Day After Observations, the Saturday Night Edition

Notes and thoughts from Ole Miss’ 37-24 loss to Memphis …

I’ll keep the same blog name for the sake of consistency.

Memphis gets one in this series every now and then, and people who follow the history know that.

It’s never easy to take for Ole Miss especially when the Rebels feel like they have the better team, which is most of the time.

Ole Miss is better now than it has usually been in the modern day history of this series. Or at least it is supposed to be.

Memphis is better too. There’s no question about that after today.

Ole Miss players went into the game talking about absorbing the Tigers’ early shot and settling into the flow of the game.

There was no early shot from Memphis. There were two touchdowns and a 14-0 Ole Miss lead.

It was the Tigers who absorbed the early shot and after that dictated flow with 31 unanswered points.

Clearly Memphis was not shaken by the early deficit, and as expected it was extra motivated for this game.

Paxton Lynch passed for 384 yards and routinely burned Ole Miss defensive backs on deep out routes.

I won’t say Lynch was taking what Ole Miss was giving. He was just taking it from the Rebels regardless of what they were doing.

The more we learn about this Ole Miss team more we see the biggest loss off last year’s roster was Senquez Golson.

Memphis was 12-for-20, and much of that came on those out routes. I was focused on the crossing patterns going in because those were what so hurt the Rebels at Florida.

Memphis players on offense were in position and executed. Several times in the first half the Tigers had the numbers advantage where they were going with the football.

When Ole Miss is playing well on defense it is running to the ball and gang-tackling, but there wasn’t much of that going on.

Time and again Memphis receivers picked up significant yards after contact. If they were going down they were lunging forward.

Tackling was a big talking point after the game.

Dave Wommack implied that lack of physicality in camp has led to the poor tackling the Rebels displayed at Memphis and in some other games.

“We have to have a different plan in the off-season and fall camp doing that, have to spend more time doing it. Sometimes when you don’t have the depth you don’t want to do that. We’re not the only team that doesn’t tackle a lot. That’s not an excuse, but we have to be better tacklers.”

He said there are steps the staff can take in-season too. It will require getting physical.

“You have to work against some scouts and do some things live. You don’t want to bang them up, but you’re going to have to do some of that. You can’t win a game if you tackle like that.”

I agree that more physical practices would have helped, but that horse has left the barn. Hitting the scout team guys might help, it can’t hurt, but I question whether the staff will take that approach mid-season.

The two other big talking points were the fourth down calls, neither of them successful, and the run-pass ratio throughout the game.

I’m OK with aggressive play-calling at the 10-yard line, and I liked the idea of Chad Kelly under center. But why pitch the ball 5 yards back from that formation?

This is not an offensive line that blows people off the ball. If you’re going too run the ball you’ve got to give them some help. Fullback help.

It’s no use taking a shotgun snap or pitch it back and have the runner try to pick a hole. The holes aren’t there.

Kelly was under center again on the fourth down from his own 35.

It’s so tempting. You’ve got an offense that can get big chunks of yardage in one play with Kelly throwing to talented wide receivers.

But getting one or two feet on the ground is a high-risk play.

Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and try to re-take momentum later in the game.

Memphis scored a touchdown with 34 seconds back. If you punt the Tigers back maybe they just get a field goal, or maybe they don’t score at all.

Regarding the run-pass ratio, 24 of 72 plays were runs. That’s 33 percent run, 67 percent pass.

That isn’t balanced, nor should it be.

Freeze indicated that he may pass more against Texas A&M.

“Maybe so. We’ll have to evaluate that and see going into next week,” he said.

The run plays were far fewer in the big picture, but Freeze is still trying to pound it forward in short yardage and that’s where the shortcomings are painfully visible.

I don’t know that the short-yardage answer is pass, pass, pass, but it needs to be something different in the run game. (Did someone say fullback?)

Laremy Tunsil comes back this week. That will give the Rebels an emotional lift, but it’s not going to fix the run game.

Tunsil played most of last season, and the Rebels were still an average run team.

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.

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  • Cal Bell

    When the NCAA changes the downfield blocking rule for 2016, Hugh Freeze and Malzaun will be exposed as “gimmick masters” and their crappy offenses will be shut down.

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