By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Evan Swindall disagreed with his coach on Monday. He thought Hugh Freeze might have overreached a little in assessing the Rebels’ offensive line.
Freeze used the term “manhandled” to describe Georgia’s physical defensive front, the primary reason the Rebels were unable to run the football in a 37-10 loss in Athens.
It marked the second-straight week the Rebels failed to reach 100 yards.
Earlier this season, with quarterback Bo Wallace and running back Jeff Scott leading the way with the read option, Ole Miss ranked among the SEC leaders in rushing.
The last two weeks, the Rebels have run for a combined 123 yards on 66 carries, an average gain of 1.86 yards.
Georgia held Ole Miss to 46 yards on 29 carries.
“Offensively, they manhandled and beat us up front. They played a cover-two base and we couldn’t block them,” Freeze said.
Swindall, the Rebels’ junior center said, “I didn’t feel manhandled. I don’t think it was that. It was a miscommunication between the guard and me or the tackle and the guard.”
What Freeze needs to decide, as Vanderbilt visits Saturday night with bowl-eligibility on the line for both teams, is how much tweaking needs to be done to the plan.
Although Georgia was coming off a very successful game against Florida – also holding the Gators below 100 rushing yards – other teams had run on the Bulldogs.
Such is the case with Vanderbilt. The Commodores will blitz and take chances, but they’re giving up 164.3 yards a game on the ground, 10th in the league.
Wallace said Georgia did a good job of “slow-playing” against the option, making it tough for him to read.
Freeze gave more credit to Georgia’s physical skills, both strength and speed.
“In previous games, some of our plays have been very good to us in those kinds of looks,” he said.
Freeze was pleased with how Ole Miss ran the ball in the first half against Arkansas but said adjustments by the Razorbacks’ coaching staff led to run struggles after halftime.
Ultimately, the Rebels were successful in their tempo offense and were able to drive down a kick a short field goal to win.
Compared to Arkansas, Georgia was a “whole different animal,” Freeze said.
“We’ve got to stay on blocks. That’s the main thing,” says Scott, whose rushing numbers have slipped the last two weeks. “The guys are hooking up with the right guys. We have to finish blocks, and to help those guys out, I have to be more patient.”
Whether it’s a matter of execution, talent or scheme, there’s a certain look and timing to the Freeze offense when it’s in sync. The look has been missing much of the last two weeks.
“We didn’t play with an edge offensively (at Georgia). We take that personally as coaches. Hopefully we can get that edge and swagger back for this week against Vandy,” Freeze said.