Sep. 21—OXFORD — The No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels might be undefeated and winning games by nearly 30 points a contest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done.
The Rebels (3-0) have a bye this weekend before heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on top-ranked Alabama. Ole Miss is still working hard however, and practicing as if the game was taking place this weekend.
“Everybody practiced like we were playing Bama Saturday,” junior running back Jerrion Ealy said. “That’s how we have to practice, even though we have a bye. I still think we should practice like we’re going to go out and play. Why not get ready now so you won’t have to get ready later?”
Coming off a dominant 61-21 victory over Tulane Saturday, Ole Miss took to the practice field Tuesday after having the previous day off. Part of this week’s plan is preparing to face a team that has won six national championships under head coach Nick Saban.
But another part of the itinerary is the Rebels focusing on themselves and self-improvement. This week is not a vacation of any sort.
“We have to get better this week. It’s not an off week,” sophomore offensive lineman Jeremy James said. “It’s a week that we have to keep progressing, keep making strides.”
The game against the Crimson Tide is the SEC’s featured game of the weekend, in the coveted 2:30 p.m. time slot. It’s a big opportunity on the national stage for Ole Miss, who defeated Alabama in 2014 and 2015 but has not won against the Crimson Tide since.
This is an Ole Miss team that absolutely believes it has a chance.
“I evaluate it like this: I don’t believe there’s anybody that can beat us but ourselves,” Ealy said. “So, if we go out there, don’t beat ourselves, then we’re in good shape.”
Come a long way
Ealy was asked how different the atmosphere and excitement around the football program is right now compared to when he came into Oxford as a freshman in 2019. He admitted that it’s night and day.
“It’s a big difference from when I first got here,” Ealy said. “I will say this. Not saying that with the old coaching staff that football wasn’t important. But this football staff is a very, very different. Football is very important. And we have a team and we have the right systems in place offensively and defensively to go out showcase our ability to the best of our ability. So that’s probably the biggest difference.
And the preparation. I feel like we’re a lot better prepared now than I was my freshman year.”
Getting on the same page
Ole Miss is averaging a whopping 52.7 points per game and 298.7 yards per game rushing, which rank first and sixth in college football, respectively. A big part of that is strong play from an offensive line that has paved the way for Ealy, junior Snoop Conner and sophomore Henry Parrish Jr.
That being, things are far from perfect in the trenches. And the bye week is a perfect opportunity to fix things such as communication.
“I think we’re doing well, but there’s so much that we need to fix,” James said. “We’re not where we need to be, but we’re playing well.”
More honors for Corral
In addition to being named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday, redshirt junior quarterback Matt Corral was named the Davey O’Brien Award National Quarterback of the Week Tuesday afternoon following his historic performance against Tulane.
Corral accounted for seven total touchdowns in the Rebels’ win and became the first SEC player to ever throw three touchdowns and rush for four in the same game. Corral has 14 total touchdowns this season without a turnover and ranks fifth nationally with 1,155 total yards of offense, an average of 385 per game.