Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 38-10 loss to Florida …

I was willing to excuse some obvious flaws against Vanderbilt, flaws like pass coverage where Tony Conner would have helped, an inability to run the ball consistently and a pocket that seemed to be collapsing quickly.

Those same issues were there against Florida, and it’s not surprising they weren’t corrected, because Florida is a much better defense.

The Gators are quicker in the front seven than Alabama and cover better in the secondary.

I was forgiving against Vanderbilt, because the Rebels were coming off such an emotional win in Tuscaloosa, and because Vanderbilt is indeed improved.

What you have now, though, are some obvious offensive line needs that Ole Miss must address if it’s going to contend in the SEC West.

Truthfully, a lot of people had the Rebels at 4-1 right now but with the loss coming against Alabama and not rebuilding Florida.

It’s really better this way. Ole Miss still has in its pocket a win against an important SEC West rival.

What the Rebels didn’t have in the Swamp was an answer for the Florida front seven.

There’s a lot of talk about the Gators’ secondary, and they’re good, but Chad Kelly passed for 259 yards and would have passed for more yards and touchdowns had he been better protected.

This isn’t only about Laremy Tunsil’s absence. Tunsil, though, would have played a huge role in the game. It’s possible that Florida wouldn’t have gotten three sacks and four tackles for loss in the first half had Tunsil played. With Tunsil, maybe the Rebels get off to a better start and put themselves in better position later in the game.


This isn’t to say that all pressure came from left tackle Fahn Cooper, far from it. But with Tunsil, Cooper goes back to right tackle, and the same trickle down affect on the OL that hurts the Rebels now trickles in the other direction.

There’s no word on when or if Tunsil will come back.

There are also injury and health issues up front with Justin Bell still out and multiple players playing hurt.

Ole Miss was able to mask some issues and get some things done in other games, even against Alabama.

Florida’s front seven was too good, though, its pressure too strong.

The Rebels should be able to block and score in the next two weeks against New Mexico State and Memphis.

But with Texas A&M’s ends coming up after Memphis it could be more of what the Rebels experienced at Florida.

Tunsil’s loss is glaring right now, but so is Tony Conner’s. Florida repeatedly burned Ole Miss on crossing routes over the middle, places where the Huskie or linebackers should be covering.

Cornerback coverage is holding up downfield, but teams don’t have to throw long when they can throw a 7-yard pass and have it turn into a 77-yard touchdown as Florida quarterback Will Grier did when he hit Brandon Powell over the middle with about 7 minutes left in the second quarter.

And let’s talk about Grier.

Not only is this guy a redshirt freshman who had played wire-to-wire as a starter for just two games, he had the flu, some level of it, during the week.

Even perfectly healthy Ole Miss should have been able to pressure Grier and get him rattled.

The Rebels often got close to Grier, but they could not finish with sacks the way the Gators did, and Grier certainly wasn’t rattled.

Like Ole Miss, offensive line play is not the Gators’ strong suit, but they protected Grier enough, and they succeeded in making Robert Nkemdiche look average.

The red zone issues the Rebels experienced against Vanderbilt were there again. So much of this goes to offensive line play so stop me if you’ve heard this.

As weak as the Rebels are there right now you still should be able to punch in a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 1. Ole Miss was not able to and backed up 4 yards before settling for a short field goal to get on the board in the third quarter.

Understanding his flaws up front Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is going to have to find something that works when he gets that close.

There was social media commentary, some of it from injured defensive lineman Herbert Moore, that said Freeze should have thrown to Treadwell when in that close.

Throwing to Treadwell is never a bad plan, and it’s time to accept that running at the middle, even from 1 yard out, is not a guarantee to get you to the end zone with this team.

Freeze also did not opt for the “jumbo” package he’s used several times this year with Robert Nkemdiche and DJ Jones in the backfield.

Hours before the Rebels’ 6 CT kick there was talk about Ole Miss as the possible new No. 1 had Ohio State not righted its ship against Indiana.

The Buckeyes did take care of business, however, and as we would soon learn the Ole Miss No. 1 talk was moot.

The Rebels have been brought back down to earth and have learned that they have several areas to clean up if they’re going to truly contend in the West.

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
  • Killer_Beeze

    PA…you failed to mention the careless penalties committed by the Rebels. That was uncharacteristic and needs to be cleaned up. The battle was won up front by the Gators. You have to tip your hat to McElwain and his team….and to the crowd NOISE.
    Ole Miss was literally knocking on the door to the #1 spot in the AP Top25 (after the abysmal play of Ohio State and Michigan State) and failed.
    I find it strange karma? that ‘Bama beat Georgia 38-10 and Florida beat Ole Miss 38-10.
    IF the Rebels lose the #1 spot in the West (because I don’t see any more losses for the Tide) and IF Florida continues it’s winning streak, we’d have a ‘Bama-Florida matchup in Atlanta. McElwain against his old coach Saban.
    And JB would be one happy camper indeed. :))

    • Parrish Alford

      Penalties were one of the few areas the Rebels improved in this week, 5 for 30 yards at Florida as opposed to 11 for 119 against Vanderbilt.

    • Lee814

      The one positive (if you can even call it one) is that this loss came to a team from the East. OM still controls their own destiny when it comes to getting to Atlanta. They are going to have to play much, much better to even have a chance. The other teams now have good film to watch on how to completely stop the Rebels, so it will be extremely difficult.

    • JB

      AMEN .. BRO 🙂 KB sorry about your Rebels. They will survive to fight another day, “AIM HIGH”.

  • Lee814

    I have been concerned about the defense from game one this year. It just hasn’t even looked close to last year’s group. Looks like OM really misses Tom Allen more than many realized they would. It also shows that Freeze should have went outside to find a replacement and not have promoted from the office.

    Another glaring need that is going to have to eventually be addressed is the lack of ability to develop the offensive line. I know there have been depth and injury issues, but this is not a new problem. Every team has to battle those issues. This has been a major problem for years. At some point these young guys have to be developed.

  • papatoLC

    I have two questions about last night. First, Is Ole Miss as bad as they were last night? I don’t think so but only those guys that wear the uniforms can answer that question. Second, Is Fla. as good as they were last night? Based on their other games, I don’t think so, but only the next two months will answer that question. Last night Fla. did everything right and kicked Ole Miss butts. Last night the announcers said that Ole Miss showed character during a late stand that held Fla to a field goal. By the end of October we will know if they were correct about character. I think they were right.

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