Notes and observations from the latest SEC loss for Ole Miss, this one 30-13 at Kentucky. ...
As I write this morning, somewhere on I-65 south of Elizabethtown, there's no confirmation that Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has been fired.
Twitter was alive with that talk late Saturday night after the Rebels' come-from-ahead loss to Kentucky.
Nutt addressed his job status following the game, only to say it was out of his hands. “It's not my decision,” he said.
Speculation regarding Nutt's future has been rampant and hit a fever pitch when the Rebels lost by 17 points in a game that basically would determine the worst team in the SEC. There's no trophy for that, and such a designation is strictly perception. But on Nov. 5, 2011, that was the perception for many folks.
Against a vulnerable opponent with a true freshman quarterback making his first start, the Rebels gave up 398 total yards.
Maxwell Smith completed 19-of-36 attempts for 283 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.
Kentucky, as most teams do, also ran the ball against Ole Miss. The Wildcats did not become the seventh team to surpass 200 rushing yards, but 5-foot-9, 178-pound junior
CoShik Williams, who had just 274 rushing yards going into the game, no more than 64 against an SEC opponent, had 111 and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Again porous on defense, the Rebels were inconsistent on offense.
Two strong drives to start the game produced field goals instead of touchdowns. The non-catch by Ja-Mes Logan on the first drive was a bad sign.
His slant route in the end zone wasn't a drop. It would have been a good catch, but it's a catch that good players make, one that Logan has made before. But not yesterday.
Seems odd they targeted Logan on the play anyway, since he's been de-emphasized among the receivers.
They didn't target him the second time. From 3 yards out, Donte Moncrief caught a fade in the end zone, but was called for pushing off, and the touchdown was negated.
Those two drives were all the Rebels could muster in the first half. Their next four possessions included three three-and-outs and an interception.
They drove 72 yards in 12 plays to score on Randall Mackey's 21-yard pass to Nick Brassell to take a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.
After three weeks of getting outscored 61-0 in the third, it was a nice change of pace, but it didn't last.
Kentucky had been getting receivers open downfield, and Smith was finally able to connect with those guys late in the game.
From the press box we discussed why Kentucky didn't just keeping handing it to Williams.
They were having success in the run game. It was how it moved most of 80 yards for its first touchdown and a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter.
UK coach Joker Phillips didn't stay committed to the run, though. Maybe he saw what we saw, and that was Kentucky receivers getting open. They were close in the passing game, and that's Smith's strength. Finally he connected for 38 yards as La'Rod King beat Nick Brassell for a score, and later for 55 yards as King got behind Wesley Pendleton.
Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix didn't think coverage was a game-long issue.
“They didn't have a lot of success with deep balls till the end of the game. Throughout the game we played the deep ball well,” he said. “The latter part of the game we gave up a couple. Ideally you'd like to be in position to make the play on every ball that's thrown, but that's a part of football. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don't.”
Breaks Ole Miss might have gotten on a potential go-ahead scoring drive late in the fourth didn't go the Rebels' way, because they self-destructed with 25 yards in penalties, two holding calls and a false start. Ultimately the Rebels punted from near mid-field.
It was the last good chance for them to pull out a win. Though Kentucky was back at its 15, the Wildcats seized opportunity with an 85-yard drive highlighted by King's 55-yard catch. It was Kentucky's second 80-plus yard drive of the fourth quarter.
The Ole Miss SEC losing streak is now at 12 games. It won't be extended this week, regardless of who coaches the Rebels, because it's a non-conference game, homecoming, against La. Tech, which by the way, defeated Fresno State 41-21 at Fresno last night.
Following the Nutt story today and will post more when I know more.