A few thoughts and observations here after what was indeed a measuring stick for Ole Miss. …
The Rebels’ offense is pretty good. Texas has a very good defense, and Ole Miss was able to put up 399 yards and 31 points.
There were warning signs with what we saw on defense. Ole Miss had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete passes at a 72 percent success rate over the first two games against Central Arkansas and UTEP.
Texas had little success in the vertical passing game over the first two weeks, but the Rebels were unable to keep up with Texas receivers downfield and David Ash made them pay.
When the dust cleared Texas had 676 yards of offense, and Ole Miss had given up its most points since Sewanee scored 69 in 1917.
“Defensively we were bad. We’ve got to go find out exactly why. Offensively we did some good things and put up some yards on a really good defense,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
The Ole Miss pass rush, effective in the first two weeks, was unable to get to Ash. No sacks for Ole Miss against Texas after registering nine over the first two weeks.
It looked like the magnitude of the game got to the Rebels at times, not just the Texas talent. The least penalized team in the SEC going into the game, the Rebels had two false starts in the first quarter and ultimately had a rare personal foul. They finished with five penalties for 55 yards.
The turnover bug that plagued Bo Wallace through most of camp showed up in a game for the first time, as Wallace threw three picks, one returned 22 yards for a score by a Texas linebacker, the game’s first points.
One of Freeze’s big talking points in the off-season has been to compete for 60 minutes. I thought the Rebels did that. I thought they competed, gave effort, but they were clearly out-talented on defense.
That can’t be the theme they fall back on after bad games. They’re going to have to find ways to do more with less. Every team won’t have Texas speed, but the SEC schedule begins Sept. 29 against Alabama. There will be speed on that team too.
Freeze and his defensive staff are going to have to find a way to close the gap.
Bright spots for Ole Miss included another solid night for Jeff Scott, who had 95 yards on eight carries and a 48-yard touchdown run in which he bounced off contact near the line of scrimmage.
Donte Moncrief had seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown, the touchdown covering 75 yards. It was the third time in three games that Wallace and Moncrief have teamed up for a touchdown play that covered more than 50 yards.
Freshman Jaylen Walton scored a touchdown for the third-straight week, this time on special teams as he returned a kick 100 yards for a score.
It was interesting to see Cliff Coleman start ahead of Senquez Golson at cornerback. Obviously neither made a difference in the secondary. I asked defensive coordinator Dave Wommack last Saturday if he was giving Coleman a closer look as a starter, but he kind of shrugged that off. Coleman finished with eight tackles and broke up two passes. Ole Miss had only three pass break-ups, the other going to end Jason Jones.
There was more playing time for Channing Ward, and he was in and around several plays including giving a long, hard but ultimately unsuccessful chase after Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin – a member of the US Olympic team as a long jumper – on Goodwin’s 69-yard touchdown run. Ward was credited with three tackles and a half tackle for loss.