Delving deeper into the Ole Miss running game and offensive line woes against Southern Illinois, a concern moving forward into practice this week.
It was the speed guys who were getting caught, not the bigger backs. Jeff Scott, Korvic Neat and Randall Mackey were all caught behind the line.
The Salukis were credited with nine tackles for loss. There was a 10th negative yardage play when Neat tried to get the corner but was forced out of bounds for a 1-yard loss.
Led by Scott’s 118 yards, the Rebels finished with 179 yards on the ground.
Devin Thomas carried nine times and had no negative yardage.
There were five other rush attempts that went for 1 yard or no gain, and two of those went to Thomas.
Offensive coordinator David Lee was very pleased with the running game on the Rebels’ final drive, a seven-play 64-yard effort. All plays were on the ground, and there were none for lost yardage.
The drive began with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the game, so you factor defensive fatigue at that point.
Thomas had 39 of his 42 yards then, capping the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Line coach Mike Markuson talked last week about how an offensive line gets in a rhythm with a running back. Markuson wasn’t making an excuse. He talked about a lot of other aspects of his unit’s play, but chemistry with the backs is one factor.
Brandon Bolden was averaging 5.2 yards a carry when he was injured early in the second quarter against BYU. It’s not a stretch to think he breaks a couple of plays, and perhaps Ole Miss wins the opener if he stays in the game.
It’s quite possible that Enrique Davis is back this week. That would give the Rebels a power back they didn’t have against SIU, a back with which they worked much more in August than they did with Korvic Neat and Devin Thomas.
It also seems like a good time to get Mackey more involved in the run game too.
Vanderbilt is 2-0 because of its defense, which ranks No. 23 in the nation after wins against Elon and U Conn. The Commodores are averaging 7.5 tackles for loss per game, third in the SEC, in the top 30 nationally.
Vandy tackle Rob Lohr had four tackles for loss last week and has been named the SEC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week.