FOOTBALL: Day after observations

Just got back home in Tupelo. We had a 6:55 flight out Greensboro. It was 5 a.m. when the wake-up call came, so it was 4 a.m. in the time zone to which I’m most accustomed.

Here are a few notes and thoughts from Ole Miss’ 30-28 loss at No. 20 Wake Forest.

What does it mean? This had a different feel than Ed Orgeron’s moral victories. There’s a different expectation for this group. It has looked better prepared in two games, and there’s a belief that it can be a good football team, so snatching defeat from the jaws of victory because you didn’t make a couple of key plays in the last seconds is more painful than in the last three years where the team was just hoping for something good to happen.

Now it looks like a team capable of making good things happen. In fairness it needs to be pointed out that it’s players Ed recruited — aside from running back Brandon Bolden — that have looked good in two games.

Against Wake the offense again looked well-coached and prepared. There were two interceptions thrown, one when Jevan Snead didn’t see a safety coming over, another from the Wild Rebel formation when Dexter McCluster basically made a poor decision. Still no fumbles. There were a couple of penalties, but all in all, this unit was playing against a better defense and played well. The offense showed its Memphis performance was no fluke.

The drive Snead led for the go-ahead touchdown was clutch, and it wasn’t only Snead getting things done.

It was not good that Ole Miss managed just 107 rushing yards. Wake put a pretty stout defense on the field, but it wasn’t any stronger than many of the defenses the Rebels will see in the Western Division.

Cordera Eason and Enrique Davis combined for just 19 yards on 13 carries. Brandon Bolden in two games has clearly established himself as the Rebels’ most productive back. With his versatility in the Wild Rebel, Bolden is an asset, and hopefully his shoulder isn’t hurt any more than it appeared to be after the game.

The defense showed improvement most of the game, though it failed to make two key plays on Wake’s final drive. The Rebels were in zone coverage when someone was out of position. There’s no other explanation Wake receiver DJ Boldin being as open as he was on a key 22-yard gain to put the Deacons into Ole Miss territory. Before that play, Riley Skinner was just nibbling at the sidelines. Time was running out, and everyone knew Skinner had to go downfield.

On the second critical missed play, the culprit was obvious. Free safety Kendrick Lewis blitzed and came virtually untouched but overran the play and never laid a hand on Skinner. It was an unfortunate play for Lewis, who had another solid day and led the Rebels with nine tackles. Lewis lost the job to Johnny Brown last year because he couldn’t tackle. He is vastly improved there. If Lewis makes that play, or at least disrupts Skinner, the odds of Ole Miss winning increase dramatically.

Those were two highly visible plays that probably would have changed the outcome.

Now, in the game’s other 59 minutes there was a lot of improvement against the run by the Ole Miss defense. Linemen, tackles particularly, were shuffled in and out. There was pressure against Skinner — four sacks — and there were tackles behind the line, eight compared to only three against Memphis. Lawon Scott had a nice game with three tackles and a sack. Ends Kentrell Lockett and Emmanuel Stephens showed up, and perhaps most importantly, senior tackle Peria Jerry was used extensively and looked no worse for the wear.

The linebackers were active and chasing the ball. PatrickTrahan was on the field a lot, and his role may be increasing.

Pass coverage was still iffy, and that’s not likely to improve a great deal this season. Run defense, though, did improve and will get better still as Jerry gets healthier and Greg Hardy returns.

It was a very painful defeat. You could see tears and frustration from players exiting the field.

What the game showed, though, is that this team may be a little ahead of schedule and is quite capable of winning against most of the SEC teams on its schedule.

— PA

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6 Responses to “FOOTBALL: Day after observations”

  1. rebnutt Says:

    I agree pa. I was there and sincerely thought we had the slightly better team, we lost on mistakes, like the fumbled punt collision early in the game. Special teams still need work. What was our first TD drive, 95-yards? Snead looks really poised in there. To think we have him for a while makes you feel better.

  2. rebnutt Says:

    PA, did they use Parnell any on the D for Wake’s field goals? I looked for him but didn’t see him in there on those. If he’s not in there, they ought to consider it, much like the Panthers use J. Peppers–the height may get you the occasional block. Someone pass this on to Nix or the special teams guy, please.

  3. m4rebs Says:

    Parnell was in there. He wasn’t even close to getting a finger on the kicks. Swank is an all-american. His tracetory on the balls are so far above the line, it’s amazing.

  4. djrebel Says:

    I was looking for Parnell on field goal defense, but missed him before they started getting down in stances, etc. I thought I saw Gerald Harris as the leaper in the middle.

    — PA

  5. paul kelly Says:

    i think we are really close to being a pretty good team. just a little more to be done on defense, especially in the pass coverages. thanks to coach O for all the talent ant to coach nutt for knowing what to do with it. GO REBELS

  6. rebelfan38652 Says:

    The players weren’t the only ones shedding tears. I was wanting that one bad. I believe people will start taking notice now. I really want us to have a good team.

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