Improving discipline is Ole Miss' No. 1 goal

There's no question that there are more than a few issues surrounding Ole Miss' football team.

Hugh Freeze inherited a team that is lacking depth in key areas, is still searching for playmakers, and hasn't won an SEC game in its pst 14 tries.

But if Ole Miss is going to make any immediate progress on the football field, things need to get cleaned up off the field.

Suspensions and dismissals rocked Ole Miss' team last fall, showing an obvious lack of discipline while former coach Houston Nutt was in charge.

When Freeze was introduced to his new team back in December, he made it crystal clear to players that certain things from the past wouldn't be tolerated, and that the attitude around Ole Miss' program was going to change.

Fast-forward to April, and quarterback Barry Brunetti says he's seen a dramatic difference in the way players conduct themselves with Freeze's no-nonsense persona front and center.

"I can just see it in the guys' eyes every day," Brunetti said. "They're ready to come to practice every day, and they're ready to work every day."

Brunetti said Freeze has made improving discipline throughout the entire team priority No. 1 this spring. Sure, learning new schemes and finding the right pieces here and there are important, but Brunetti said this team won't go anywhere without getting away from its troubled past.

"We need to be more disciplined than we were last year, because we have the talent. We have talent just as good as anybody in the SEC," Brunetti said. "I see it every day. I work out with these guys every day, and I know we can go get it.

"I know we can turn it around. We just have to learn to be more disciplined."

That means not getting carried away around the bar scene. That means not getting dismissed for continuing to violate team rules. That means not having starters suspended, especially before the season finale against your rival.

Brunetti said players who have made past mistakes have been forgiven, and the team is trying to forget, but he also said that it's time to make sure silly gaffes from the past don't creep back up.

"At the same time, we have to stop that, and that comes with discipline," Brunetti said. "I really believe that when Coach Freeze came in, a lot of it stopped, and a lot of it has decreased dramatically. Guys are doing very well who were struggling last year.

"To change, you have to change yourself, and that's what Coach Freeze is saying every time he sees us."