Hugh Freeze bothered by students leaving early, hopes they ‘reconsider’

Published 5:06 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

If the student section at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium during Ole Miss’ game against Auburn was any indication, most don’t believe the Rebels can turn things around this season.

Auburn won Saturday’s game 40-29 to hand Ole Miss its third straight loss in a season that’s been defined by a one-dimensional offense and a broken defense, but the Rebels took a 29-27 lead into the fourth quarter and weren’t out of it until Chad Kelly threw an interception the Tigers eventually turned into a touchdown that gave them that 11-point lead with 5:58 left.

The school announced an attendance of 65,927, the second-largest crowd in school history, but hordes of students were seen leaving the stadium early in the fourth quarter with some exiting well before that. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Monday he was appreciative of the ones that hung around while seeing others leave in the midst of a back-and-forth game didn’t sit well.

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“Does it bother me that some seats are empty at an SEC Western Division game with a one-point halftime game when you come out? It does,” Freeze said. “I would hope that they would stay for that, and many do. I wish the ones that choose to leave will certainly reconsider it because we need their support. We need that place to be difficult and they’re probably the ones that can make it the most difficult.”

Freeze is opening the team’s practice Tuesday for any students that want to attend. Ole Miss’ goal this season has been reduced to making a bowl game with the Rebels needing to win three of their final four games starting Saturday against Georgia Southern (11 a.m., ESPNU), and Freeze said he wants to emphasize that his team needs all the help it can get in its final two homes games.

“We have a great student body that I care for, and if there is something we can do to help make that happen, I will gladly consider it,” Freeze said. “One of the things is Tuesday, getting to see those people here and encouraging them to let’s do this together. We have two remaining home games. Let’s make it difficult.”