During senior Fullback Jason Cook's Ole Miss career, by November in the past four seasons, football was not a whole lot of fun.
One, the Rebels' season, for all intents and purposes was, except for the pride thing, all but over without a lot to play for.
"Coach Nutt has been saying from the jump that people always remember you for your November performances," Cook began. "As a senior, we have a sense of urgency about us. We know two wins will make us bowl eligible, but we are developing a feeling that we can win out. There are four games left in my college career and I plan on making the most of them to help get us to a bowl.
"This is the first time since I have been here that guys are eager and really pursuing that goal. We are hungry for it. We are still excited about football this deep in the season for the first time in our careers. The past few years, we've been playing for pride and for each other. Now, we are playing for a purpose and a goal. A man with a purpose and who is focused on one thing is a dangerous man."
Two, he - and a lot of members of the team - were usually "beat up" by the time the stretch run rolled around.
"I have never, never been this healthy going into November - ever, ever. It's never happened," Cook said. "When you have a head coach who cares about you and wants to conserve your body so you play faster on Saturdays, you are more willing to go out there and play 100% because you are physically able to. As a team, we are pretty healthy and that's going to help us have a November to remember."
Cook has seen the Rebels have better success on the road than at home this season. He'd like to help change that against Auburn.
"Coach Nutt made a good point. He said it seems we feed off the negativity of the opposing crowds and I think that's true," he stated. "It's something we start feeling when the captains come out for the coin toss. Folks swaying in unison and hollering at us - we just kind of feed off that negative energy. It inspires and motivates us."
Now the Rebels have to figure out a way to harness that energy when at home, but how?
"That's a great question and something we have to figure out," Cook continued. "It has to start with ownership and us taking pride in playing at home in front of people who support us. These people have our backs and we need to have theirs."
But on the other hand, Cook said Rebels fans could find a way to do more too.
"Our fans need to get into the game more too," he stated. "In my years here, we have had two groups of fans. We have fans who are here for the game and are into it and then we have fans who are in it for the social atmosphere and the cocktail party.
"That is not the reason we are not winning home games. We are the ones out there making plays or not making them and sweating and bleeding, but it means a lot when your fans are behind you the entire time, screaming for you every play, as opposed to just enjoying themselves."
Cook said if he had a wish for this Saturday against Auburn it would be to have a packed house of Rebels with the same "attitude" of the Rebel fans who religiously go on the road with the team.
"I can't tell you how much those road warriors pump us up and give us energy. When we see those few thousands who travel with us have no voice at the end of the games, you know they have your back," Jason explained, "and we've got their backs. It's an incredible feeling, one we really don't feel as much at home. Maybe we will this Saturday. We need it, but ultimately, we have to go out there and win it and that's what we intend to do."
Jason Cook -
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