In 2013, Ole Miss plays the likes of Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M -- three programs ranked in the top 10. But when Donte Moncrief was asked which game he had circled on the calendar, it was this Saturday’s game at Texas. It had nothing to do with rankings or rivalries. It was all about revenge.
“They came to our house and beat us pretty bad, so we’ve got to go back and return the favor,” the junior wide receiver said.
The Longhorns certainly had their way with Ole Miss last year. They jumped out to a three-touchdown lead at the half and cruised to a 66-31 victory. The offense put up 676 yards of total offense, 326 through the air and 350 on the ground. It was Hugh Freeze’s first loss as head coach, and one that he has not since forgotten.
“I know our defense spent a lot of time (watching the game) because they really had their way with us running the football last year,” Freeze said.
The message at practice has been simple this week -- don’t dwell on last year’s game but use it as motivation instead.
“Everybody knows how we felt in the locker room after the game last year,” defensive back Cody Prewitt said. “We know the sickening feeling we had in our stomach from how we played. We don’t want to feel that again. It makes you just sick, sick at your stomach, the whole thing. We looked back at Texas film, and most of us here would say that we’re a different team right now. We hope to prove that Saturday.”
The Rebels are a different team this year. They’ve added talented freshmen from a top five recruiting class, and they rallied to beat Vanderbilt in the season opener, a win that put them on the map and kept the momentum going around the program. But they were 2-0 last year before the Longhorns had their way with them in Oxford.
“(Saturday’s game) will certainly be a measuring stick for us as to kind of where we are right now,” Freeze said.
It will also be a good measuring stick for Texas, a program trending in the opposite direction.
The Longhorns gave up over 500 yards rushing in a 40-21 loss to BYU last weekend. The embarrassing performance led to the reassignment of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and the hiring of Greg Robinson as his replacement. Rumors have now started to swirl around head coach Mack Brown and his future at Texas.
Still, despite all of the off-field distractions, Ole Miss knows not to underestimate the Longhorns. They remember what happened last year.
“We expect the same type of team from last year, if not better, to be there, and we’re expecting a really fun game for people to watch,” Prewitt said. “We want to go out there and we want to perform at the best of our ability. But we’re expecting the best team that they have.
“I think it's a great opportunity for our young kids to go into an environment outside of conference play that's a very exciting environment to play in, against a team that I know will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and extremely motivated to play,” Freeze said. “I know we'll get their best shot.”