By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
The offense was again crisp and effective – and the penalties were few. QB Bo Wallace hit the high-percentage passes and did not have a turnover.
The return of RB Jeff Scott showed how important he is to this team, as the Rebels were solid in the run game with their running backs, not quarterbacks.
Defensive line play was much improved from the beginning of the game. The Rebels didn’t need halftime adjustments to stuff the Miners.
Ball-protection was not good. There were four fumbles on the night, three of them lost. Randall Mackey gave up the football at the Ole Miss 8, and Korvic Neat’s fumble – one of two on the punt return team – came right after an impressive defensive stop had the Rebels steering momentum back in their direction.
Ole Miss gained one interception – Cody Prewitt’s pick in the end zone killed a UTEP scoring drive – and finished minus-2 in turnover ratio.
Keys To Victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Start fast. The Rebels were indeed able to start fast as Bo Wallace’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moncrief gave Ole Miss a 7-0 lead less than 5 minutes into the game.
More importantly, the Rebels were able to start fast on defense, set a tone to stop UTEP’s run game and carry it throughout the night.
2. Play with your eyes. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack graded the Rebels much better here, and that led to success against the run as Ole Miss held UTEP to 37 rushing yards and 1.2 yards per carry.
3. Keep emotions in check. This was a concern last week, but young players were able to play within themselves more, and the return of the veteran Scott at running back helped with this as well.
For two weeks, the Rebels have been able to respond to adversity in a game and finish with a win. Against Central Arkansas, it was a 20-14 halftime deficit. Against UTEP, it was regaining momentum after the Miners began to chip away at a 21-0 Ole Miss lead.
Jeff Scott: The junior running back returned from injury to gain 113 yards on 13 carries as Ole Miss amassed 332 yards on the ground. Scott’s night could have been bigger had he not been suspended for the first quarter for missing a class.
This was one the Rebels had to have to keep modest victory goals on the table. Now they have played well and won in two straight games, and that will help them grow their confidence as No. 14 Texas visits this week.