Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 30-27 SEC win at Arkansas. …

Hugh Freeze doesn’t mind going right back to a certain play two times in a row if a team hasn’t stopped it. Actually, against Arkansas it was four times in a row.

Freeze likes to throw that little quick pass to the sideline to Donte Moncrief with hopes that Moncrief can make a guy miss and get a big play. Freeze called for Bo Wallace to throw to Moncrief three-straight times like that on a fourth-quarter drive. Before the first such pass, Wallace threw to Jeff Scott on the same play for a 6-yard gain.

The drive ended with Bryson Rose’s 53-yard field goal and a 27-20 Ole Miss lead.

There was a lot of talk after the game about winning games and being so close to bowl-eligibility. Freeze continued his policy of not speaking about a possible bowl game.

As I’ve mentioned before, that the Rebels can even have this discussion at this point in the year is amazing progress. Expectations were very low for this team in August, but expectations have a way of changing during the season, and that’s what’s taking place now.

The Rebels let one get away against Texas A&M or they would be bowl-eligible right now. They got one back against Arkansas. Not that Arkansas was a much more dominant team and should have won easily. But the Razorbacks were playing with confidence, playing at home. They had an experienced senior quarterback and a running back who rushed for 161 yards. They had plenty of chances to win the game, but the Rebels held tough.

Having seen the effort from Ole Miss the last two weeks, there will be disappointment if these team doesn’t pick up one more win. …

Something else from Little Rock, the Rebels won when they really weren’t on top of their game offensively. They won when Bo Wallace had two turnovers.

They did that because they showed a mental toughness to make big plays at big times in all three phases when things weren’t going their way all the time. They lost momentum, and they got it back. There’s a confidence brewing in this team that wasn’t there last year.

No way does last year’s team respond to Arkansas’ game-tying field goal by driving into point blank range for the game-winning field goal. …

Keep an eye on the cornerbacks this week. If it was only flu-like symptoms for Senquez Golson, he may be back, but after Wesley Pendleton was hurt, the Rebels were digging deep for their third corner, Cliff Coleman, to play opposite Charles Sawyer. …

Speaking of Sawyer, what a great game. He’ll be an SEC POW candidate this week after showing up in multiple big-play categories. Sawyer finished with seven tackles, a sack, two pass break-ups, a blocked punt and then 15 yards on the return to help set up a touchdown.

He looks much more comfortable and seems much more confident at cornerback. …

It was disappointing to see Bo Wallace plagued with turnovers again. He needs to get past that and make the turnover-free game a little more of the norm than an isolated occurrence.

Wallace has shown confidence and swagger since stepping on campus, and it’s that mentality that helped him shake off the turnovers to lead the game-winning drive, but he needs to distance himself from the turnovers.

The Ole Miss defense rose up and did not allow Arkansas points after either of the turnovers. It doesn’t often happen that way. Good teams make you pay.

All in all a great day for Ole Miss, a great win on the road in the SEC. The Rebels got the monkey off their backs against Auburn, breaking the 16-game SEC losing streak with a 41-20 win.

But that win came against the SEC’s most-struggling team under the friendliest of circumstances. Almost everyone in the stadium wanted the Rebels to win two weeks ago in Oxford.

That wasn’t the case Saturday in Little Rock, and Ole Miss overcame spotty execution on offense to win anyway.

Here’s some Dave Wommack video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufLyuj5sIgY&w=560&h=315]

Here’s kicker Bryson Rose talking about his day:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFywzT37BSw&w=560&h=315]

And here’s a shot of Rose’s game-winning 31-yarder:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hVICF3kghA&w=560&h=315]

More from Hugh Freeze here:

“I won’t talk about bowl-eligibility, but I will … the people that pick all that before the season. They can’t judge the heart or the soul of a kid or a team, the chemistry. It’s not their fault. They’re doing it … and hey, I would have picked it there too.

How many NFL guys are on Arkansas’ team that are going to get drafted. I get that. I understand it. But attitude for us is not what other people say about us, it’s what we choose to believe about us.

Football’s a strange game. If you don’t have chemistry, sometimes the talent doesn’t win. If you have a team that’s very talented and has good chemistry and good discipline, it’s tough to beat that team. I think we have good chemistry right now.

Freeze: “I ripped them in our Sunday meeting, and it was the first time they’d seen that side of me. It was in a good way, but it was to say, ‘Hey, it’s time for you to expect more of yourself after watching that film. If you can’t tackle the guy after a 5-yard gain because of physics, that’s one thing. But if you choose to fit the wrong gap, that’s a whole nother thing. If you want to have success in this program and be on the field, you’ve got to do your job, expect to do your job and expect to do it well.’”

I can’t say if the buy-in increased after the Texas game or not.”

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 Kory Keys and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • Mantachie

    Nutt had talent but could not do much as the talent left. Can you imagine what freeze could do with talent. This year is probably where we had hoped to be by Next and really being there in two years. Freeze has the team and fans at a palce where we believe. That would be a good slogan ” we Believe” we have reasons to really believe.

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