Ole Miss' 2013 record won't be indicative of improvement
But even with a lot of buzz and some lofty expectations for the Rebels this fall, the second-year coach knows the difficulties that lie ahead in what is arguably the strongest division in college football (SEC West).
Ole Miss opens up on the road against Vanderbilt before playing Southeastern Missouri State at home the following week. However, the Rebels then face what looks to be the most brutal stretch of games for any team in the nation: at Texas, at Alabama, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M and vs. LSU.
"I wasn't real crazy about the schedule when it came out and I saw it," Freeze told College Football Live. "But it is the hand we're dealt. We certainly aren't going to sit around and whine about it or complain about it, but we can easily be a better team and it not be reflected in the record."
Last season, Ole Miss finished 1-5 versus the teams mentioned above, with its lone win coming at home against 3-9 Auburn. The Rebels allowed 66 points to Texas, but held their own against Alabama and fell to Texas A&M, LSU and Vanderbilt by a combined 10 points.
There were noticeable differences in both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball compared to 2011. Quarterback Bo Wallace was a significant improvement to the passing game, leading Ole Miss to the country's No. 47 overall scoring offense (31.5 ppg)--nearly double the amount of last year's average (16.1).
The defense definitely had its fair share of struggles, allowing 30 points or more in five different games. Still, there were signs of improvement throughout the year for what was a very young unit. Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche--along with other members of the 2013 class--will make an immediate impact this upcoming season.
"We have a motto I've carried most every place we've been," said Freeze. "We talk about just winning today. The only thing we have that's equal with Alabama and some others is time. What we do with our time leading up to our season opener or whichever game we play, we are controlling that. We can control what we do."
It's not likely that Ole Miss makes the colossal jump to the next level of performance (ex. a 10-win season), but we can expect the Rebels to be competitive in every game played--and a very dangerous team in 2014.
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