For Rebel senior WR Shay Hodge, success is not about his stats.
Even though he's currently ranked fourth in the league in receptions per game with 4.33 catches per outing (he has 26 through 6 games) and third in the league in receiving yards per game averaging 64.8, Shay would trade it all for an unblemished team record and for the Rebel offense as a whole to produce more consistently.
He got a welcomed whiff of that against UAB last Saturday when the Rebel offense ran up 501 yards and scored six offensive TDs - Jesse Grandy had the other score on the opening kickoff return.
"It felt real good to have our whole offense clicking for a long stretch in the game last Saturday," reflected Hodge. "It was good to see our offensive line get going, good to see Jevan (Snead) get going, good to see our backs and young guys get going.
"We've been struggling to get into a rhythm and we found some of that against UAB. I think that will put us on the right track, but now we have to do it against an SEC team and keep going with it. I think we will."
Hodge said two things have stood between the Rebel offense and big results - execution and gaining some momentum.
"It's all about executing. The plays have been there to be made, but we were breaking down in too many areas to gain any momentum. We had a lot of momentum killers in the previous games," he noted. "And when you can't get any momentum going, and things just keep going wrong, you can start to lose your confidence.
"In my four years of playing on this level, one thing I have learned for sure, you better hit that field with confidence because the guys across the field from you are going to have it nine out of 10 times. When you lose your confidence in this league, someone is always ready to pounce and keep you down."
Being a veteran, Shay said he has learned to move on to the next play after a mistake, but it's taken some of the younger players time to come to grips with that mindset.
"I went through it early in my career - where my confidence was shaken when I would mess up," he continued, "but you can't let that bother you. That's true for every position.
"All you can do as a veteran is to tell them to forget it and come back stronger, but that's easier said than done when you are a younger player or don't have a lot of experience. It's even hard for the veterans, but through experience we learn to put it behind us and move on."
Hodge has learned to roll with the punches in more ways than one.
"I used to get upset when I wasn't getting the ball much, but you learn that's just part of the game," he explained. "Defenses in this league are going to take things away that you like to do and there are games where you just aren't going to get the ball as much as you want.
"Like this year Dexter (McCluster) is getting extra attention when he's split out wide. Defenses are taking away some of his favorite routes, but he's not frustrated. He knows how it works and he is like me, he just wants to win. I know Markeith (Summers) and Lionel (Breaux) want the ball more, but they have the best attitudes I have ever seen about that. They just keep working to get better and to get open and they never say anything about not getting the ball or anything like that."
Shay is a big fan of Summers and Breaux.
"First, they work hard and are unselfish. Second, they are both very talented. Markeith can be a star and I think will start getting more deep balls soon," Hodge assessed. "Lionel is solid. He can do anything out there and play any position. He's fast and has good hands."
The two true freshman wideouts who are playing - Pat Patterson and Jesse Grandy - have also caught Shay's eye in a positive fashion.
"Jesse is so smooth. He doesn't look like he's running real fast, but he's leaving guys behind. He's quick and he's tough," noted Shay. "All he needs to do is keep perfecting his receiving skills and he will be hard to handle.
"Pat has it all. He's a natural talent. He's big, strong and he's one of those guys who just has a knack for catching the ball wherever it's thrown. He has huge, strong hands. It's just a matter of time before he takes over and starts setting records around here."
Shay equates offensive football to shooting a basketball, something he was very good at in high school.
"We know UAB didn't have a great defense and we are going to be facing much better defenses in the conference, but offense is like shooting a basketball - when you are hot, you are hot," he added. "It doesn't matter who is guarding you or who you are playing. If your stroke is on, you are going to score.
"Right now, Jevan is coming out of the UAB game hot, like late last year, when he was putting passes in windows I thought there was no way he could squeeze them in there. I believe he's going to stay hot now and it won't matter who we are playing. Like I said, when you are hot, you are hot."
Shay is coming down the stretch run of his Ole Miss career and he's excited about the prospects of the team.
"I like where we are right now. We have gained some confidence, we are focused and we have the right attitude to finish this season out strong," he closed. "It's up to us to get it done."
Shay Hodge -
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