By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – When Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace was overcome by a humanitarian spirit, Buffalo Wild Wings gained a lot of business.
Wallace didn’t necessarily call out his offensive linemen a week ago, but he also didn’t let their performance against Auburn – in which Wallace was sacked six times – pass without comment.
“We need to get better up front,” he said.
It was an obvious statement and one the Rebels’ linemen had already heard from head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke.
Wallace is an outspoken team leader, but public performance assessment of a position that isn’t his could have rubbed some teammates wrong.
Senior tackle Emmanuel McCray said that didn’t happen.
“No, we knew we were responsible. A lot of guys got beat in some one-on-one things. Sometimes you’ve just got to buckle down.”
That being said, it didn’t hurt McCray’s feelings when Wallace gathered his offensive linemen together to go out and eat wings.
Wallace paid the bill. He would not confirm the total except to say, “It was a lot.”
It was worth it, he said, because there was a lot of improvement from Auburn to Texas A&M for the Rebels’ offensive line.
Wallace was sacked just once by the Aggies, only the second time this season he’d been sacked fewer than two times in a game.
By being more physical at the point of attack, the Rebels also revived an inside running game with sophomores I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton getting more carries while leading rusher Jeff Scott was slowed with a thigh bruise that will likely keep him out of Saturday’s game against No. 6 LSU.
Walton averaged 5.9 yards per carry, Mathers 3.9.
Wallace said the offensive line played with much more passion against Texas A&M. “They came out and competed harder. You could definitely tell,” he said.
LSU’s defense is coming off its best performance of the season in holding Florida to 240 yards in a 17-6 win.
“We wanted to play more physical, play with a chip on our shoulder, and I think we did that,” said McCray, who endorsed the “heavy package” for a successful outing. That alignment includes McCray at tight end, Patrick Junen and right tackle and tight end Bo Bigham in the backfield, along with the regulars of Laremy Tunsil, Jared Duke, center Evan Swindall and Justin Bell.
Swindall claims to have eaten the fewest wings at 15, while Duke, by Swindall’s count, was the winner at around 30.
Wallace wants to make “wing night” a weekly event.
“I just felt like I needed to be closer to them than I was, to get with them every week and go out. I need to be as close as I can with them because you’re going to fight harder for the guy you love and want to do it for him.”