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September 10, 2012
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze previews the Rebels' Saturday date with Texas.
OXFORD, Miss. -- Hugh Freeze watched film from Ole Miss' 2011 season when he took over in Oxford following the Rebels' disastrous campaign.
In other words, Freeze couldn't help but notice the team he inherited had been blown out at home by Alabama and LSU and lost in convincing fashion at Vanderbilt and at Mississippi State.
Freeze noticed the effort in those games "was not the anticipation of the administration or what the fan base desired."
Enter No. 14 Texas (2-0, with wins over Wyoming and New Mexico), which will invade Vaught-Hemingway Stadium to face Ole Miss (2-0) at 8:15 p.m. Saturday (ESPN). Freeze's message to the many of the same players who suffered through those defeats a year ago: "Play very passionate football for 60 minutes. I can't control what that scoreboard says. I can't control our lack of depth right now. I can't control that maybe we're not as talented at some spots. But I do feel responsible that they better play hard."
Several Rebels said Monday Freeze needn't worry about effort. Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche said he and his teammates are getting much more love on campus than they did last year.
"That's what we want to keep going on," Nkemdiche said. "There are still people saying we've only played (Central Arkansas) and UTEP. There are a couple of doubters, but mostly, it's all support. People believe in us. This is a chance for us to show people this is a completely different team and Ole Miss football is alive."
"This is a game where we find out who we really are," offensive tackle Emmanuel McCray said. "I know we're going to compete hard for four quarters. You can feel it more now that everybody is bought in. We don't feel we're out of the game, no matter if adversity has hit us or if everything's not going perfect. I think we'll fight in any circumstances we're in."
WALLACE STAYING HUMBLE: Freeze joked Monday that while quarterback Bo Wallace is likely enjoying some of the benefits of his newfound popularity on campus, he doesn't need the sophomore to get carried away with his celebrity.
"The last thing we want is him thinking he's a rock star, I assure you." Freeze said, smiling. "He doesn't need any more push to go that route. He actually is a very humble kid, but he's all boy and he can certainly find himself in some situations, I'm sure, that all young men can find themselves in. I hope he's getting it that to be the quarterback at Ole Miss carries with it that he's not a normal kid from Giles County, Tenn., anymore."
Freeze said Monday Wallace will start against Texas, but he added the Rebels will always have a package ready for Barry Brunetti.
"I think he adds something of value to this football team," Freeze said. "We're going to try our best to have him ready. It's not so much that Barry hasn't performed. It's just that Bo's been pretty solid now."
'HORNS ARE SPECIAL: Freeze said he noticed Texas' special teams during film study Sunday night.
"I think, No. 1, anytime you play a team that has the team speed they have, their special teams are going to be good," Freeze said. "The better the team speed, the better the special teams are, and they've got great team speed."
REBEL RUMBLINGS: Wide receiver Collins Moore (labrum) "could play right now," Freeze said Monday, but added he is taking several things in consideration before making a decision regarding surgery and/or a medical redshirt. Freeze said freshman safety Trae Elston is "going to be a special player," adding that he doesn't want to put "any crazy expectations on him at this point." Freeze said he's noticed that both Texas and Ole Miss are playing a lot of young players. There is, however, a difference. Our kids have put their heart and soul into it and they're playing with great effort. We're playing a lot of young kids. Texas is too. Theirs look a little different."
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