Day After Observations

Coming to you later this morning after the traffic nightmare that was the Vaught-Hemingway Stadium traffic flow and the 3 a.m. home arrival.

It’s quite possible last night’s loss to Texas A&M — the second emotional three-point setback to the Aggies in Oxford in two years — will be the loss that keeps on giving.

There was a lot of coverage about Georgia’s injuries going into its 41-26 loss to Missouri. We could be about to see a similar story unfold for Ole Miss.

Linebacker Serderius Bryant was carted off at the end after losing consciousness on the field. Robert Nkemdiche, Mike Hilton, Woodrow Hamilton and Issac Gross also left the game with injuries. Carlos Thompson and CJ Johnson were already out. All of those were on the defensive side of the ball.

Running back Jeff Scott didn’t play more at the end because he aggravated a thigh bruise injury that he sustained at Auburn last week.

The Rebels face another explosive offense this week in LSU.

Hugh Freeze didn’t give status reports for any of them after the game, but Nkemdiche’s injury was called a strained hamstring during the game. Those tend to linger. Just ask Senquez Golson.

Hugh Freeze talked about the heart with which his team played, and I’ll give you that. I think the Rebels did play hard, but there’s a disturbing trend in the run game.

Scott was basically a non-factor in the game.

The Rebels aren’t getting the corner right now, and they’re not consistently moving chains with between-the-tackles running either. The downhill run game was better last night, but it wasn’t so good that Freeze was willing to attack the middle on the ground on first down when the Rebels went three-and-out on their last possession.

Play-calling seemed to be the No. 1 complaint on social media. Freeze said the first play was a run-pass option by Wallace that Freeze felt should have been run and not passed. The second play was a pass for first-down yardage that hit Ja-Mes Logan in the chest and was dropped.

In my mind I kept going back to Wallace’s comments from a few weeks ago when he said Ole Miss receivers were better than Texas A&M’s. That sure wasn’t the case last night with the drops by the Rebels in crucial situations.

Wallace isn’t playing at the level that he was three weeks ago, but the problem looks to be more in the run game than with his throws. He was 22-for-36 last night (61.1 percent), and the drops kept him from being much closer to 67 percent.

I have high expectations for these receivers, because I think the ability is there. The drops have become a concern.

Freeze: “I’ve seen them do (make plays) time and time again. I don’t know if they’re trying too hard, pressing, but we’ve certainly had some (drops) that hurt us.”

Barry Brunetti has shown that he still has a role on this team. In Freeze’s mind that’s about the power running package mostly, although with recent struggles for the offense it looks like that role is expanding, and Brunetti is passing more.

Freeze was asked if Wallace was definitely his starting quarterback for LSU, and the answer was something less than an overwhelming vote of confidence.

“Yeah, I think so. I have to look at it with what I think we can do. That has something to do with it. Again, I say the game was on the line, and he made a really nice throw,” Freeze said.

I just haven’t seen enough success from Brunetti in the passing game to make me think he’s about to reignite that area of the offense.

Here’s the deal, Wallace isn’t going to be picture perfect on every pass, nor is he going to make great decisions with consistency. The body of work from a year and a half as the starter says he’s a gunslinger and a risk taker. Those risks have paid off a lot during that time.

The SEC’s top quarterback in efficiency rating was Zach Mettenberger — who the Rebels face this week — going into Saturday’s games. He was completing 68 percent of his passes. If you are a receiver catching only 68 percent of the balls thrown your way there are real problems. The Ole Miss receivers are much better than that, of course, but the point is there’s a different standard for and a different expectation for success for the guys who don’t touch the ball every play.

Brunetti has shown the last two weeks that he’s an important part of this team, but he hasn’t shown that he’s going to elevate the passing game.

The Rebels need Wallace at QB to keep balance in the offense, and balance is important until Brunetti shows that it isn’t by consistently driving the offense for touchdowns.

The 38 points and 462 total yards were improvement from Ole Miss over what we saw at Alabama where you get a pass for who you were playing and at Auburn where you don’t.

This improvement comes against a Texas A&M defense that was last in the SEC in total defense and rushing defense and next to last in scoring defense.


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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  • JB

    “The Rebels face another explosive offense this week in LSU’, yep the Tigers are good one but could only score 17 points yesterday against the nations top defensive team Florida Gators. The Gator have practically no offense since the lose of QB Jeff Driskell early in the season. Looks like the fourth straight lose coming up for Ole Miss.

  • REB

    Fourth straight lose hell. Only losers concede anything. These coaches and players are not laying down for anyone. They have proved that. They deserve better. They will be underdogs yes. Can they win?, yes. Will they win? That remains to be seen. I think our coaches will put a good game plan together and the guys will execute it. My biggest concern is the injurys and Bo seems to not be quite a good as last year plus the ball drops are killing us. I’ll leave it to them calls to make but I sure would like to see more of Burnetti.

  • Roger Davis

    So this Saturday will probably the fourth straight loss. But going into the season any sane person would agree with three of those. Only the Auburn loss is the only head scratcher. Let’s see, Ole Miss won two games in 2011 and seven in 2012 and some people had an inclination that the Rebels would beat the No. 1 and No. 9 and No. 6 teams in the nation. Again, any sane person knows that not possible. I still think the Rebs are ahead on progress considering the youth of the team. If they have got every recruit in the country, it still takes time to get experience under your belt.

  • Charles Mays

    These 2013 Rebels are playing their heart out for Rebel Nation and for Coach Freeze. Sure, I would like to win every game, but you can’t expect a team with so many newcomers to go out each Saturday and play with teams like we have in the SEC…… ENCOURAGEMENT is probably one of the greatest tools of communicating to this football team that we are solidly behind the players and coaches. It is sooooooo easy to be an armchair Coach!! Hoddy Toddy and GO REBELS <

  • Roger Davis

    Oh, I forgot to mention Auburn is ranked this week. So if Ole Miss losses to LSU, then ALL four loses would have been to teams in the Top 25 which three of those are in the Top 10.

  • REB

    Well said Charles.


    Rebels win 5 games this year and nobody will want Freeze after the play calling that is going on down there so ole miss fans can relax.

    • bigreb

      So the pass on 2nd down that was dropped by Logan was a pee wee call. You people listen to all the media hype and think we are great. Just be happy we compete and be patient we are going to be good in about 2 years these players have to grow up some and Freeze is learning as well. The problem in the past is about the time we are about to break out we have a coaching change or something always hapens. This athletic director is going to change this and help us be successful we just have to be patient. People we had a long way to go so understand we aint there yet sucess coming so early last year has put this fan base [some] into a unreasonable frenzy. We need to kep this staff together for years to come and they will recruit and develope talent but WE ARE NOT there yet please calm down.

  • REB

    Big Red you won’t get negative saps that constantly preach this negative junk to listen. They eat and breath that crap.

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