The Buffaloes, who pushed the Bulldogs to the brink in a 14-13 loss, had the look and feel of a team about to pull it together. The Rebels, meanwhile, look ready only to crumble.
Ole Miss is 1-3 under second-year coach Ed Orgeron. Its only victory came in the season-opener against Memphis, and the Rebels lost last week to a Wake Forest team than ran the ball on 53 of 58 plays.
Cracks in the insular Ole Miss fan base have begun to show. Earlier this week, former Rebel coach Billy Brewer, now the host of the team’s postgame call-in show, took several shots at Orgeron in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“If you see the facilities and things and what they’ve done to this campus and the money they’ve spent, there should be no way that anybody – I don’t care if he’s out of kindergarten – shouldn’t win at least five or six ballgames here,” Brewer told the newspaper. “It’s like daylight and dark between these two coaches with (former coach) David Cutcliffe and this new guy here. There is no comparison. David was just a good guy. I just don’t know about this fellow.”
Orgeron brushed off the criticism.
“We’re focused in on what we have to get done. We do not read the newspapers,” he said. “We do not say anything about anybody else. We’re really excited about the direction we’re going here. We’re recruiting really well, and we’re working really hard. What other people say really doesn’t bother us.”
However, the ugly reality of the Rebels’ performance is something Orgeron can’t ignore. Quarterback Brett Schaeffer, who was given the starting job the day he signed with the team, has the lowest passer efficiency rating in the SEC (89.13). Transfer tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn’t made an impact since rushing for 127 yards in the first game of the year.
“I’m a little disappointed that we’re not getting what we got out of BenJarvus and Brett what we got out of them the first game,” Orgeron said.
On the other side of the ball, Ole Miss is 100th nationally in rushing defense and 101st nationally in scoring defense. After last week’s 27-3 loss to the Demon Deacons, in which Ole Miss rushed for 26 yards, Orgeron blasted his team for not playing with enough emotion.
“I thought we felt good as a team, thought we came out fired up, I really don’t know (what the problem is),” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “If I knew, I’d be the coach and not a player.”
Georgia quarterback Blake Barnes grew up 70 miles from Oxford, Miss., and was recruited heavily by the Rebels. He’s surprised, he said, by the current state of the program.
“When I was in high school, Ole Miss had great talent, they still have great talent, but they were bringing in a lot of in-state kids and having a lot of success and looked like a program that was back on the rise. For whatever reason it has fallen off. I guess that happens, especially when you have coaching changes like that, but I am surprised because I know the talent they have.”
Rebel fans are no less passionate despite the team’s recent lack of tradition, Barnes said.
“People live and die off of it,” he said. “They definitely expect to have winning teams and they expect success so I’m sure they are disappointed.”
Rushing 57th 135.8 ypg
Rushing defense 100th 173.5 ypg allowed
Passing 98th 147.0 ypg
Passing defense 76th 202.8 ypg allowed
Scoring 107th 13 ppg
Scoring defense 101st 29.3 ppg allowed