Last season, Ole Miss lost in stunning fashion against Auburn, which ended any hopes of winning the SEC West and making the College Football Playoff, and the Rebels never really responded.
Following this past Saturday’s devastating loss against Arkansas in overtime, it’s fair to question Ole Miss’ mindset going forward.
The Rebels need help to get back in a position to win the SEC West. Any outside shot of getting back in the Playoff conversation flew out the door when Razorbacks quarterback Brandon Allen scored the game-winning 2-point conversion.
So, how will Ole Miss respond?
“The disappointments are the same,” coach Hugh Freeze said in Wednesday’s SEC teleconference about comparing the Arkansas game with the Auburn loss last season. “That one was a bit different. This one here, you could argue that either team deserved to win the game, and certainly, we thought we had won it twice in overtime. I think this one’s a bit easier to bounce back from, but they are similar.”
Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram was actually surprised about how the players responded when they got together Sunday.
“We responded a lot better than I thought,” Engram told Neal McCready of RebelGrove.com. “The locker room Sunday, I was expecting a lot of down heads and kind of low energy and just a lot of gut-wrenching feelings, but we came in with a lot of energy. It’s crazy the things that happen and how unfortunate that game was. We fought for each other, and we still have each other. We’re up here for the love of each other. We prepare for each other. We lose together. We hurt together.”
Engram, along with many other players in Ole Miss’ junior class, has dreams of playing in the NFL, and decision time is quickly approaching.
Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell are all projected to be top-10 draft picks if they declare, and they’re aware that a football career can end on any play. Guys like Engram, defensive back Tony Conner and quarterback Chad Kelly will also have an NFL draft decision to make, but those players still have a lot to prove.
Tunsil, Nkemdiche and Treadwell wouldn’t see their stock drop much over these last few weeks unless an injury occurred, but Treadwell told reporters that’s not a concern for him.
“This team is built around playing with intensity, playing with passion and having fun with each other and loving on each other,” Treadwell said to Ben Garrett of the Ole Miss Spirit. “We’ll go out and attack LSU just like we attack any other team and try to win. We’ll play to win. If the chips fall our way, we’ll be appreciative of that, and we’ll just make the most of the opportunities we’re given.
“I love my guys just as much as I love myself. You’ve got to play for your brothers. We’re in this together. We win together, we lose together. I told the coaches I’m going to do my best this whole season and push these guys to be their best every day. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”