It was time to step up.
It was time to say, “We're #4 for a reason.”
And then, Thursday happened.
Ole Miss had the chance last night to step up and show the world they were a legit elite football team. Houston Nutt had a chance to get the critics off his back and show he can win the games he's supposed to win.
And then, the nightmare came true.
Ole Miss could only muster three first half points, and the offensive line looked terrible. Dexter McCluster only touched the football once in the first half. Snead had a completion percentage just over 30 percent. Bradley Sowell had a night to forget. The Rebels come out of a timeout in a crucial late game situation and have 12 men on the field.
The defense was quite possibly the only bright spot of the game for the Rebs, besides McCluster virtually putting the team on his back with a late rally from the Rebs.
So, the question remains, where do the Rebels go from here? They dropped out of the top 20 in the AP poll, landing at 21, and dropped to 18 in the coaches poll.
I think the first thing the Rebels do is reconfigure the offensive line. Ole Miss landed mammoth right tackle Bobbie Massie on signing day and haven't used him much yet. I think it's time to throw him in the fire. Maybe he'll get burned, but at this point, I think the Rebels don't really have a choice. Something has to give. Can the offensive line honestly look much worse than Thursday night? I don't think so.
Ole Miss also needs to put more emphasis on Dexter McCluster at running back. McCluster ran very effectively at the running back position late in the fourth quarter. He showed his elusiveness and primetime ability, but it was a little too late.
Can the dual-threat handle the workload seems to be the only question with that proposed adjustment.
Jevan Snead needs to slow down and just play his role.
Granted, he gets a bit of a pass because the offensive line for the Rebs couldn't give Snead any time to get the pass away. But that's never really been a problem with Snead, considering he had one of the top offensive tackles in the country protecting his blind side last year.
I've heard plenty of people throughout the day say, "The Rebels need to forget about Columbia and South Carolina."
To be honest, I truly disagree with that.
The players need to remember this for the whole season. Did Florida forget about Ole Miss? No. They used that game as motivation for the rest of the season.
When they're running sprints at practice, going through plays, working out, whatever it be, they need to remember they better be prepared to play every time they hit the field.
The coaches need to remember this game too. When they're preparing for the next SEC opponent, they need to figure out ways to get the ball in Dexter McCluster's hand earlier. They need to find ways to make the offense more effective and give Snead in a position to make some plays.
For the Rebels, where to go from here, is back to the basics.
The basics that gave them a position to upset Florida in the Swamp, beat LSU in Tiger Stadium, and beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
Granted, some of those players aren't at Oxford anymore, but a lot of them are.
Snead, McCluster, Bolden, Hodge, Hardy, Green, Lockett, Trahan, Walker, Lewis. Do I need to list more? Okay, Eason, Jerry, Vaughn, Laurent, Armour, Scott, Powe.
To truly fulfill you're slogan of “Unsatisfied”, you can't lay down when the pressure is on. You have to step up.