COLUMN: Less than a week after talking about what a win against No. 14 Texas would do for the Ole Miss program, freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche was focused on staying together as a team.
That’s what a 66-31 beating will do for even the most confident team let alone one that has had two trying seasons recently. But unlike last season, when players pointed fingers or at least stopped believing in each other, Nkemdiche, and the teammates that joined him at the late night post-game press conference, were already looking ahead to Tulane.
“We beat ourselves and it’s a learning experience and it’s going to be great to see how the team is going to bounce back next week and how we’re going to attack next week’s practices and workouts,” Nkemdiche said. “I still feel like we’re a family and a strong team and we’re going to learn from this big time. We came in at halftime and said lets give it our all and keep working. I don’t think anybody is blaming anybody, we just feel that everybody has to take it personal and get better and do their jobs.”
Nkemdiche said it was a “nightmare” to not be able to slow Texas’ offense but the fight was still there at the end of the game.
“It was hard and tough not to throw in the towel but we couldn’t because we’re playing for each other and we’re just going to build off each other,” Nkemdiche said. “We’re going to keep playing no matter what. We’re going to go to New Orleans and try and get a W. Once the clock hit zero, the (Texas) game was over with. We got to put it behind us and go to the next team.”
Junior rover Charles Sawyer said he was surprised that Texas did as well on the long throws down the field.
“We’re a better defensive secondary than that so I was very surprised,” Sawyer said. “We were in position to make the plays and their team made them and we didn’t. It’s as simple as that.”
Sawyer added Wommack came in and told the defense that the team can’t separate and has to stay together.
“He said that he can look us all in the eye and that he loves us. He said that’s what you can’t do, you can’t separate. This loss is either going to make a team separate or make a team so much closer that they won’t lose like that again,” Sawyer said. “We’ve got to come to work, there’s no talking. You can talk all you want, but you got to come to work and do it. Nobody quit, nobody gave up, nobody laid down and said we were going to lose anyway. That’s a difference from last year. Everything they got was earned instead of guys not giving great effort.”
Wommack was clearly upset about the Saturday’s but reiterated things can be fixed, starting with the Tulane game.
“I think we’ll find out a lot about ourselves. All we have is each other and this coaching staff believe in these guys and these guys believe in us and I promise you that we’re going to get better as the season goes on,” Wommack said. “We don’t have the greatest talent in the world but we can play a whole lot better than what we played. We have to do the little things and we’ve tried to coach over and over. I know that tonight the talent was a different level but I thought (Texas) took advantage of that tonight.” (September 17, 2012, Page 1B)