Notes and observations from the Rebels’ 33-14 loss at No. 1 Alabama …
To me, the Ole Miss player who’s made the biggest Year 1 to Year 2 to jump is Donte Moncrief, even though he was really good as a freshman, he’s played at a different level this season.
Alabama simply took Moncrief away, his biggest contribution a 31-yard catch on a fade on the Rebels’ first touchdown drive. He had only one other catch in the game and did not get in the end zone for the first time this year.
Vince Sanders had a nice game with seven catches. I thought we’d have seen more from Collins Moore, but he had just one catch for 5 yards.
Moncrief is going to get double coverage most of the time, and Hugh Freeze is going to have to be more creative with ways to get him the ball.
Randall Mackey had extensive time at quarterback, something that probably occurrerd in those three practice periods we were asked not to watch during the week.
I don’t know what changed in the second half, but the Rebels were able to get much more pressure on A.J. McCarron then. Had they bothered him as much in the first half, Alabama still wins, but a 33-14 game is closer.
The Rebels sacked McCarron just once, but they were more physical along the line of scrimmage, and they got much better pressure against him in the second half.
Cody Prewitt and Denzel Nkemdiche had big games as the Rebels were good tacklers in the open field keeping Alabama from big plays.
Nkemdiche finished with three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Alabama averaged 3.7 yards per rush, it’s longest run a 23-yard gain by Eddie Lacy. Ole Miss did this without a couple of tackles who have been important in the rotation, Uriah Grant and Woodrow Hamilton, who are still out with injury.
Freshman Issac Gross was able to use his quickness against the Tide’s bigger offensive line, finishing with six tackles and a tackle for loss. Gross had the most tackles of any of the Rebels’ interior linemen. Next was Gilbert Pena with two.
The bottom line is nobody expected Ole Miss to win this game, and many did not expect the Rebels to even compete.
The defense took a major step forward from the Texas game, and while the offense scored fewer points than it did against the Longhorns, much of the success against Texas was a result of big plays.
In Tuscaloosa the Rebels worked harder for what they got and still got it done with drives of 70 and 75 yards.
Ole Miss is an improved football team, but finding its way into the SEC win column is going to take consistency on both sides of the ball.
The physicality shown by the defense has to become a trend, not an isolated incident, and the offense is going to have to eliminate turnovers and negative-yardage plays. Both of Alabama’s touchdown drives began after interceptions, the first of those setting up the Tide at the Ole Miss 35. The second had Alabama starting back at its 32. It took 13 plays from there, but Alabama ultimately reached the end zone.
The Rebels have Texas A&M and Auburn on campus over the next two weeks. It’s a stretch to call Ole Miss a favorite against Texas A&M after the way the Aggies destroyed Arkansas on Saturday.
Arkansas is floundering, and it’s not a stretch to see Ole Miss moving the ball and winning against Texas A&M.
It won’t happen, though, if the Rebels don’t take better care of the football.