Last season, Hugh Freeze surprised SEC fans and pigskin pundits by leading what was supposed to be a downtrodden Ole Miss squad to a bowl game and seven wins. Now kicking off his second year as Rebel coach tonight, Freeze says that — for most part — he’s got fewer jitters than he had this time a year ago:
“It depends on what day it is. Today I feel like there’s less nervousness because I know more about our kids and where we are than I did at this time last year. And at the same time you realize expectations have been raised and you want to meet those, and that brings some anxiousness…
(The players are) very aware of what happened last year and the momentum that was carried on through recruiting and then spring ball, and the expectations that have risen. They understand it, they get it. I know they’re going to play with tremendous effort, we just hopefully have to make sure they’re in the right spot.”
Tonight’s game at Vanderbilt features a pair of squads that are trying to climb into the upper halves of their divisions. Someone’s odds of accomplishing that feat will take a hit on Night #1, right out of the gate. Welcome to the rough-and-tumble world of the SEC.