Effort in some areas was questionable, but there was an interesting mix on defense with solid effort from a number of freshmen and from senior end Kentrell Lockett, who, coming off major knee surgery, has never quite regained the form that made him an All-SEC caliber player in 2009.
Poor performance on the offensive line was the root problem. La. Tech had 12 tackles for loss and three sacks.
Keys to victory
Evaluating the keys to victory in Saturday’s GameDay section:
1. Protect the football. Not even close. Three turnovers, two returned for touchdowns. Quarterback Randall Mackey fumbled three times, losing two, one returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Zack Stoudt had an interception returned for a touchdown on his first pass attempt early in the fourth quarter.
2. Show some fire. Not much heat from the Rebels. The offensive line was dominated, a big factor – not the only factor – in the inconsistent play at quarterback.
Mackey was on the run throughout the game, and the running game averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt.
There was more emotion and better results on defense where some individual efforts from Serderius Bryant, Kentrell Lockett and Senquez Golson stood out.
3. Don’t beat yourself. Penalties weren’t the problem, the mistake yards down to 59 from the 93 that hurt the Rebels in last week’s 30-13 loss at Kentucky. It was the turnovers.
C.J. Johnson. The freshman defensive end drew the first start of his career and posted nine tackles, a career high. He had a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
You can debate whether the Rebels have quit, but there’s no debating that daunting task that stands between Ole Miss and a 2-10 season – No. 1 LSU at home and rival Mississippi State on the road.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt promised the full attention and energy of the coaching staff over the final games, but the Rebels may have drifted too far in the wrong direction to be retrieved.