Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 43-37 win over Alabama …
Actually these are same-day observations.
Folks, it’s all a blur right now. John Davis is driving, and I’m trying to make sense of things while we ride back.
Those looking for reasons Alabama lost rather than why Ole Miss won will focus on turnovers. There were five of them, a couple of fumbles in the kicking game where Alabama looked pretty shaky.
Yes those turnovers were big, but Alabama has capitalized on opponents’ mistakes in big games for many years.
Ole Miss should be credited for turning those mistakes into points.
It was an absolute chore to reach the end zone. The Rebels were not able to pound it in from the 1, but Hugh Freeze was creative enough to get Jordan Wilkins to the edge when everything was still bunched up on fourth down.
I like the Rebels’ heavy package with DJ Jones and Robert Nkemdiche. That’s going to be very productive in other games this year. Alabama is really good with its front seven.
It was great to see Laquon Treadwell get in the end zone for the first time this year. There’s no question that he’s fully recovered from his injuries and remains one of the nation’s top receivers. That was a big-time catch on the fade.
It was the last of Chad Kelly’s three touchdowns in the second half. Each of them were unique in their own way.
The 66-yard play to Quincy Adeboyejo will be called luck, and luck no doubt figured into when Kelly was able to recover after the high snap and hurled the ball in the general direction of a teammate. But it was Adeboyejo’s awareness and athleticism that allowed him to make the catch in traffic and then sprint to the end zone.
The 73-yarder to Cody Core was a good play to the right side of the field away from the Alabama defense bunched up in the middle.
I knew from the replays that the call should – initially a flag on Kelly for throwing beyond the line of scrimmage – be overturned, but I wasn’t sure that it would be.
Even when replays look like no-doubters on TV it’s anybody’s guess once a play gets to the replay booth.
That was one of several calls that went Ole Miss’ way that surprised me. It’s hard for road teams to get those calls in Tuscaloosa. Another was when Mike Hilton came over the shoulder of an Alabama receiver to break up a fourth-down pass and stop a drive.
There were one or two more it seems, but there’s this blur thing going on.
Let’s talk about the offensive line. Kelly was indeed pressured more than he was in the first two games, but he was sacked only twice.
That’s a compliment to an inexperienced makeshift group that is missing its best player. It’s also a compliment to Kelly for avoiding pressure and getting rid of the ball on time.
The Rebels didn’t quite rush for 100 yards – just 92 on 32 carries – but they limited tackles for loss to six and generally kept things moving forward. Dirty runs Freeze calls them.
The line didn’t dominate by any means, but I thought it would be matchup problem that could potentially tip the game to Alabama. It did not.
The group will only get better if Laremy Tunsil comes back.
As I wrote last night, or earlier this morning maybe, this team is about offense right now.
You can talk about the Land Sharks and the Ole Miss defense, but it’s the offense that is finding a way to get things done right now whether that’s executing the way it did in the first two games or making things happen with big plays as it did against Alabama.
I like the way the Rebels are playing in the secondary, still breaking on balls and getting picks. It’s three in three games for Trae Elston right now.
Cornerback Kendarius Webster had a very athletic PBU on a deep ball from Coker than was on the mark.
I thought Robert Nkemdiche had the best game of his career as he finished with six tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He was disruptive.
But the Rebels were pushed to the limit when they twice had three-touchdown leads late in the second half.
Ole Miss had advantages of 30-10 with 3:57 left in the third and 43-24 with 10:02 left in the game. That should have been enough for the Rebels to not be so stressed at the end, but the game was in doubt until the final seconds.
Alabama ran 100 plays because it was 11-for-20 on third downs and was able to extend drives. The Tide was 4-for-4 on third downs on one scoring drive, and only one of those was a gimme.
The Rebels need to clean up there.
But what they really need to do right now is get a little bit of sleep, wake up and spend just a little bit of time celebrating this very significant accomplishment.
Then their head coach, who just a few years ago got a $100,000 bonus for every SEC win, needs to bring them back to earth and have them mentally prepared to beat Vanderbilt in Oxford this Saturday.
I’ll have more later today after the polls come out.