OXFORD – Jesse Grandy started the game with a bang for Ole Miss. Fifteen minutes later, the Rebels’ offense caught up with him.
Ole Miss rolled up 501 yards, at one point scoring on six straight possessions, to defeat Alabama-Birmingham 48-13 before a homecoming crowd of 47,612 on Saturday night.
Ole Miss has scored at least 45 points in each of its three non-conference games but has scored 10 points or fewer in two of three SEC games. Ole Miss returns to SEC play here next weekend against Arkansas.
“You know how I feel about that one,” said Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who coached the Razorbacks from 1998-2007.
With the Rebels eager to distance themselves from last week’s 22-3 loss to Alabama, the freshman Grandy returned the game’s opening kick 88 yards for a score, hurdling one of his blockers on the way to the end zone.
It was the first career touchdown for Grandy, who was inserted as one of the deep backs on kicks last week.
Grandy’s dash gave the Rebels a fast start, but things slowed considerably when Ole Miss (4-2) took the ball on offense.
The Rebels had just one first down on their first two possessions and didn’t cross midfield until the second quarter.
But they turned on the jets then. The Rebels gained just 45 yards in the first quarter, just 11 on six rushing attempts, but had touchdown drives of 16, 81 and 87 yards in the second period.
Freshman Rodney Scott, who has moved ahead of senior Cordera Eason in the playing rotation, capped the long drives, scoring on runs of 1 and 25 yards.
Snead connected with Lionel Breaux in the middle of the field, and Breaux cut to the right to complete a 20-yard touchdown play.
While run blocking was slow to develop, protection was good most of the night. Snead was comfortable in the pocket and showed the form that had him mentioned among the nation’s top quarterbacks in the preseason.
He played three quarters and passed for 240 yards with 15-for-22 efficiency, both season highs.
“That’s the Jevan we know,” Nutt said. “If we can keep him like that he’ll be fine, and our offense will take off. When he starts hitting passes he gets in a rhythm and gets confidence. It’s a new sense of attitude.”
Snead finished with no interceptions and three touchdown passes, throwing scores of 65 yards to Markeith Summers and 2 yards to fullback Andy Hartmann in the third quarter.
He was pleased to see the execution of the offense overall and admitted to a tough week.
“It was frustrating, because I knew what we could do, and it wasn’t happening. I wanted to come out and have a good night and let the great players around me make big plays,” Snead said.
It was a far cry from the Snead who appeared rattled in the pocket by the Crimson Tide last week when he completed just 11-of-34 attempts and threw four interceptions.
Stanley mops up
Redshirt freshman Nathan Stanley played the fourth quarter and completed 6-of-9 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. He guided the Rebels 62 yards on his first possession, passing 38 yards to Grandy and 22 yards to Andrew Harris for a touchdown that gave Ole Miss a 48-7 lead. It was the sixth straight Ole Miss possession to end with a touchdown.
“They were about like we thought they’d be. I thought our defensive line would be able to do some things better. It didn’t work out that way,” UAB coach Neil Callaway said.
UAB (2-4) avoided the shutout when quarterback Joe Webb scored on a 3-yard run with 14 minutes, 17 seconds to play. It was only the second touchdown allowed in the last nine quarters by the Ole Miss defense.
The Blazers tacked on field goals of 43 and 34 yards, the latter on the last play of the game.
After getting 138 yards in the first quarter, UAB had 213 the rest of the way. The Blazers rushed for 230 yards, 121 by Webb.
“We ran the quarterback. It was a nice job blocking up front, but again, we didn’t get any points out of it,” Callaway said. “Joe is a good athlete, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal