Friday Morning Update

Spanning the globe on a Friday morning …

Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee wonders if Saturday’s Ole Miss-Alabama game is the biggest for the Rebels since the Archie Manning Era.

I would argue that it isn’t. In fact, I can name three that are bigger. The Rebels were ranked No. 4 when they lost at South Carolina in 2009. They had a chance to get back on track in spite of that loss at home against Alabama two weeks later and lost 22-3. Ole Miss went on to finish 4-4 in the SEC in 2009.

The biggest game Ole Miss game that I’ve covered was at home against LSU in 2003. For all intense and purposes, it was the SEC West championship game. Both teams had another game remaining, but both were heavy favorites, LSU at home against Arkansas and Ole Miss at MSU. Nick Saban was coaching the Tigers then.

Then there was this nugget from Saban in the middle of the week.

“Ole Miss’ wide receivers are big, very physical guys. They’re all athletic, all have good hands and are capable of making big catches. They’re very physical on the perimeter in terms of their blocking. Our defensive backs will have to be aggressive. Hand-placement is going to be important so they can control the blocker, disengage and make the tackle. That’s going to be very important in this game.”

Wide receiver blocking is an underrated part of college football. It’s not the glamour part of that position, but it’s extremely important, especially for a team that runs on the perimeter — as Ole Miss does — more than it runs inside.

Think back to Jeff Scott’s game-winning 75-yard run against Vanderbilt. Having watched that replay several times there were three main components that made it possible. The first was a Vanderbilt defensive lineman gave up on the play. He might not have chased down Scott, but he might have caught the attention of another blocker or gotten in the way, but he was worn down and let the play go, which is the result you hope the tempo offense will produce for you.

Second, Donte Moncrief and Evan Engram both threw key blocks on the edge that allowed Scott to get to the second level of the defense.

Third, Scott turned inside instead of running out of bounds. He’d have been forgiven for running out of bounds. It was a clock-management situation, and a field goal would have kept the game alive with an overtime period.

Scott went the extra mile and was rewarded, but that play doesn’t reach that point without good blocking from Moncrief and Engram. …

From the Tuscaloosa News, Alabama’s player leadership sent a clear message when it spoke up after the Colorado State game. …

USA Today shares this account of the Youngstown State coach who suggests that Saban would “body slam” a reporter whose phone went off during his press conference …

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

Posted in Football
  • UMBBFan

    I agree with you PA. But, it will become the most important game since the Archie Manning era IF we win the game. Otherwise it does fall behind those other missed opportunities.

    • Parrish Alford

      You are right BBFan. It’s really hard to assign value to a single game. That LSU game in 2003 would not have been nearly as big had the Rebels lost a game or two prior. Games are made big by what’s at stake when they play. If Ole Miss upsets Alabama this game will be remembered for years, but it’s true value would be determined by what comes next.

    • Killer_Beeze

      In order to win…the Rebels O-Line must perform…protecting Bo is the key to victory…plus,do not turn the ball over. Oh, and one last thing: outscore ‘Bama. :)))

  • Killer_Beeze

    In one of the most memorable games in Ole Miss Rebel football history, Ole Miss upset #3 Notre Dame, 20-13 in Mississippi Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 1977, in Jackson, Mississippi. That loss was Notre Dame’s only one in their 1977 season as Notre Dame finished the season with an 11-1 record and won the national championship.

    I was there and it was pandemonium for Rebels fans and shock & awe for the Fighting Irish.

    Here’s a link to a story written about that infamous game back in 1977.

  • keith

    PA, how do you feel about these “player only meetings”? I have mixed opinions on them. I hope this wasn’t the meeting that woke up the sleeping giant.

    • Parrish Alford

      I think different players respond to them in different ways. I am sure Saban did as much to wake them up this week as that meeting.

      • keith

        LOL! yep

  • The Ghost of Col. Reb

    The BR writer was speaking in present tense, as in, it’s the most important game now. It is the measuring stick of what you have as a team. Ole Miss lost that LSU game because the Refs gave it away, which often happens when playing LSU and Alabama because the SEC wants to keep those BCS Bowl slots. I can’t count how many times Ole Miss has been screwed to keep LSU or Bamer in a BCS Bowl. As far back as Bear Bryant, who used to tell the Refs they made a bad call….and they would change the call. When you play Alabama, you’re not just playing against the team, you’re playing against the SEC corporate machine.

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