Some Ole Miss reaction after the Rebels' 38-28 win over Fresno State. Clearly the Rebels' best offensive performance. Defense was better later in the game but struggled to slow down Fresno.
The Rebels finished with 430 yards of offense, 216 on ground. Jeff Scott carried 25 times for 140 yards, two scores. Randall Mackey was 8-for-18 passing, 214 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.
Fresno gained 443 yards, 281 passing from Derek Carr, 122 rushing from Robbie Rouse.
(Talk about your decision to start Randall Mackey over Zack Stoudt at QB?)
"It's not that we're down on Zack. I think Zack's done a good job for us. We just needed something a little different. He was ready to go, but we weren't going to jerk Mackey early. We didn't want him to look over his shoulder. We said, 'Look, you're going in to play the game. You're going to make a mistake. That's OK. Take care of the ball, do the best you can, and play like I know you can play.'”
(Looks like you still need to clean up some penalties?)
“Yeah, no question about it, there's no excuse for that. Charles especially (taking a bow after the INT), but he's gotten away with it, a couple of games before. You just can't do that. You can't have penalties. That's the bottom line.”
(Given the atmosphere around the program the last few weeks, how critical was this one?)
“If you don't win it you can just imagine, what you're going to say, what you're going to write. Y'all can figure that one out. You know it would be bad, no question about it.”
(Did you give any thought to not going for two after the penalty?)
"No, I was going to stick with it. We had a good play (fade to Donte Moncrief). We thought we could still execute our play."
(Why was the execution on offense better? Was it only Mackey or were there other reasons?)
“Well, you had your backs back. Brandon Bolden full speed, Enrique Davis, Jeff Scott. It makes a difference when you have a running game then Melvin (Harris, WR). We had everybody on point, and this team needs every single body on that sideline.”
(Why Alex Washington over Aaron Morris at left guard?)
“Just the knowledge. Aaron's going to be great but just the knowledge of the game. He knows the plays.”
(How much did it help you guys to have Mackey completing the passes that he did?)
“It helped a lot. We came out and opened up with pass plays to open up the run, then we start running the ball to open up the pass plays. Just keep going. It's like a puzzle. You just have to keep putting the pieces where they need to go."
(Did you feel better tonight with the ankle than you've felt all year?)
“I felt 10 times better, the best I've felt since the injury.”
(Is this the type of offense you feel like you guys can be?)
“We can be even better. We left a couple of points out there. We didn't execute on every play, but we did enough to get the win. All we have to do his go back to work, make our corrections, and we can be even better.”
(How did Randall do in the huddle and getting you guys lined up?)
“Randall did an excellent job. He's chief and commander, and that's what he's supposed to do. He took control of the offense.”
(How important was it to just get a win?)
“Oh it was very important. We needed that confidence, needed to get that swagger back, and that's what we did in this game. Everybody did a great job, special teams, defense, offense, O line. Mackey did a great job at quarterback, made great decisions.”
“I have been so humbled, I'm just thankful to God for that victory tonight. I know they have believers on the other team too, but I only know what I prayed all week, and I'm thankful for answered prayer.”
(Comments on Mackey)
"That's the bright spot. We've been trying to start this guy two or three times. You guys know the history, know what's happened here. Hopefully he has grown up. We'll see how he handles success. I think he'll do fine and only get better every week. We'll get a test here in a couple of weeks and find out.”
(You've been scaling back the offense. How much did you do with Randall, and how much more can he do?)
“Randall was great. He had no problems communicating, no problems getting signals from the sideline. He was in control of the clock, no 25-second penalties, nothing even close. He managed the game so well. We were really proud of that. We had scaled back and scaled back, but I'm always asking continually, 'Is this too much, what do you now like, we'll throw that out. I got that from pro football. I used to coach college football and never asked them anything. Pro football, that's what you do. That's what I've done with him. It's helped me get to know what he likes and what he can execute, and that's what you saw tonight.”
(You were down 28-27, and you guys had the 15-play drive. What stands out on that drive for you?)
“I just remember being in a rhythm and feeling things. The whole key is when you can run block, you can run the football, it's so much easier to call the plays, because we've got a great play-action package. I believe in play-action, but it's only good if you can run the football. You look what happened to us in the first two or three games. The inability to run it hurt our pass protection, hurt everything. Zack Stoudt has not played badly at all with the exception of Vanderbilt. I'm not proud we've started three quarterbacks in five weeks, but when you're sitting there 1-3 and going 3,000 miles from home … Houston came to me early in the week and said, 'Hey, I want to go with Randall Mackey.' I said, 'Let's go.' That's where he and I have been good with quarterbacks in the past. I trust his instincts, he trusts mine. It was his idea to start Randall, and it was a good call. Give him the credit.”
(Why was the run game so much better tonight?)
“I like have all of our backs healthy. In the NFL we had Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. Now we've got these two here (Jeff Scott and Bolden) plus Enrique Davis. We didn't get Enrique in as much as we wanted to, but I have a lot of confidence in him as well as Devin Thomas. I just think two weeks in a row our offensive line has really improved. They're getting better. They get better, and we get better.”
“We've really tried to stress to our kids to finish strong. We finish practice stronger every day than we start, and we finish each game the same way. Hopefully we'll be at our best in the fourth quarter.
“Our kids played a little better (in the second half). Our offense stayed on the field more, and that helped us, and our kids gained some confidence as the game went on. The biggest thing is we finished strong, and that's something to build on.”
“No doubt, we made some critical plays, and that's going to happen in football. We gave up some we didn't like. All in all our kids kept believing and kept fighting. We were able to go coast to coast and beat a good football team. Now we go back home and get ready for more SEC play.
(Fresno's Derek Carr pretty good?)
“He has some outstanding receivers, and he's really heady with the football. He's a talented, talented football player, and he understands the passing game well.”
(What was going on with Wesley Pendleton tonight?)
“That's the first game he's really been challenged and hasn't won many of his 1-on-1 battles. All in all he's covered probably better than all of our corners all year. We still believe in Wesley. He'll battle back, and he'll be back there in the starting lineup next week. The bottom line is we faced a good quarterback, and good receiver, and you need 10 other guys applying pressure and doing their jobs as well. For us, we put him on that guy for a specific reason. We felt like he was our best.”