By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Wash, rinse and repeat.
In basketball you might refer to it as “muscle memory,” a 3-point shooter getting in the gym early and late and putting up shots.
When game time comes, it’s automatic.
It’s not enough to just go through the motions, but when the simple things are done over and over, done daily and weekly and done in the correct manner, that’s when you find precision and chemistry
And that’s what Ole Miss players believe they’ve found in one of Hugh Freeze’s favorite play calls, the read option.
It’s not a very different method from the one BYU used to rush for 550 yards against Texas, a bad night in the mountains that got Manny Diaz run off from the ranch.
Priority One for new Longhorns defensive coordinator Greg Robinson when Ole Miss visits this weekend is to slow down the run game.
When the numbers 5-5-0 reached Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott, he did a double take.
“I was like, ‘Wow,’ like, ‘Are you serious?’” Scott said.
The Rebels’ run game wasn’t bad against the Longhorns last year. Scott had 95 yards, half of those on a 48-yard touchdown scamper.
The problem was Texas was pretty good in the run game too and off-set the Ole Miss success with 350 rush yards of its own.
No matter the level of Texas turbulence that memory and others keep the Rebels from lunging at fools’ gold and the idea that Saturday night at Memorial Stadium will be easy.
“They beat us by 30 points last year. They had more talent than us probably, more depth at least. We feel like we’re talented,” Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace said.
While the success of wide receiver Donte Moncrief led to a party song, nowhere has Ole Miss talent shown itself more than in the read option.
Over the course of a four-game win streak spanning two seasons the Rebels have rushed for 233.75 yards a game.
It was Wallace with his reads and good timing who was the team’s second-leading rusher in 2012, not another running back.
He got off to a fast start again this season with 48 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt. Scott followed suit with his 75-yard game-winner.
“There’s never a day that goes by that they don’t have running mesh drills, because that’s such a big part of who we are,” Freeze said. “It’s all about the number of reps they’ve been able to accumulate over the course of a year and a half.”
Another big part of who the Rebels are is the up-tempo game. Neither fast football nor the read option was something Ole Miss players picked up overnight.
“I kind of struggled with learning the offense, but as the year went on we started to get better. Now it’s my second year, I understand everything that’s going on, not only my assignment but everybody else around me,” Scott said.
Scott rushed for 846 yards and set his goal at 1,000 for this season.
A big game at Texas would fuel the tempo and the read option and could help the Rebels move to 3-0.
“It took us a few weeks, but once we got used to it we took off,” Scott said. “I think we’re pretty good right now, but as the season goes on, we’re only going to get better.”