Last season when the Rebels showed up in Tuscaloosa, no one gave them much of a chance. To the surprise of many, Ole Miss showed up and played hard against a team Hugh Freeze calls “the gold standard” of college football.
The Rebels, for however brief it may have been, held a lead on the Crimson Tide. The Rebel defense did not back down from the strong rushing attack from Alabama. In fact, they made sure to get as many big hits in as possible to show the Tide they were there to play and they were not afraid.
Junior safety Cody Prewitt was responsible for a few of those big hits, most notably a hit on Darius Hanks over the middle of the field on a third down early in the game that really set the tone of the contest.
“Last year, I felt like we really went out there and played them and out-physicalled them a little bit,” Prewitt said on Monday.
This season, the approach to the game is a bit different.
Ole Miss, ranked as the No. 21 team in the country, is being talked about as a team that could give Alabama a test. This year, as if last season’s game did not tell enough, will be different because the Rebels aren’t walking quietly into the lair of the two-time defending national champions.
“We really loved the environment that we were playing in last year,” Prewitt said. “Last year, things weren’t going our way as much as it is this year.
“I think it’s really going to be a throw down.”
Prewitt isn’t worried much about how the Tide offense has looked against the likes of Virginia Tech and Colorado State. Instead, he expects much more from the Alabama offense on Saturday night.
“They were making mistakes that Alabama doesn’t normally doesn’t make,” Prewitt said. “They had players not playing that will be playing against us. We’re expecting the best Alabama team to be out there. That’s what we want.”
According to Prewitt, despite the performance quarterback A.J. McCarron has put on this season, stopping the run will be the key to a Rebel victory on Saturday night.
“To have a chance in this game, we have to stop the run and get them out of their element and make them pass more,” Prewitt said.
One thing the Rebels do have coming into this game that they lacked last season is confidence. However, Prewitt insists that it is a healthy confidence.
“We’ve had two games last year that we lost, that we won this year,” Prewitt said. “We’re really confident, and I don’t think it’s an overconfidence. It’s a good, humble confidence.”
Not only will the Rebels go into Tuscaloosa completely different in 2013, but so will Prewitt. Over the past year, he has grown into somewhat of an emotional leader for the Rebels on the defensive side of the ball, as they really feed off of his emotion and intensity.
“I guess I just try to lead by example,” he said. “Sometimes, we need to be re-focused a little bit, and I feel like I can take over that role, and I have enjoyed doing so.
“We needed a playmaker, a consistent playmaker. We do need a playmaker. I think that’s one thing we may have lacked last year. I really want to try and take over that role as well.”
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