By Parrish Alford
AUBURN, Ala. – Ole Miss offensive players reached out across the ball late Saturday night with a message for their defensive teammates.
“This one was on us.”
The Rebels were beaten thoroughly in a 25-0 loss at Alabama, their first defeat of the season.
“After the game, a couple of offensive players went to the defense and told them, ‘The loss is on us, because we didn’t put up a certain amount of points.’ We took responsibility for that loss,” senior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan said.
Ole Miss coaches and players are hopeful for better offensive results tonight when the No. 24 Rebels take on Auburn.
The Tigers are also 3-1 coming off a 35-21 loss at LSU two weeks ago. Hugh Freeze’s close friend, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, has had two weeks to prepare.
Malzahn will run an up- tempo offense similar to what Freeze has installed at Ole Miss.
Neither the tempo nor anything else was successful for the Rebels at Alabama. Ole Miss had run more than 80 plays twice and had run 72 plays at Texas but was limited to 57 snaps against the Crimson Tide and averaged just 1.8 yards per rush in the game.
It was the first time an Ole Miss team had failed to score since 1998.
It was also not a true reflection of what the team has grown to become, Logan said.
“It was very tough, because I know what type of team we really are, and I know our potential on the offensive side.”
While Malzahn pushes the pace on offense, there’s been a mixed bag of results for the rebuilding Auburn defense.
Under veteran defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, the Tigers are next to last in the SEC in total defense, giving up 439.5 yards a game, much of that on the ground where opponents are averaging 6.8 yards a carry.
Auburn, though, has done a much better job of keeping opponents out of the end zone, their 22 points per game allowed ranking sixth in the SEC.
In the season opener, Washington State ran 88 plays and amassed 464 yards – 344 passing – but Auburn forced four turnovers and won 31-24.
Freeze earlier this week called on his offensive linemen to win more one-one-one battles along the line of scrimmage.
“They’re bigger and stronger inside than what we’ve seen before,” offensive line coach Matt Luke said. “They did some good things with their scheme that took away some of our stuff, but it obviously gave us some other things that we didn’t capitalize the way we should have.
“When a defense gives you one thing you’ve got to take advantage of what they’re giving you in another area.”