By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
QB Bo Wallace stole the show with an impressive performance in his first college start, completing 20 of 24 passes (with two drops) for 264 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Wallace made good decisions, stayed in the pocket to make plays with his arm and read the defense to hurt the Bears in the running game. He finished with a team-leading 82 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Defensive adjustments at halftime helped the Rebels overcome a frightful first two quarters in which UCA gained 237 yards. Those adjustments led to four second-half sacks. (The Rebels had just 13 sacks all of last year.)
Missed assignments on the offensive line kept the Rebels from scoring late in the second quarter. Kick Bryson Rose, who had hit 25 of 29 career field goal attempts going into the game, missed from 29 yards and had a 50-yard attempt blocked.
Keys To Victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
Start Fast. Ole Miss scored 14 points in the first quarter, more than it scored in the final three games of 2011. It was a jolt of confidence for Wallace and his offensive teammates. When the momentum slowed in the second quarter, the Rebels were able to find it again after halftime.
Take care of the football. It was a rare victory in turnover margin, a category in which the Rebels ranked No. 100 last season.
Ole Miss fumbled twice but recovered both, one for a touchdown when Ja-Mes Logan fell on a Wallace bobble in the end zone. Wallace threw the Rebels’ only interception, while Ole Miss gained an interception and a fumble from UCA.
Know your assignment. This proved costly in the red zone in the second quarter as OL busts led to four consecutive plays of last yardage, three with sacks and one with a TFL.
Bo Wallace. The juco transfer quarterback had periods of good play in daily workouts for the last month. Saturday he showed consistency that seemed to escape him in practice. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze called Wallace a “gamer.”
It was a great beginning for Wallace and Ole Miss, but rarely does a win against an FCS opponent answer all questions, and this one did not. The competition will increase this week against UTEP.
The Rebels, however, were much more in control against UCA than they were against last year’s FCS opponent, Southern Illinois.