It's no secret Ole Miss senior Defensive End Chris Bowers did not enjoy football the three prior seasons.
Now, under Coach Houston Nutt and DL Coach Tracy Rocker, the "fun" has returned to the game he's loved since he was little.
"The attitude around here is much better now. The game is fun again and things are positive again. We are being put in a position to win every game," he said, his voice trailing off.
There's a "but" waiting to come out of his mouth. . .
"It's hard to explain, but we seem to quickly lose momentum. We have to overcome that to be a really good team," Bowers said. "It's a carryover from the past years of getting down in a game and letting it affect us.
"That still haunts us some. You can tell by the sideline demeanor that we have still not shaken all of the residual feelings we have from the past. Coach (Houston) Nutt said it at practice Sunday. When something bad happens, you can't be thinking about what else bad is going to happen. You can't win that way and I think some of that creeps into our minds when something goes against us."
Bowers said it's a matter of putting the past behind them and looking forward.
"It's a state of mind we have to eliminate. We care. We want to win. We love our new coaches, but we seem to hit a wall sometimes," he continued. "We seem to let adversity affect us more than we should and we get down ourselves. We just have to stop that and expect good things to happen.
"We need to start thinking that the bad is over instead of thinking more bad is on the way."
Bowers said a prime example was in the South Carolina game.
"We let the turnovers get us down a little. It wasn't like we quit playing hard or anything, but we lost that edge for a while that we had at Florida. We lost some of that positive spirit we need to maintain," he added.
Bowers feels the open week is coming at a good time for the Rebels.
"It's right in the middle of the season. We can regroup, refresh and finish strong. We want to go to a bowl game. To do that, we have to continue what we are doing and eliminate a few mistakes. If we do, we'll reach one of our goals," Bowers stated.
Even though the Rebs are 3-3, and most on the team feel they should be much better, Bowers said the team should get stronger as the season progresses.
"By this time the past few years, there would be so many injuries and so many beat up guys. Now, we are healthy and we will be fresh for the stretch run," he explained. "It's all about the practices. The coaches don't kill us out here and we go into games fresh. We are not worn out. We are fresh and looking forward to practices and games. We are not mentally beaten down and grinding.
"At the same time, we work real hard. We have fast-paced practices and we get things done. Coach Nutt's philosophy is that you play the way you practice and he expects us to practice hard and well, but at the same time it's all geared around peaking us for the games and not peaking us for a Wednesday scrimmage in full pads."
Chris is very pleased with the way his senior season is going from a personal standpoint. He's in the DE rotation, playing on some special teams and feels like a contributor to the team's cause.
"I've got six more games and then football is over for me. I want to make the most of it and do whatever I can to help the team win. Whatever they ask me to do, I try to do it fast, do it right and do it effectively," he closed. "This team is going to get my best and we are going to get over that last hump we have to clear."
Chris Bowers -
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