About to leave Fayetteville. Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 30-0 loss at Arkansas. …
I didn’t just cut and paste one of my old Ole Miss-Arkansas Fayetteville game stories from 2004 or 2006, but I could have. It was the same kind of putrid effort.
It’s not often that I have felt like a Hugh Freeze team wasn’t prepared, but that’s what it looked like.
The Rebels were not into the game emotionally. They were not invested. They became invested, but by the time they did too much damage had been done. By the time they arrived and said, ‘We’re ready to play,’ the Rebels needed to play near-perfect to come back from a 17-0 deficit, and they did not.
But that time in the game you can’t throw end zone interceptions when you’re about to score, and that’s what Bo Wallace did twice.
It was one of the worst games of Wallace’s career. When Ole Miss fans talk about this game years from now – and they will because they’ll remember the Rebels had a decent shot at the SEC West title before throwing it away – they’ll talk about Wallace’s turnovers. The turnovers are on Wallace.
The Rebels also, yet again, had no running game to assist their quarterback, whoever that was.
Mark Dodson was more involved earlier in the game, but that didn’t change anything.
The fact of the matter is the biggest thing Ole Miss did to improve its running game this week was to get a verbal commitment from Petal offensive lineman Javon Patterson.
Freeze talked about the need to get his offensive linemen “some help” through recruiting.
That’s well and good, and Freeze is building an offensive line. You can see it with this year’s verbal commits and in freshmen who are redshirting. But that doesn’t change anything about this season and about the rival game against Mississippi State this week.
There will be five OL starters returning for Ole Miss next year, but there will be a lot of competition for jobs.
While the offense struggled the defense actually ended up playing pretty well. There were mistakes on that side of the ball – like Mike Hilton giving up the inside to Arkansas receiver Keon Hatcher on the Hogs’ first touchdown – but after things began to settle down the defense played pretty well.
That group was on a tough situation from the start. It looked like the game was being played on a pee wee field of 50 yards as Arkansas spent all its time on the Ole Miss end of the field.
Ole Miss couldn’t drive to change field position, couldn’t flip the field with its punts and put its struggling offense in a bad spot when Kailo Moore fielded a kickoff at the 2 and ran out of bounds with his momentum.
Moore miscue was a huge play in the game. The Rebels would have had the ball at the 25 at least with a touchback, perhaps at the 35 if the ball gone out of bounds. Who knows what might have happened on a drive that began with better field position. Instead, Arkansas allowed only one first down after the Moore mistake and began a drive on the Ole Miss side of the 50 after a 41-yard punt.
Arkansas’ averaging starting field position for three first-quarter scoring drives was the Ole Miss 41.
The Hogs struck quickly on their first drive, but on their other two short drives ran nine plays each time before getting points.
You have to peel back the layers in this game, but when you do you’ll see pretty good defense.
Arkansas rushed for 159 yards, a much better effort by Ole Miss than in losses to LSU and Auburn.
The Ole Miss receivers were playing their first SEC game without Laquon Treadwell and had a fine showing. There was only one drop by a receiver that I can recall, and there was some tough catches.
The bottom line is the Rebels were sub-par in two of the three phases of the game, and that will get your clock cleaned in an SEC road game.
How they arrived at that mental state with so much on the line is disturbing.
Freeze immediately took responsibility for the loss. He should. The buck stops with him. He talked about a bad feeling he had from watching practice during the week. Couldn’t quite put his finger on it but knew something wasn’t right.
That makes you question the senior leadership on this team as well. It’s on those guys as well. They need to step up when things aren’t going right in a practice and help the staff get everybody on the same page.
I thought Arkansas would win the game in a low-scoring fashion because that’s how their games had been of late.
I thought the elements would play a part in holding down Ole Miss’ offensive production, the a wet game would hinder a passing game more than a running game.
It rained throughout the game, but it was never a massive downpour, and from all indications balls were kept dry. The weather didn’t really affect either team, but the Hogs affected the Ole Miss offense.
The question now is the emotional state of this Ole Miss team with the Egg Bowl coming up.
Given the larger body of work this season I would say there are matchups that favor Ole Miss. During the week I predicted a Rebels’ split in the last two games with the loss in Fayetteville. It’s going to be hard to hang a hat on this Ole Miss team if it can’t get itself any more ready than it showed against the Hogs.