We could actually call this “Night Of Observations,” but I'll just stick with the name of the regular feature. A few thoughts from the Rebels' 29-24 come-from-ahead loss to Arkansas earlier today. …
Randall Mackey is really looking like a quarterback. Decisions aren't bad. Throws are fairly accurate. Not all the completed throws are good, mind you. A couple of his swing passes to Nick Brassell might have gone for more yardage if they hadn't been high throws.
There were times, too, that Mackey had an open receiver and made an accurate pass for the catch. But the receiver had to wait for the pass, and that gave the defender time to close. That speaks to arm strength.
Mackey throws a nice deep ball. And with Donte Moncrief he has a guy with “go-get-it-ability.” I would say that's quarterback's best friend as much as the running game, as Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt likes to say.
Mackey needs to do a better job of getting rid of the ball when he's under pressure, but he needs to be under pressure less often too.
Mackey kept some drives alive with his scrambling. Interesting that there were no called runs, none that I remember anyway.
Brandon Bolden had the combination of health, focus and carries in the first half. He hasn't had those three things this season. Then he limps off field late in the second quarter and wasn't the same again. We should get an update on Bolden's health tomorrow afternoon on Nutt's conference call.
Jeff Scott left the game with some sort of injury, or maybe he just got his bell rung in the fourth quarter. I never saw him on crutches or anything, but he did appear to be jogging on the sideline at one point like he was trying to get his legs back under him.
Speaking of Bolden and Scott, they were in the game at the same time often, sometimes as split backs, sometimes with either split wide.
If lack of carries vs. Fresno was a factor that led to Bolden's distraction/suspension, there were more today. He carried just six times at Fresno, 14 today. Would have carried more, I'm sure, but it looks like the injury factored into that.
Missing starting cornerback Marcus Temple, Ole Miss coaches reluctantly moved Charles Sawyer back to cornerback, not because they didn't think Sawyer could handle things but because he'd played so well at safety.
The result was a big day for Sawyer, who had three pass break-ups, but for the whole secondary as well. Six other players had a PBU. That was nine in the game for a team that only had 12 on the season going in.
The Rebels really did OK defending the deep balls. They got hurt with Joe Adams catch-and-run in the third quarter. That speaks to tackling and angles more than coverage. Not that you can discount tackles and angles. That's part of defense, and the Rebels aren't very good at it right now.
Arkansas had a good bit of 19- and 20-yard stuff against certain coverages, but to hold Tyler Wilson to less than 50 percent passing and without a touchdown pass will help the Rebels' pass defense efficiency rating.
Sometimes numbers are deceiving. Wilson's passing game helped set up a couple of short touchdown runs, two 1-yard scores in the third quarter that he handled himself.
Ole Miss had no penalties against Alabama but reverted today with 12 flags for 85 yards, some not-so-smart stuff in there, shoving a late hit and the like. It's the fifth time this year Ole Miss has had 50-plus penalty yards.
What kicker Bryson Rose has done as a former walk-on is impressive. He knocked through a 43-yarder today, his career-long. The Rebels haven't gotten into field goal position often this season, and Rose has just four attempts. He's hit all four and has hit 14 straight going back to last season. Rose is now 20-for-22 on field goal attempts for his career.
With a 10-game SEC losing streak in tow, the Rebels head to Auburn this week. I'm not thinking Ole Miss wins, but it will be interesting to see how Auburn responds to its 45-10 loss at LSU. It was the first start for Clint Moseley at quarterback for Auburn.