Some notes and observations from a 30-7 loss at Vanderbilt. ...
Beatings like Ole Miss experienced in Nashville yesterday tend to put you in historical mode, and you go searching for the worst loss since when.
It was more than just the loss, however. There was the humiliation of being able to get nothing done on offense and knowing it was Vanderbilt that was doing this to you.
Maybe James Franklin goes on and does great things with Vanderbilt, but yesterday he did this with players who were 1-7 in the SEC last year.
For Ole Miss, a 47-yard touchdown pass from Zack Stoudt to Donte Moncrief with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining was rather meaningless in the big picture yet there seemed a big difference in losing 30-7 to Vanderbilt and being shutout 30-0. As I stood on the sideline at 30-point shutout at Vanderbilt just seemed a lot worse, but in reality it would not have been.
In searching for worst beatdown since when, the 2007 Arkansas game came to mind until I remembered the Tennessee game just last year, a 52-14 loss in Knoxville.
For what it's worth, at Tennessee, the Ole Miss starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli, was coming off a concussion sustained the week before. And it was the defense that was in disarray last year. The offense still managed 14 points in that game.
The Arkansas game in 2007, a 44-8 home loss in Ed's final year, came one week after an emotional and controversial 27-24 loss to Alabama.
Meanwhile, back in the present, this team has squandered whatever positive energy and hope it created in playing hard and almost pulling off a win against BYU, which, by the way, lost 54-10 to Utah yesterday.
The Rebels have gotten worse since opening day, not better.
Stunned players and coaches talked about how surprising the performance was given what a good week of practice they'd had.
They didn't bring it to Game Day.
The improved offensive line performance predicted by tackle Bobby Massie during the week didn't materialize.
Most disturbing were the five interceptions thrown by Stoudt, who had not thrown one in 43 attempts over two games. Against BYU he showed poise and threw balls away when there weren't plays to be made.
The bottom line is Vanderbilt is confident and improved, but it's Vanderbilt. If this is how you measure against Vanderbilt, how will you measure against the rest of the SEC? You know the answer.
Defensively, there were periods of good play but also times where Vanderbilt had the right plays called or found itself in favorable matchups – such as Ole Miss linebacker Joel Kight covering a running back one-on-one downfield. The resulting pass interference call was a key play on Vanderbilt's first touchdown drive.
And there's still a knack for allowing big plays like the 77-yard touchdown run by Zac Stacy in the third quarter.
Last week Vanderbilt had managed just 259 yards against UConn, which was picked to finish sixth in the Big East and which led Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter.
Some closing thoughts. There's a lot of talk about getting freshman offensive lineman Aaron Morris ready to play, but he didn't get in the game, and it looks like there are too many issues up front for one player to make a difference.
Houston Nutt mentioned often in the off-season that he expected a better year from senior defensive end Wayne Dorsey, and Dorsey backed up a strong game against Southern Illinois with a strong day against Vanderbilt. His five tackles were a career-high, and he also had a sack and a forced fumble.
At the other end, Kentrell Lockett wasn't very productive in the first two games and was replaced yesterday in the starting lineup by Gerald Rivers. Both finished with two tackles, but Rivers also had a tackle for loss and two pressures, and Lockett did not register any such big plays.
Freshman Nick Brassell was much more defense than offense, and it appears that will be the case moving forward. He was primarily the extra defensive back but finished with a tackle, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two pass break-ups.