Day After Observations

Thoughts and observations from the Rebels’ 30-27 loss to Texas A&M. …

As I mentioned before, I’ve covered a lot of SEC losses lately, 16 straight to be exactly, but few were as bizarre to the finish or as emotionally draining for Ole Miss than last night.

The LSU game in Baton Rouge two years ago was close, but many of the losses the last two years were not even competitive.

Last night there was such great anticipation for what most folks thought was about to happen. A single play – just one more play made by the Rebels – and the streak would have ended. That play could have been Senquez Golson batting down a ball caught over the top of his head, a block made for Jeff Scott, a ball that didn’t slip out of Bo Wallace’s hand or more.

But the Rebels sit this morning still one play away from an SEC win.

It wasn’t only about big plays, it was about a big call too. There was the possibility of the safety, the “no-call” that set in motion the chain of events that led to defeat, and there was the fourth-and-inches call by Hugh Freeze. Freeze said afterward that people might second-guess his decision to go for the first down. That’s not what people are second guessing. For all the good the Ole Miss offense has achieved this season, there comes a time for getting under center, pushing back the opponent for one inch. For all that can be gained by finesse and deception, football is still a physical game.

In the big picture, I didn’t have the Rebels winning this game. More important for Ole Miss, I thought, was making sure it defeats a struggling Auburn team this Saturday in Oxford. A split in the two home games would put the Rebels in position for a winning season.

In that regard, the path to bowl-eligibililty is still on the table.

But the Rebels face the dangerous question this morning of how they will respond this week. Freeze has talked “wilderness” since his hiring, and as Matt wrote below, Freeze and the Rebels took a step back toward the woods last night. How does the loss, different than so many of the previous 15, affect confidence that was growing but no doubt fragile after a 3-2 start.

On the field, the effort was there again, no doubt. The focus and game plan were in place. Ball-protection was improved, but Wallace’s picks show that just one turnover is too many. Take away the pick six, and the Rebels win, no doubt. Take away the second interception, and they win maybe.

Wallace said he felt like he played his best game last night were it not for the turnovers. I would agree. He was accurate and had zip on the ball. He showed why he’s the best choice for quarterback when he’s on top of his game.

But he also showed it only takes a play or two of not being on top of your game to be the difference in winning and losing.

After a week of competition between Wallace and Barry Brunetti, Freeze and Dan Werner were non-committal on the status of the quarterback situation moving forward. The reality, though, is that Ole Miss had a chance to win, because Wallace involves the receivers.

Donte Moncrief was a factor last night, Vince Sanders continued his trend of growth. Ja-Mes Logan figured in too.

On the ground, the Rebels continued to show they can run the ball against good defenses. Jeff Scott averaged 5.1 yards a carry with 108 yards on 21 attempts. Wallace had the 14-yard touchdown run.

But there comes a time when you have to mash, and while Freeze might have liked that zone read play at the end because he’d had some success with it, I suspect part of making that call was because he doesn’t have a line built to move people off the ball.

So, another almost game for Ole Miss, another solid effort, but this one doesn’t have the positive vibe that the Alabama game had.

Hopefully for the Rebels there will be no negative lingering effects.

 

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • Mantachie

    heart breaker, as you said so many one plays. I agree that they should go for it on 4th. Sadly to many times with these offenses going under center is not the plan and it back fired last night. just like the players “coach” is young in coaching in the sec but like the players he will get better and we will win more this year and next year be a dangerous team

  • REBELCUZ

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHY WOULD YOU RUN A SHOTGUN OFFENSE WITH ONE INCH TO GO AND SEND A 170 POUND RUNNING BACK UP THE MIDDLE.WHY NOT RUN QB SNEACK.

    • Littlereb

      Ain’t that the question of the century.i just feel that everyone has got bowl game on their mind to much. We need to just play ball and get better, which we have done every game this year. I had us going 3 and 9. No sec wins and this is the same team we started the year with, they’ve just gotten a lot better. Everyone need to be patient and the w’s will come.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmyw.barbee Jimmy W Barbee

    MY day of observation is, sorry for the Rebel lose but greatly happy at the beating my Gators put on LSU, it could not have been to a more despised team that LSU. My dislike for LSU was a couple of years back where some of the football team beat a Marine so badly at a honky tonk. I From what I have heard is that marine went to help one that was being badly beaten by two of the LSU football player and then they turned on him with a savage attack. MY hopes are is that the Gators are back, but we will know more as the season progresses. It appears that the Rebels are on their way back as well.
    .

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