Coaches say it all the time.
"Winning breeds winning."
This season for the Ole Miss Rebels, it was a one-step-at-a-time proposition.
The 2008 squad had to learn how to win and how to build on wins and how to continue winning.
They did that early with a couple of good wins, including defeating Florida in Gainesville, and then it all came together by ending the season with five straight victories that propelled them into the Cotton Bowl against Texas Tech.
Ole Miss junior Center Daverin Geralds said nobody on the team had any idea what was in store for them when they headed to Dallas, but it's been everything, and more, than they expected.
"I don't know what else anyone could do for us. I have not been able to stop smiling since we got those high def TVs back in Oxford," he said. "I thought that might be a highlight of the bowl, but it didn't scratch the surface to what we have experienced in Dallas.
"We've had a lot of fun and have been treated like kings. I guess that's what winning does for you."
There was motivation to go from losing to winning. There was a great reward for having pulled that off.
But what of the residuals from this year?
"Once you have tasted something like this, you want more. Even though this is great, we want to do this again, but even shoot for something higher," Geralds noted. "There is no way we are going back to the way things were, with our season being over in early December and having to live another year as losers."
It's all about motivation.
"We've tasted the carrot at the end of the stick that's been dangling out there. Now we want to eat the whole thing," he explained. "We look forward to playing in another big-time game like this and I can tell you we will do whatever we have to in order to get back to something like this.
"Coaches preach it, and you don't really know until you live it, but winning really is contagious. Winning really does change everything. Winning is what it's all about. Having tasted losing and winning, I can tell you there is no comparison. Losing is dreadful."
While this has been one of those years the Rebs will cherish and remember, Geralds is well aware it's not over yet and the Rebels have a major challenge facing them in Texas Tech.
"Their defense plays not to give up the big play, so our goal will be to keep possession of the ball as long as we can," he noted. "We want to keep our defense off the field, execute and score after long, time-consuming drives.
"A lot of people talk about the story line of the game being their offense against our defense, but I think it's just the opposite. Their offense can't do much if they don't have the ball."
The Rebels have not played since the Egg Bowl massacre of MSU the day after Thanksgiving, but he think he and his teammates will be sharp.
"It's been a while since we have played, but Coach (Houston) Nutt has done a great job of keeping us sharp and tuned in," Geralds said. "I don't think us not being sharp will be a problem.
"I think the first series will knock whatever rust we have off and then we'll be ready to roll. There may be a slight adjustment back to game speed, but I think we'll be OK."
Geralds said the Rebs want to make it six wins in a row and head into the 2009 season with a win streak going.
"Now that we know how to win, and now that we have actually won, we see no reason to stop," he closed.
As coaches say, winning breeds winning.
Daverin Geralds -
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