can't. But it's a good feeling."

Kind of like the feeling they'll likely get when that initial SEC win comes their way for the first time in nearly two years. The Rebels aren't sure how that will feel. But if it happens to be this weekend, they're pretty sure they'll like it.


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