Everyone has probably seen pictures of bears, but meeting them for real, in the wild, is an entirely different story. That's a lesson I learned while hiking in the north Georgia mountains a few years back. When I came up on that black hunk of fur and muscle, I immediately experienced two emotions - fright and flight.
While fighting back the adrenaline rush, I calmly overcame my urge to run. I remembered reading that running only makes the bear chase you so we stood still. And my experience ended safely and uneventful as the black bear nonchalantly turned and lumbered away.
Black bears are usually afraid of people although they can become very aggressive in order to protect their young or in response to being hunted. The most dangerous time to encounter the four legged beast is when he has been wounded or feels cornered.
That's exactly the situation the Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears find themselves in entering their eighth game of the season. The Rebel Bears opened 2011 with a 14- 13 loss to the BYU Cougars and things have only gotten worse as injuries have taken their toll.
Last weekend came the real heartbreaker as Ole Miss had rival Arkansas on the ropes early for a 17-0 lead only to see the Hogs comeback and escape the Bear's den with a 29-24 victory. Auburn Coach Gene Chizik called the Rebel Bears the best 2-5 team in the country. Chizik said, "They are a play or two away from being 5-2."
While no one picked Ole Miss to finish at the top of the SEC in the preseason, the Rebel Bears do have speed and talent.
Against Arkansas, Team Captain/Safety Damien Jackson had 11 tackles while Quarterback Randall Mackey starting his third game, had a 30 yard touchdown run and was 18-of-30 passing for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman receiver Donte Moncrief caught the two touchdowns and leads the team with 304 receiving yards and four touchdowns for the season. Moncrief is 6', 2" - 200lbs. and has the speed to beat opponents downfield for big gains. They gave No. 10 Arkansas all it could handle.
Yet, there have been some predictions of Auburn having an easy time with Ole Miss. That simply won't be the case. Any team that can come within a bear's whisker of defeating the SEC's no.1 passing team is no gimme.
Factor in the Tigers are beaten and bruised from arguably their toughest October stretch in over 25 years and will be playing against a wounded foe who has nothing to lose ... and you have a recipe for a close hard fought game. Auburn can't afford not to take these Bears seriously.
I have to believe they are like a wounded and fearless animal that feels cornered. They will play with 100% effort and come out swinging and clawing like bears.
Anyone being attacked by a bear has to fight back with whatever weapon is available. The question for Auburn is: which weapon will work best? Dyer, Blake, McCalebb? Or maybe Lemonier, Eguae, or Eltoro?
I believe it will take all the Tigers weapons and their best coaching to get the job done. After all the Rebel Black Bears enter Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday night wounded and cornered; and ...
"A wounded bear is dangerous."