By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – With depth a season-long concern, Ole Miss lost another player against Vanderbilt when senior tight end Ferbia Allen sustained a torn medial collateral knee ligament.
The two tight ends behind Allen on the depth chart are seniors Jamal Mosley, who has played extensively, and H.R. Greer, a converted fullback, who has not.
“With Ferbia’s injury we’re at about 59 scholarship players,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “The worse place we’re hit is the back end of our defense. The only place we’re really rotating people is on the interior defensive line. On the back side we’re not afforded the opportunity to rotate a lot of kids.”
Allen, of Pine Bluff, Ark., went into the Vanderbilt game leading the team in career games played (47) and starts (31).
He has seven catches for 123 yards this season.
Freeze said he’ll continue to take his shots in the run game, even though the Rebels have struggled there of late, averaging just 1.68 yards per carry over the last three games.
Improvement could come from better decisions by the running backs, he said.
“We can always look at the film and think we could have blocked this better and it would have been positive run, or the running back should have put his foot in the ground and gotten us 4 yards instead of minus-1,” Freeze said.
Vanderbilt often blitzed against the run and running back Jeff Scott, held to 47 yards on 24 attempts, could have made better decisions.
Freeze: “There were a lot of times that we wish he would have maybe made a different decision on where he put his foot in the ground and ended the run. The whole premise of our offense is staying on schedule. A 2-yard gain or a minus-1 is big for us in the scope of things.”
While quarterback Bo Wallace passed for 403 yards, the fifth-best single-game total in school history, the Rebels must continue to run to at least keep defenses honest.
“The minute they think you won’t, you’re going to have issues in protection, which we struggle some with anyway,” Freeze said.
Costly blown coverage
Freeze said Vanderbilt’s winning score – a 26-yard pass from Jordan Rodgers to Chris Boyd with 52 seconds left – was the result of a blown coverage.
He talked with defensive coordinator Dave Wommack about the call before the play.
“It was an absolute blown coverage. I was on the head-sets with them and thought it was a great call, the coverage we had. Unfortunately, our kids didn’t communicate very well with each other.”
Cornerback Charles Sawyer was beaten on the play.
“Instead of playing cover 2, we should have played man. It happened in a critical situation,” Sawyer said.