Ole Miss (4-1, 2-1 SEC) did not play its best game on Saturday against Florida (5-0, 3-0), and left the Swamp on the wrong side of a 38-10 score.
Following the Rebels’ win over Alabama, many were quick to name Ole Miss as an elite program. After this weekend, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was just as quick to clarify his the state of his team during his weekly Monday press conference.
“We’re not elite right now,” Freeze said. “Do we have potential to be much better than we played the other night? I think we’ve shown that we do. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do. It was evident the other night that obviously we weren’t prepared to play our best.
“We got exposed in some places in the secondary that we’ve got to continue to work on improving and maybe moving some people around. And offensively we’ve got to find a way when you’re on the road, when you’re having to play in that type of environment in this league, you have to find a way to get success early.”
After riding high and moving up to No. 3 in the AP poll after winning on the road against Alabama, Ole Miss could not repeat the performance against a reenergized Florida squad.
“Obviously a disappointing night down in Florida,” Freeze said. “We certainly did not play our best. It’s a great lesson for us.”
Florida’s defense is among the best in the nation, and Freeze noted that the Gators defensive line presented problems on Saturday.
“This was a different defensive front, that probably gives us a bit more of a challenge,” Freeze said, alluding to the differences between Florida and Alabama. “They’re a lot like our guys: extremely quick-twitch. The environment gave them a distinct advantage. The get-off that they had was very difficult. … We struggled in that environment with their quickness.”
Ole Miss is hoping some of the offensive line problems can be remedied by the return of star tackle Laremy Tunsil, who has yet to play this season due to an ongoing NCAA into whether he violated amateurism rules. Freeze said that he was hopeful that they may hear a final word on Tunsil sometime later this week.
The loss certainly makes the road a little tougher for Ole Miss moving forward, but Freeze is confident that his team will respond.
“I believe that this team will respond, no question,” Freeze said. “And we had the ability to beat one of the best teams in the country. I can’t control injuries… but everyone has something like that. So you’ve got to continue to build the depth of your program to where you can be elite when those happen. I’m confident, can’t wait to go to work and get them back on the practice field and get better and get ready for this Saturday.”