There were five touchdown passes for the Rebels, three from Bo Wallace and two from Barry Brunetti.
The running game was better, and the defense came up with some important stops to swing momentum and keep the Rebels in the game. Pass protection was better. The Rebels gave up only one sack after allowing six at Auburn.
That run game was facing a defense giving up almost 215 yards a game on the ground and could have done more.
Ditto the passing game. It’s not a very good A&M defense, and the Ole Miss offense needed to do more – and could have done more – to win the game.
Keys to Victory
(Updating the game keys from Saturday’s GameDay preview)
1.Run the football
Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers are both more physical runners than Jeff Scott, and the two sophomores looked good for stretches of play.
There was more success running between the tackles but not so much that Hugh Freeze felt confident in attacking the middle on the Rebels’ last possession.
2.Get Manziel to the ground
Tackling A&M’s Johnny Manziel wasn’t the problem. Getting to him was. Many times Ole Miss did not try to pressure Manziel. That was the plan. The problem came with Manziel’s excellent vision and his ability to find wide open spaces to scramble when receivers were covered. The Rebels didn’t get many clean shots against him.
3. Distract Evans
Texas A&M’s 6-foot-5 wide receiver, Mike Evans, had four catches for 46 yards and was not a huge factor in the game.
Ole Miss started Derrick Jones, their 6-3 freshman, but Jones didn’t play all that much.
Jaylen Walton. The sophomore running back averaged 5.9 yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 61 yards, one of them a 50-yard touchdown.
The Rebels may have suffered a loss that lingers not from an emotional standpoint but a physical one. The injury list, particularly on defense, was long and painful, and how many of these players can go against LSU remains to be seen. A less imposing part of the schedule is coming, but the Rebels have to survive the present to be in shape to make hay then.