Originally created 11/19/96

Rebs' program mirror image of Georgia's



ATHENS, Ga. - See if any of this sounds familiar.

The coach is trying to bring the school's football program back to respectability. The team has five losses, but it has shown some recent signs of improvement. Before last week's game, the team announced a change at starting quarterback.

All of those things should ring a bell to Georgia fans, but the exact same situation is going on a little further west - at Mississippi.

The Rebels, who visit the Bulldogs on Saturday, are going through a transition themselves. Coach Tommy Tuberville was brought in last season to turn around a program that was rocked by an NCAA inquiry that led to the departures of the athletic director and the head football coach.

It's been a slow metamorphosis for the Rebels, mostly because of the 24 scholarships stripped by the NCAA. But Tuberville, who spoke at the Touchdown Club of Athens on Monday, says things are going in the right direction.

"We've got a chance to go forward with our program and I think all the players recognize that," Tuberville said. "We've laid some pretty good groundwork. Our young players are learning what it takes at this level and they're playing with a lot of emotion. We're building a program and our guys are playing as hard as they can. We haven't lost a game yet because of a lack of effort. Our problems are inconsistency and execution."

In an attempt to correct some of that, Tuberville decided last week to start junior quarterback Stewart Patridge against Louisiana State. Patridge, subbing for senior Paul Head, went a respectable 16-of-30 for 157 yards. But he was picked off once and called for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving LSU a safety.

"Stewart made some bad decisions at times, but that happens," said Tuberville, whose team lost 39-7 to the Tigers after trailing just 2-0 at halftime. "We kept him in there all four quarters because he needs the experience. He made some mistakes, but he looked real good at times. If I was grading him, I'd give him about a C.

"He'll start again against Georgia and hopefully he'll do even better. I want to get Paul in the game, too, but I don't like alternating quarterbacks. I want to give our team the best chance possible to win football games."

The Rebels (4-5, 1-5) now must get ready for a couple of teams brimming with confidence. Georgia fought off Auburn 56-49 in four overtimes on Saturday, just a few hours before Mississippi State upset Alabama 17-16.

Tuberville said Ole Miss is definitely catching the Bulldogs at the wrong time.

"Last week was good for them and bad for us," Tuberville said. "It was bad because I saw how well Georgia starting playing in the second half. Georgia played as good as I've seen them play in the last two or three years."