Turnovers will no doubt be a topic for Ole Miss football players in meetings today before they get back on the practice field this afternoon.
Hugh Freeze didn’t spend a lot of time on the topic in interviews after the scrimmage. I wasn’t there and don’t have a total numbers, but it appears there were at least one interception by Bo Wallace – one Freeze took responsibility for with play-calling – and three fumbles.
The Rebels made a slight improvement in turnover margin in Year 2 under Freeze. They were minus-0.8 in margin for 2012. That ranked ninth in the SEC and tied for 63rd in the NCAA.
Last year they were plus-0.1, seventh in the SEC and 56th in the nation.
Missouri led the SEC at plus-1.1. Houston led the nation at plus-1.9.
Based on the tempo offense that Freeze likes to play, nothing will kill the Rebels’ defense more than a quick turnover by the offense.
The defense can help the cause with more take-aways. They had 22 last year which put them sixth in the SEC and 52nd nationally.
More pressure on the quarterback will lead to more turnovers by both interception and fumble. This is where the Rebels were severely lacking a year ago. A healthy CJ Johnson should help. I’m interested to see how Fadol Brown and Marquise Haynes fit into the equation at end and if Robert Nkemdiche can get push consistently from tackle.
Bo Wallace made very good progress in reducing his interception numbers in Year 2. The problem for Wallace is that he will be remembered and judged by his Mississippi State performance.
It’s not a good thing to hear that had two interceptions in Saturday’s scrimmage, regardless of who claims responsibility.
He had one interception in the first spring scrimmage. It was a sideline route that the receiver tipped up, and the defender grabbed. It still counts.
Wallace had 17 as a sophomore and first-year starter. He had only six interceptions through 11 regular season games as a junior, but he threw three picks and fumbled into the end zone in overtime against MSU.
Wallace has a gunslinger mentality, a risk-taker that the Rebels really needed in 2012 but needed less last year.
He’s had health concerns in each of his first two seasons. He took the hit on the shoulder early in 2012 at Tulane, and it bothered him the rest of the year, more at the latter stages. The subsequent surgery kept him out of the necessary conditioning work leading to 2013. That showed up at the end of the season.
The fact that Wallace will soon see a specialist indicates that while the shoulder may be healed in the minds of the Ole Miss people, they think it can be better or he can be better with it.
It’s a good thing to cross all T’s and dot the I’s before Wallace’s last year.
I don’t think you’ll see a lot of fumbles by backs. The Rebels have been pretty good in that area, and there are enough quality backs to pull one and insert another if a message needs to be sent. Nothing speaks to players like playing time.
Improving the turnovers will be mostly about Wallace making good decisions, accurate passes and getting back to the form he showed for much of 2013.