Early kickoff for Rebels

OleMissLogoBy Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – If you’re enjoying this story with your morning coffee, you won’t have too long to wait before Ole Miss kicks off against Troy at 11 a.m.

Rebels coach Hugh Freeze hopes you won’t wait much longer before you see Ole Miss put points on the scoreboard.

Lots of points.

The Rebels have amassed more than 500 yards in three straight games and in four of the last five.

There’s been a little disconnect, though, between the yards and points for the Rebels.

Freeze says that disconnect isn’t much and hopes to see his offense finish drives better against the Trojans, whose defense has been as wide open as their offense.

Troy, of the Sun Belt Conference, is giving up 35.2 points a game, No. 105 out of the 123 FBS teams. The Trojans are allowing 462.2 yards a game, which ranks No. 106.

This week Freeze reviewed video of his two games against Troy while coaching at Arkansas State.

“They’ve changed very little,” he said. “They have a new defensive coordinator, but they’re very similar. Maybe they’re playing a little more man.”

Air game soars

That could play well into the Rebels’ hands. Freeze says the passing offense has hit another gear, and receivers are dropping fewer balls than they did earlier in the season.

“Any time you’re in the plus-30 range it’s a good average. You always want more. I wish we’d have stuck a couple of touchdowns in the other day when we got in the red zone, and we didn’t,” he said. “We’re probably 5, 6 or 7 points off of what it realistically should be with the yards we’re getting. We’re probably a little behind on the scoring but not far.”

The Rebels were 4-for-4 in red zone chances but twice settled for short field goals – including once having reached the 1-yard line – in their 34-24 win over Arkansas.

Ole Miss put up 531 yards against the Hogs. The Rebels amassed 525 yards against LSU but had only 24 points until Andrew Ritter’s game-winning field goal on the next to last play.

The Rebels rank No. 27 nationally, No. 5 in the SEC in total offense at 469.9 yards a game. Those rankings are No. 45 and No. 7 in scoring offense at 32.7 points a game.

By comparison, LSU is getting 37.9 points a game – Nos. 21 and 5 – from its 460.4 yards which rank No. 34 and No. 6.

“If you take out the SEMO game (Southeast Missouri State) when we pulled everyone and didn’t do well in the second half, we’d probably be top 20, top 10 in the nation,” Freeze said.

He’s hopeful to see increased production in the last three games.

“Our receivers are playing well, playing better the last few games. We haven’t had the drops that we had early on,” Freeze said. “We’ve been more effectively running the ball. Hopefully we’re getting ready to hit our stride a little bit.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com