If Ole Miss fans thought 2010′s 4-8 season was bad, then 2011 was a nightmare. It opened with a loss at BYU in one of the uglier games of the season. Ole Miss then beat Southern Illinois before being thumped by Vandy 30-7 and beaten by Georgia 27-13 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score. Ole Miss then went on the road to beat Fresno State before dropping their last seven games including games against Louisiana Tech and rival Mississippi State. Ole Miss would finish the season 2-10 and 0-8 in the SEC. Houston Nutt didn’t make it to the finish line and Ole Miss now turns the reigns over to Hugh Freeze. We caught up with the guys from Red Cup Rebellion to get their take on the 2011 season and take a brief glimpse into 2012.
CFBZ: Anytime a coach gets fired before the season is up it’s bad news. What was the turning point of the Houston Nutt era?
RCR: The Jacksonville State loss at the beginning of the 2010 season. Due to his contract extension and first two years of success, we couldn’t fire him right away, but he was certainly on borrowed time from then on out barring some miraculous wins.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
RCR: I drank a lot during this season, for very obvious reasons, so I can’t say that I have many memories of it. Joking aside though, the best memory I’ll have of this season was the partying before and after the LSU game. Houston Nutt was fired at that point, so fans weren’t expecting a win. We were just there to be there and “win the party” as we so often like to say at Ole Miss. Fans weren’t at all expecting or even hoping for a win over LSU, but people were excited about the prospect of a new head coach and future football successes. It was an unexpectedly good time in an unusually hopeful atmosphere. As far as bad memories go, there are too much for me to even begin to choose one particularly worthy of mention.
CFBZ: Hugh Freeze won the Press Conference. How do you feel about the hire?
RCR: At first I was upset by the hire because I, like a lot of Ole Miss fans, wanted a homerun of a hire. We wanted Mike Leach or Rich Rodriguez – something people would notice and talk about. But, after accepting the fact that our program is in a position that few big-name coaches would readily walk into, I’m alright with the hire. Freeze is a guy that wants this job, something which means a lot to many of us Rebel fans.
I think that he, like any coach, will be able to win if he can recruit well and prepare his team for the rigors of an SEC schedule. I know that’s a very simple take on it, but those are the two things that all successful coaches have in common. Freeze has shown that he can recruit (he was Ole Miss’ recruiting coordinator under Ed Orgeron and saw significant success in that role) and has won at every level he has coached, so there’s reason to believe that he’s got potential to win if he’s given enough time and sees some good fortune along the way.
CFBZ: Looking forward to next year, Freeze runs a faster paced offense. Do the Rebels have a QB who can run that attack or will they have to bring in someone new to run the system?
RCR: Barry Brunetti is a quick-footed quarterback who is ideal for Freeze’s offense. Quick background: Brunetti is from Memphis, Tennessee, and was recruited heavily by Ole Miss, among others, out of high school. He wound up signing with West Virginia, before transferring to Ole Miss after his freshman year in Morgantown. After he left WVU and before ending up at Ole Miss, though, he was heavily courted by Freeze at Arkansas State. This is the guy that Freeze wants in that role.
CFBZ: Which players are you most looking forward to watching next year?
RCR: I’ll give you one on offense and one on defense. On offense, I’m looking forward to Donte Moncrief. He had a pretty productive true freshman season with 454 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns and should, in Freeze’s offense, get plenty of opportunities to score.
On defense, I’m much looking forward to the return of linebacker DT Shackelford. Arguably Ole Miss’ best defensive player, Shackelford missed last season with an ACL injury. He’s a big guy with good athleticism and a fantastic motor. He’s also, per all accounts, a great student and even greater person; he really is a player that Ole Miss fans really want to see succeed.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
ACC- Miami Hurricanes
Big Ten- Minnesota Golden Gophers
Pac-12- Oregon State Beavers
SEC- Kentucky Wildcats