Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 30-22 loss at Auburn …

Well, the four road trips to begin the season are now complete. I realize the Southeast Missouri game was in this opening stretch, but it sure seems like four-straight road trips.

In August I thought if Ole Miss reached this point 3-2 it would be a good thing, and it would give the Rebels a chance to do something on the back end of the schedule.

But there’s the feeling of opportunity lost after a 3-1 start. Most people who had Ole Miss 3-2 at this point had them losing at Texas.

I thought the Auburn game would be a tricky one, but it’s one the Rebels would have handled if they’d have played as well as they did against Texas and Vanderbilt — and even Alabama — in run defense.

But a team that sees the read option when it practices against its own offense looked as though it had never seen it before. Hugh Freeze and Dave Wommack said they prepared for it even though Auburn hadn’t shown it much this year, but there was very little execution to stop Nick Marshall.

Wommack talked more about poor tackling than poor execution. Sunday is truth day they say, so we’ll see what the film showed on Monday.

Dave Wommack


Here’s something you know without seeing the film: Johnny Manziel can run a little read option too, and if Ole Miss can’t block Auburn who’s to say the Rebels can block Texas A&M?

Auburn sacked Bo Wallace six times and had 14 tackles for loss. It was a very weak performance by the Rebels’ offensive line, and there was blame to share. It wasn’t just one guy.

I’ve had a lot of people ask why Ole Miss hasn’t taken more shots downfield this season. I think protection plays into that. You have to protect to give the deep routes time to develop. Part of the reason for few vertical attempts earlier in the season I suspect was that Ole Miss was having success on the ground. There hasn’t been much of that in the last two weeks. Saturday night the Rebels took more shots downfield. It was a long time before they were rewarded with any success, but ultimately Donte Moncrief had a big catch for a 49-yard score late in the third. Then early in the fourth Moncrief grabbed another deep ball and scored on the next play, a 12-yard swing pass off the right side with good blocking from Justin Bell and Evan Swindall on the edge.

We’re almost to the mid-way point of the season which is the “you are what you are” stage.

There’s not a a hero waiting in the wings to come in and make this offensive line better. Freeze is going to have to figure it out with what he has, whether that’s more quick passing game or rolling Wallace out to take shots downfield.

Bo Wallace


There is a blueprint for taking away the Rebels’ perimeter run game, and they are going to have to run between the tackles. We saw a little more of I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton against Auburn but still sporadic success.

On the whole I thought the Rebels took a step back. Didn’t tackle or stop the run on defense, didn’t block on offense. While Moncrief had some good catches, he had drops too, and so did other receivers with the possible exception of Ja-Mes Logan. He had a strong game, particularly in the first half.

Auburn didn’t try to throw the ball downfield much, but when it did, I thought the Rebels got some pretty good play from corners Mike Hilton and Senquez Golson.

Also, Cody Prewitt’s strip of the Auburn running back to put Ole Miss in position to take the lead with a touchdown drive was a big-time play, one on which the Rebels failed to capitalize.

Kudos to Andrew Ritter. I’ve been on him about the inconsistency that I’ve seen from him in practice, but he nailed some big kicks, two from 40-plus.

The bottom line is Auburn’s not a great team. If you can’t block and tackle against them you’re going to have trouble ahead, particularly in the next two weeks against A&M and LSU.

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.

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  • Cid Riley

    Here come the Aggies…well rested from a bye week. Welcome to the SEC West, where the porch is only big enough for 2 big dogs.

    • TrollSeasonIsOpen

      how’d that northwestern game turn out for you?

  • Gregory White

    BREAKING: Ole Miss football team heckled by Theater Department,

  • Doug

    Gus Malzahn must have prayed harder than Coach Freeze. What other explanation is there?

    • Killer_Beeze

      You have something against Christians and praying Doug? Are you a heathen,agnostic or an atheists or all of the above?
      Sounds like you have a big problem with “traditional American values”.

  • Missouri Rebel

    The explanation is pretty clear…you can’t win in the SEC without a power running game. The conference has seen Freeze’s offense for the last year and have figured out it’s weakness. Defenses will spread out and cut off the perimeter game and dare the Rebs to run inside to beat them.
    It doesn’t matter what kind of receiving corps a team has if there is no real running threat. Look at Georgia and LSU and Alabama, all have QB’s who will have a shot at playing in the NFL and all have good receivers but all have BIG, STRONG RUNNING BACKS who can run between the tackles. If you don’t have that element then you won’t have consistent success against SEC defenses.

  • NT5150

    Boy…am I going to be eating crow at work tomorrow.

  • JB

    AP Top-25 College Football Poll (October 6, 2013), Ole Miss moves out and Missouri moves in with a 5-0 record,, Gators move up and so does Florida State @6. Rebels next foe Tex A&M rated as #9. Good Luck Rebels, try to stay out of the theater this week.



  • Cid Riley

    LSU QB, Mettenberger is THE best pure passer in the NCAA. I change my prediction of Sharkfins beating LSU. With Aggies, LSU and Mizzu left…it could be iffy for Sharkfins to win 7, but 6 is almost guaranteed.

    • Roger Davis

      Cid, I also see Ole Miss with 7 wins. The offensive line is too banged up and the team, as a whole, is very young. Miss. State will probably come away with 5 wins. I’m thinking they have to beat Ole Miss to save Dan Mullen’s job. And the reason I like LSU is they are the best road team in the country…period. They always ‘bring it’ no matter who or where they play.

      • Cid Riley

        I agree, Rog. Don’t think Mullen will be coaching for his job, though. MSU has only 9 seniors in its roster. My ‘Cats sure barfed up a huge win…great game though.

        • Roger Davis

          Maybe State can build hope, but should Ole Miss win the Egg Bowl, that would mean a 4-win season. Generally this game is the ‘Super Bowl’ for both teams and losses at home resulting in a subpar-500 record don’t set to well with most. Northwestern has nothing to be ashamed of, they played a great game. They are not quite yet in the upper echelon as Ohio State. Last year’s bowl win against State was the first since 1949. But things are on the rise.

  • Cid Riley

    It was an incredible atmosphere. I had an older guy tell me, “That in my 40 years of watching games at Ryan Field, that this was the loudest.” It was raining, cool and sloppy. Perfect football, except for the outcome.

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