FOOTBALL: Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from Ole Miss’ 34-10 win over Samford.

It was indeed a 34-10 win, a final score you haven’t found on a blog post until now. Deadline happens, and when it does I have to focus on the print edition.

About last night …

First, remember that every observation comes with an asterisk, and that is that the Rebels were playing an FCS team, the division formerly known as I-AA. That doesn’t mean that nothing worthwhile can come from the win. It does mean to temper any excitement.

The Rebels set out to run the ball, and they were able to do that from the base formation. There seemed to be a lot of focus on getting Cordera Eason involved, and Eason had a nice game. The fumble was a concern, because it’s not an isolated incident. Eason fumbled at Wake Forest also. Both fumbles were recovered by Ole Miss. This has been a problem for Eason in the past, and he’s improved. Hopefully he can continue. This time the fumble was recovered by fullback Jason Cook, and Eason left the game for some “coaching up.” All in all, Eason had a nice game with vision and cutting, and he didn’t typically go down on first contact.

I thought it was telling afterward when Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said he’s depending on Eason even with the available talent at running back. Brandon Bolden is going to be there. He was solid again yesterday with 42 yards on eight carries, averaging 5.2 per rush, just like Eason, who had 68 yards on 13 carries. Heralded freshman Enrique Davis remains the third option, a fact that could be related to pass protection and other responsibilities at running back.

In the passing game, Jevan Snead’s play was a reminder that he’s a talented player who’s been away from the game a while. Perhaps his focus and concentration wasn’t as sharp against Samford as it obviously was at Wake Forest. He was very disappointed in himself after the game. He took it hard. I don’t see Snead’s game as any kind of danger sign. He showed at Wake Forest what kind of player he can be, and even against Samford, where he missed some receivers and had some bad throws picked off, he had a number of good throws at other times. The 91-yard drive right before halftime was impressive. I’ve never seen Ole Miss cover that much ground that quickly.

Offensive coordinator Kent Austin seemed to know right away what Snead was doing wrong technically. That means it should not take too long to correct. I expect Snead to bounce back against Vanderbilt.

Defensively, the line was dominant against a lower-division foe, as it should be. Lots of tackles for loss, and lots of plays by the guys you expect to make them … six tackles, two for loss by Peria Jerry, and while Ted Laurent had only two tackles, both were for loss.

Pass coverage is still spotty. Samford receivers got open, and the Bulldogs completed some passes. They weren’t about to complete a long ball, and when the field shortened, the passing game became more difficult. Keep an eye on backup cornerback Jeremy McGee. He had two pass break-ups, the only two recorded for the Rebels.

The safeties are still active. Kendrick Lewis had another nice game with five tackles, but he also overran a sack for the second straight week when he was untouched on a blitz. This time it wasn’t as costly, but the Rebels will be a much better defense when Lewis begins to slow down, break down in the backfield and make the play.

I said before the game that Ole Miss just needed to push through this one, be sharp and get the win. The Rebels weren’t that sharp early but got better as the game went along and pushed the margin out enough for reserves to get some key time, as they should in this game.

— PA

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14 Responses to “FOOTBALL: Day After Observations”

  1. Jimmy Barbee Says:

    Maybe Miss State should let the baseball team play offense for them. Score more points.

  2. Bo Says:

    I was at the game last night, and it was easily the most dead atmosphere that I’ve ever experienced at Ole Miss. The players were flat, the coaches looked flat, and the crowd was flat. The only people with pulses were on the Samford sideline…

    I won’t be there next week, but I would imagine it will be a totally different atmosphere against Vandy. It’s a game we need really badly if we want to have a decent season.

  3. bc Says:

    Bo,
    You must not have been at the Northwestern State game last year.Last night was like Mardi Gras compared to that.

  4. farley662 Says:

    I agree JB. We need an entirely new offense and coaches. Croom is dumber than O.

  5. Jimmy Barbee Says:

    Well Farley, after watching the game last evening and seeing that 4-14?? call erased the 4-1 that O made against your team. I have been have been a supporter of Coach Croom, but last nights game has remove that support for him and his coaching staff. I feel for that very good defensive team.

  6. Jimmy Barbee Says:

    One other thought, Auburn didn’t look too impressive offensively.

    Samford game history, good in-game on the job experience for the Rebels.

    Now comes Vandy, a thorn in Ole Miss side from the past. They are probably a more tougher opponent that Wake Forest. So, this is where we are really going to see if this Rebel football team has the “right stuff”.

  7. Bacchus815 Says:

    Bo,
    You need to get to more games. NW St? La Tech? And that’s just in 2007.

  8. m4rebs Says:

    I don’t think Vanderbilt is quite up to Wake Forest’s caliber, but that is just an opinion. I think Wake is much more experienced on both side of the football. I think we will see a similar offense style as what we saw in Winston-Salem, and I think that gives us a slght advantage. We slowed down the Wake offense enough to give us a little bit of confidence that we SHOULD have the ability to slow down Vandy. They probably have a little better ground game than does Wake, but they are close to even. Defensively, I just don’t know what to think of them, they slowed down Carolina, but other than NC State, Carolina hasn’t put up a lot of points. If we can’t get up for this Saturday night, we won’t the rest of the year. This is an absolute HUGE game in more ways than just for our confidence, and you couldn’t say that about this game in many years over the past, what, century??? Big game, too bad no one other thanthe attendees will see it. Just too many other “Big Ones” to get the exposure this game should warrant.

  9. bhamrebel Says:

    M4 is right all the way on this one, especially the opinion about Wake and Vandy–there is a proper limit to conference pride. Focus and intensity are what we need to see, and the importance of this game could not be overstated–great post!

    In other opinions, the Rebels made a really poor showing against Samford. The thing that stuck out the most to me was that we scored at will almost (when we scored)–why didn’t we have the will to score more points?

  10. djrebel Says:

    Matt and Bham, not sure what to make of Vandy yet. I think they’re pretty good, but I don’t know how good their offensive line is yet. Don’t know how much they’ve been challenged. They didn’t win the battles early against South Carolina, but things changed after the special teams turnover. Vandy started working the edges pretty good, then had some success running at the Gamecocks later.

    That was kind of how Wake Forest did against Ole Miss. Wake worked the edges with the passing game, then had some straight-ahead success.

    Saturday’s game is huge for both teams, mainly because they’re both pretty good programs in the lower tier of their divisions and trying to get better. Both of them see this as a game that can and should win.

    — PA

  11. omdstep Says:

    Saturday’s game did have a bad atmosphere.

    Maybe everybody was just relaxed because it’s Samford, but it’s still an Ole Miss game. Consistency is the key.

    Players feed off the crowd, trust me.

  12. djrebel Says:

    I wouldn’t get too worked up about the atmosphere or the level of play in this game. This is the kind of game that players and coaches just have to push through to get to the next BCS opponent. The Rebels were sleep-walking at times, but when they were focused — like the 91-yard drive — they showed they were well above Samford’s level. I look for Snead to bounce back next week. Among the yet unanswered questions are if the OL is improved enough to be physical against the SEC and can the pass coverage stand up?

    — PA

  13. va reb Says:

    PA, thanks for the great writeup. I agree with all..our season will hinge on the Vandy game. Don’t believe they’re as good as Wake, but they always play us hard.

  14. djrebel Says:

    Thanks Larry. I think Vandy might be as good as Wake on offense, but it will be a different kind of good with a running quarterback.

    — PA

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