As if a nationally televised game against the Texas Longhorns wasn’t a hard enough task. Ole Miss Rebels Head Coach Hugh Freeze recently learned that one of his key backup defensive backs, Trae Elston, has been suspended for this Saturday’s game versus the Longhorns.
Elston learned that on late Monday night, the SEC had reviewed the hit and declared it in violation of rules 9-1-3 and 9-1-4. Since I’m sure there are more than a few readers out there who aren’t fully up to date with that particular section of the rulebook, I’ll explain. It basically means you can’t initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.
The result of the SEC declaring that violation of rules resulted in Elston being suspended for one game. It just so happens that game is on a Saturday night, against #14 Texas at home, on the most popular sports channel in the world.
That’s a tough blow for both Elston and the Rebels. The poor kid was only two games out of his high school career and about to play in the biggest game of his life on the biggest stage of his life. The poor Rebels will need all hands on deck to pull out a ‘W’ against the ‘Horns.
I’ve watched the hit a few times and it’s awfully close. Personally, it looked like he didn’t hit the head or the neck, but hit the chest. After all, the refs never even blew the whistle on that hit in the game. But, it’s certainly not up to me. I merely have an opinion that doesn’t change anything.
This will be a big loss for the Rebels, however. Elston was one of the highlights of the Rebels 2012 class. Elston, from Oxford, Ala. (now playing in Oxford, Miss.), played in the prestigious Under Armour All American Game, and chose the Rebels over Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Southern Cal.
Elston was playing very well throughout camp and the first two games, and a bigger role was on the way for him. Even though he had been a backup thus far in the season, he was getting a lot of snaps, especially in nickel and dime packages.
The Rebels are off to a good start for first year head man Freeze and are 2-0 for only the second time in the last 10 seasons. The Longhorns have looked predictably strong, but certainly have some weaknesses.
If this game was on the road for the Rebels, they wouldn’t have a chance. But because it is in Oxford, and it’s a night game (I wonder how much bourbon, in liquid ounces, will be consumed in the Grove that day?), there is a chance, however small.
Ole Miss has pulled some stunners before in Vaught Hemingway Stadium. It’s almost 10 years exactly since Ole Miss stunned #6 Florida in Oxford, not to be confused with the Rebels victory over #4 Florida at the Swamp in ’08.
In the end, it’s doubtful that Elston sitting on the sidelines will have an actual impact on the final score. But then again, who knows how a young and talented athlete like Elston could have responded to playing the biggest game of his life, on the biggest stage? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.