What to make of Ole Miss at 3-2

Hugh Freeze acknowledged what everyone thought Saturday night, and that’s that the momentum of a 3-0 start is gone.

Back in the summer when you get out the schedule and start pondering wins and losses, I thought if Ole Miss reached the string of home games at 3-2 that would be a good thing.

Instead, 3-2 arrives with two-straight losses. They get a pass for losing at Alabama, although the struggles on offense were a concern even then.

Add to that the defense’s inability to slow down Auburn’s version of Randall Mackey plus the fact that Johnny Manziel is in town this weekend, and while that may be a boon to The Square the concerns just increase on the field.

Texas A&M, and LSU which follows, both have explosive offenses, but both have shown vulnerability on defense. If the Rebels are to win either or both it’s going to take regaining the explosiveness of their own offense or the three straight wins could be followed by four straight losses leading into the Idaho game on Oct. 26.

Within the two losses the Rebels have created opportunities for themselves on offense but have failed to execute at critical times. Against Auburn they had drives of seven, nine, nine and 10 plays that resulted in no points.

The fact that the Rebels played poorly and still had a chance to drive for a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter says that this offense isn’t completely broken but is in need of repair.

Defenses have adjusted to the Ole Miss offense, and it’s up to Freeze to readjust. He takes pride in his offense, and I will be surprised if we don’t see some level of change, some effort to return serve.

The mid-way point of the season will arrive after the A&M game, but with the make-up of the home and away games on the schedule it feels like it’s here right now.

This is a very important week for Ole Miss.

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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  • Flareb

    Its hard as a fan of your given program to move on from losses, especially this one. There is a process in learning how to win and hopefully we learned something this weekend. If you’re going to stake your flag at the top of the mountain you don’t lose games like this. Sadly this was a contest between to mid pack teams in the SEC. We’re young and building and that’s what we have to focus on. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Having said that, make no mistake, this one sits in my craw like an angry jalapeno………….The SEC west is just off the charts brutal and it just doesn’t get any easier.

    • The Ghost of Col. Reb

      You hit the nail on the head! However, how long does it take to build Rome? I been eating crow for 40 years now. Every SEC school seems to be known for being great at one sport or another. I’m not sure that OM has been consistently relevant in any sport in all my 40. I’ve seen some pretty good ones, but nothing that any national powerhouse would get ruffled over. Maybe it’s time to change to a smaller conference, I just don’t know. You add in A&M and Mizzou now, it’s not getting any easier.

  • Larry Box

    One of the things I think is wrong: it’s usually not good football to go for 4th and five against an SEC defense if you’re around the middle of the field. It’s not good football to put the ball in the hands of a freshman receiver and give him an option to pass if the defense allows it. These types of plays aren’t going to meet with much success in the SEC and should ONLY be tried when all else has failed. Our offense is too good to resort to this kind of gimmick playcalling. Line up and beat the other team. We will win our share of those matchups.

    • The Ghost of Col. Reb

      My opinion is, once you shut the read option down, all you have is gimmicks and passing. Our offensive line is built for speed, they are not big enough to push 400 d-linemen backwards. When they are healthy, it’s their speed and stunts that keep defenses off balance. Unfortunately, we are not very healthy or deep on the O-line. These boys are playing hard for walking wounded.

  • Parrish Alford

    Good analysis. Larry, I agree on the gimmick plays. Better chance by giving Bo Wallace one more shot there. Flareb, this was the first of Freeze’s 18 games at Ole Miss in which I think the Rebels were out-performed in a game in which they were not already heavy underdogs.

  • REB

    The running game is the worst problem right now. This is the result of a young banged up offensive line with one of the best linemen out for the year. When the teams we are playing see we are having trouble running the ball between the tackles they tee off on Wallace. I’m sure the coaches are working on this problem night and day.

  • G

    Ok, why not make Brunneti a running back to go between the tackles? We know he’s capable. If you have to take the redshirt off Kincade so be it. Go with your best athletes.

    • Parrish Alford

      I think it will take that type of radical move to improve the inside running. The other option is to give I’Tavius Mathers enough plays to try and develop some consistency within the game. Hugh Freeze says Mathers is his best inside runner, and he’s averaging 7.6 yards per carry. That’s an average that more closely reflects all of his carries, as opposed to Jeff Scott’s 8.7-yard average. Scott’s is boosted by runs of 75 and 53 yards, but those runs are exactly why you want Scott to touch it as much as possible. Any one of his touches could go the distance. Mathers has 14 carries through four games. The Brunetti question is valid and isn’t new. He’s shown his skill, and he’s 31 pounds heavier than Mark Dodson, the biggest running back who has carried this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a move like that, but that would never be spoken of publicly before spring it in a game.

      • Missouri Rebel

        Brunetti as a running back seems like a logical move at this point. It seems radical but it would allow Jeff Scott to be lined up in other positions and force defenses to account for him with his big play ability. With Brunetti and Mathers running the ball inside, it would seem to provide the tackle breaking ability needed to run behind a young, banged up offensive line….as for taking the redshirt off Kincade, with the upcoming games against Idaho and Troy, it would seem like he would have the opportunity to get some experience in a game situation…I know that the purpose of the redshirt is to develop the future and retain a year of eligibility but the future can be now. The Rebels still have a chance to have a great season this year…Just seem to need a jump start right now.

  • Mantachie

    as far as recruiting does he have any on his radar that are between the tackle type runners, These small fast runners are fun it they get outside but it is the sec and they know how to adjust and stop, During the Auburn game I thought back to Mico Mcswain(spelling ?) under coach O I believe he was a DB that they found had speed and moved him to offense. He broke a few games but soon they outside was closed and he was slowed. We need A Brandon Bolden or deuce type runner who can go up the middle. Take a hit and run over someone. No one uses a fullback much but a solid bruiser who could get 3-4 yards a carry up the middle would be awsome

    • Parrish Alford

      Akeem Judd, juco back commit, is listed at 5-11, 215.

  • keith

    whatever we do rebel fans…….. stay positive! show up saturday! be proud! be loud! and stay on your feet! lets give johnny softball a little heck and encourage our boys to play passionate football for 60 minutes!!!!!!!! Hotty Toddy baby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WIN THE DAY

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