Keys to the Game: Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

Ole Miss at Bama 2015. Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy with Ole Miss Athletics
Ole Miss at Bama 2015. Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy with Ole Miss Athletics

How ironic would it be that we have manage to do it again by upsetting Alabama but this time in Tuscaloosa which hadn’t happened since ‘88. On top of that it moves us to No.3 in the AP poll and we just happened to be tied with none other than TCU that we’ll never forget from last season.

What a difference a year can make for a team to either whip into shape and pull together or fall apart and let the pieces remain broken. Good thing the Rebels have shown they are growing up and ready to take on the responsibility in all facets that it takes to go for the championships.

They are not allowing pieces be taken from them so they would be forced to rebuild and mend with no ability to build a strong foundation. We have seen the fruits of labor nearly four years in the making. This season the pieces seem to finally fit as perfectly as we need them to be to make a dream a reality once and for all.

Slowly the dream has been realized more and more. We so have longed for this dream as the community behind the Rebels and it is more a reality than a far fetched memory. Coach Freeze and his Rebels have managed to snatch a fading memory just in time to salvage and breathe life it to once more before it faded into the distance where many dreams often do in this conference.

Simple and gritty has seemed to work for my keys so I’m a believer of tradition mixed with superstition and I won’t stray from that. I am also happy to report I have not yet had to dispose or burn any wardrobe since we have won. For some of my readers who don’t know, I have a superstition on Gamedays that if we lose I will never wear again that outfit, accessories included. So even in my profession I still indulge in fan tendencies.

Ok back to the matter at hand: the Keys to the Game.

Continue to focus on the task at hand: Of course it’s easy to get caught up on all the possible scenarios now that we are at No. 3. The Rebels are making a strong statement to stay on top within the conference as well as nationally. But what we have seen in the past is that if this team even has a moment of lapse, it just can’t hold it together and then the Rebels go from great potential to none in a split second. This team seems to have grown and learned to focus on the task in front of them rather than what’s down the road. Focusing that far ahead is too much mental and physical stress.

Balance the defense and offense for full four quarters: This is not an easy task for any team, especially in this conference, but this is something the Rebels are going to have to maintain as best as they can if they have any chance of making it through the season unscathed. Yes, they are without Laremy and yes, they have players already out for the season but as I have said and will continue to say: the show must go on and the Rebels must play as cohesive unit no matter what they will face. Yes, they are 3-0 and making strong statements but they can’t afford for one second to regress to being a one-sided team that relies on the shoulder of its defensive line.

Swift Swagger: Well I am not really a fan of the term swagger. I heard it in enough covering Kentucky basketball but nonetheless, it has come back around in terms of Chad Kelly. We finally have our answers on why Coach Freeze decided to take a chance on him. Just goes to show that given the right circumstances and another chance, a player will go the distance for his team. The Rebels finally have that run game we have longed for. Now the key is that the Rebels must continue to emerge offensively behind Chad Kelly’s leadership. He’s swift and ready to do what it takes for the Rebels to make things happen. He’s not afraid to make plays himself which shows his lines. He is willing to go to great lengths for them as well. If the Rebels alongside Kelly can continue to mix things up with an uptempo offense along with a ground and aerial attack then it’s going to be a hell of a good season for our boys.

Continue to be hungry: The best teams that prevail in the end are the ones who remain hungry and raw in their desire for greatness. Despite the victories or the torn and tattered moments, they continue breaking through walls and finding ways to make things happen. The Rebels can’t allow their thirst to be satisfied until they reach the end or they might let their guard down too early. It’s not necessarily about the teams who have the top starting players or ranked the best; it’s the teams that never lose that urgency in playing football who are left standing in the end.

“It is not the strongest of the species…nor the most intelligent, that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.” – Darwin

This is going to be the kind of games the Rebels thrive on at night under the lights. Hotty Toddy!


Lee Ann Herring-jpgs-0601

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a HottyToddy.com contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at misskentuckyus2011@gmail.com.

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