Mid-Term Exam Today

Today's match with UAB will mark the halfway point of the regular season, mid-term exams, if you will. So far, the Rebels barely have their heads above water. Will this be their opportunity to become more buoyant? Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt made an interesting comment after practice Thursday.

"Do you know how many teams across the country would love to be 4-2?" he asked in reference to the importance of Saturday's UAB game.

That's a valid point, no doubt, and it's certainly the way the Rebels should be thinking, to a certain extent, at this juncture in time and since you can't turn back the clock for a do-over of previous games.

But, assuming the Rebs win against the visitors from the trailer-park laden state of Alabama, home of the Crypt Keeper lookalike of sportswriters, Paul Finebaum (are Finebaum and James Carville twins?) the big picture question is should the Rebels be in love with being 4-2?

The answer is no. Again with the UAB victory assumption, which is dangerous in its own right, this team should be no worse than 5-1, a statement even Nutt agrees with.

At 4-2, the mid-term "grade" can be no better than a "C," thanks to a low "A" - believe it or not, they can do better - for the defense.

So what needs to happen for the Rebels to raise their grade?

It starts today and with the quest for 4-2.

First and foremost, the offense has to get going. Has to. Not wants to, not needs to, not should, not will later. Now. Has to.

When a play is there to be made, make it. It's time to quit letting pass rushers through, missing assignments, throwing low/high, bobbling passes, running meek routes, and flagging blocks.

Good offense is 11 guys in sync carrying out their individual assignments to make a successful whole. It's time for eight on the same page and three reading from a different book to cease.

This is not an easier-said-than-done deal. The odd thing, stupefying to be exact, about the offense is that we've seen a lot of this same cast of characters perform this play before to a standing ovation. There's no question there were major losses from last year's offense, and they were more significant than anyone wanted to admit, but the nucleus of returning players is better than they have shown. I will go to my dirt nap believing that.

We've been using the word rhythm so liberally that it's lost its affect, but that's what the Rebel 'O' needs. There were stretches last year when the Ole Miss offense looked like one body with 11 heads it was so in sync. That look has to be found again.

On special teams, the Rebs have not made much happen, except for the opposition. What do both the losses have in common? Special teams blunders, uncharacteristic of a Nutt-coached team.

Those areas were attacked hard by the coaching staff this week and hopefully that will pay dividends today and in future games this season.

Houston is correct.

He's correct in saying there are a lot of teams in the country who would like to be 4-2, and he's correct in staying positive with his team by drilling in their heads there is still a lot of football to be played and they can still have a great season.

But my hope is they are not in love with being 4-2. My hope is they are upset about their body of work to the midway point of the season. They are better than that.

And they will have the opportunity to start proving it today against UAB.

In the immortal words of Chucky Mullins, "It's time."

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