Day After Observations

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.

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.

Posted in Football
  • JB

    a devastating lose for Ole Miss yesterday up in Fayetteville as it appears now they will finish regular season play at 8-4 with 4-4 in SEC West. some bowl awaits them somewhere, but not as good a bowl prediction as it was a week ago. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Reddirtrebel

    Bo has been throwing off his back foot, since he got pinballed for 60 minutes in Baton Rouge. Have we not got a QB coach? Even the announcers were talking about it. Good grief!!

  • Reddirtrebel

    In reality, coaches had two weeks to prepare for Arkansas. Another year goes by an still no Atlanta.

    • Penny Oakley

      You’re right, Reddirtrebel, Ole Miss had an open date prior to the Arkansas game but looking at their play, one would certainly think not. They were not prepared and not even motivated at the possibility of doing something special. Had they won their remaining games and Auburn beat Alabama – the tiebreaker was in the Rebels favor. Plus they might have moved into playoff contention by beating Miss. State. But the Razorback loss made all of that impossible.

  • matt516

    How do you end a completely uninspired football game? You do so with three timeouts remaining, running the football/clock AND never even attempting to score. Unbelievable as it may seem, that’s EXACTLY what occurred. What happened to passionate, inspired football for sixty minutes? Winning was definitely out of reach, but pride was STILL in play.

  • Flareb

    If you think Bo was questionable there’s nothing in the mix for next year at QB…Reddirt, I think it could be awhile before you see Atlanta…..

  • Killer_Beeze

    This loss was ugly and disappointing to say the least.
    “Kailo Moore fielded a kickoff at the 2 and ran out of bounds with his momentum.”
    I was shocked to see Kailo Moore taking a kickoff return. Coach Freeze apparently didn’t learn his lesson with Moore…who has a history of muffing kickoff/punt returns. Play with fire & you get burned.
    The Rebels can still win Saturday if they focus and get some swagger back. Afterall, this is the Egg Bowl and a whole new ball game.

  • papatoLC

    I have not changed my mind. This is a special team. There are so many places you can put the blame, but the hog game is in over. There is nobody that wanted to win more than Bo. Bo is not nor has he been anywhere near the best QB in the SEC. But he has been the best on the Ole Miss team. He has won more big games than he has lost. He should not have tried to make those deep passes. He could not plant his right foot because of injury and get any power behind his throws, but Bo wants to win. Just like the last two years, Bo with an injury was the best chance Ole Miss had to win. This is one fan that will not hammer my team. That is a very good Hog team that would have beaten several SEC west team if they had played the confidence that they played with yesterday. This was not a lack of effort. Four season ago was a lack of effort. This was just a bad game. It is my hope that the coaches will play last year’s egg bowl over and over. The one where the lesser team beat the better team. As a matter of fact show the last home egg bowl. Again the lesser team (record wise) won the game. Don’t let the hogs beat you a second time. I trust this team to do what they have done during the last three years after a bad loss. That is play with heart and play good football. Ole Miss can beat State.

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