Day After Observations, the Saturday night edition. Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 41-20 win over Auburn and the end of the SEC losing streak which is halted at 16 games.
Oh the things you can do with a morning kick.
Just got the kitchen cleaned up. Settle in here and watching South Carolina-LSU thinking someone at South Carolina needs to be suspended for those uniforms.
About the game. It was great to see the opposite of the end of the emotional spectrum for players and coaches who have worked hard and have come close.
As I was leaving the media lot I saw players walking by with girl friends looking very relaxed much unlike a week ago when the Rebels let victory slip from their grasp against Texas A&M.
I talk about turnover margin here a lot, because it’s a pretty big deal. The Rebels were plus-2 in turnover margin after playing their first turnover-free game of the year. Auburn turned it over twice, the first resulting in C.J. Johnson’s fumble, the second on the Mike Marry pick resulting in Bo Wallace’s short touchdown run. Without those turnover’s it’s 27-20.
Protecting the football is a sign of growth for Bo Wallace. He was on today, 17-f0r-22 passing, and he won’t have to answer questions about bad decisions, not even one. He showed maturity near the end of the first half on first down from the Auburn 22 when he threw the ball away. Didn’t take a sack and didn’t force a throw. The Rebels were able to get a field goal and go into the half at 17-17 after losing a 14-0 lead.
Wallace didn’t rip off any big gains in the ground game. He’s just not that fast, but as long as he continues to make right reads and have positive yards, he’s makes Jeff Scott better. With his 25-yard touchdown off a Randall Mackey pass, Wallace became the first Ole Miss player to have a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing in the same game.
It was good to see Scott at interviews today. He’s been off limits since media days, spending some time in the Hugh Freeze doghouse. Maybe after today’s 137 yards, 1 yard shy of his career high and his third 100-yard game of the season, he can come by again.
Scott ran with toughness, protected the ball and showed the awareness to bounce up and run for the end zone when he it looked like he’d been tackled after a catch in the fourth-quarter when the Rebels were trying to deliver the knock-out blow.
Donte Moncrief had four catches, but Wallace spread the ball around, and Ja-Mes Logan had a big down-field catch when he was covered to set up a short Scott touchdown. With Logan at the slot, the Rebels have their three best receivers on the field at the same time in Moncrief, Logan and Vince Sanders.
Defensively, Auburn was not as bad as it has been. Clint Moseley was good against the Rebels last year. The Rebels couldn’t get to him in the first half, and he was 8-for-8 for 90 yards.
Auburn also had success in the run game and consistently turned the corner for big gains in its comeback.
But things changed. As there were in the opener against Central Arkansas, there were adjustments. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said his guys were actually over-aggressive and running themselves out of position in the first half. Over the final two quarters Moseley was 3-for-10 with an interception and was sacked twice. After halftime, Auburn produced 60 yards and a field goal.
The Rebels had 451 yards for the game, 265 in the second half. Freeze was adamant that his offense could move the ball against Auburn, but the Rebels couldn’t get the ball in the first half. Auburn had a time of possession edge of 20:46 to 9:14 in the first half.
Auburn RB Tre Mason was impressive. Quick and stronger than he looks. The Tigers finished with 101 yards rushing to the Rebels’ 200.
The Ole Miss offense will be more effective moving forward if the Rebels can figure out kick coverage. Bryson Rose had three touchbacks, but when he didn’t, Auburn averaged 32 yards per return, a field position killer.
Rose, who struggled early this season, has regained some consistency. He hit both of his field goal attempts today from 28 and 39 yards.