FOOTBALL: Day After Observations

A few notes and observations from Ole Miss 31-30 win over No. 4 Florida Saturday.

Actually, these are late night observations. It’s 10:43 eastern, and I’ve just gotten settled back in the room.

What a game by the Ole Miss defensive line. It was believed in August the DL would be the strength of this football team. Finally, the Rebels are healthy, and it’s showing. Peria Jerry was credited for the stop of Tim Tebow on fourth-and-1 that allowed Jevan Snead to kneel down and run out the clock.

I think everybody had a piece of that stop, though. Florida got no push on the line at all. As the years go by everyone who played defense at Ole Miss will find a way to say they were in on that stop.

Great game for Ted Laurent, the sophomore tackle, with six tackles, a sack, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

Obviously protecting the ball was a focal point for Ole Miss after the Vanderbilt debacle, and the only turnover the Rebels had was an interception thrown by Snead as he was hit in the pocket. You knew Florida was due for a couple of turnovers, and Ole Miss forced three. Two of them on Florida’s first two drives of the third quarter led to 10 Ole Miss points. I believe Tebow’s fumble was a result of the game-long play of the Rebels’ DL. The ball wasn’t necessarily knocked from him on that play. He was distracted and out of his rhythm.

Nice game by linebacker Tony Fein with 10 tackles, including a solo number on Brandon James after a 9-yard gain to force the Gators into the fourth-and-1 situation. Fein started the game and got a lot more playing time than Jonathan Cornell it seemed.

Strong play from the DL can gloss over some other problems. Pass coverage is still spotty. Tebow missed some shots downfield where receivers were open. That continues to be an area to watch.

Safeties Jamarca Sanford and Kendrick Lewis are always around the ball in this scheme, and they combined for 20 tackles today, 11 of them by Sanford. Lewis also had a fumble recovery.

On offense the Rebels were clean, although not efficient. Keep in mind this was the best defense Ole Miss has faced this season and the one with the most speed.

The Rebels were not able to sustain long drives, but they were able to hit big plays at key times. Obviously the 89-yard touchdown pass from Snead to Shay Hodge comes to mind, but there were others. Dexter McCluster’s 40-yard touchdown run from the Wild Rebel gave the Rebels a 24-17 lead. Snead passed 36 yards to Hodge to set up his own 1-yard TD run for the Rebels’ first points.

Nice play call on the screen pass to Cordera Eason for an 18-yard touchdown.

The big and timely plays — combined with the reduction in turnovers — allowed the Rebels to overcome season lows in total yards (325) and first downs (10).

Ole Miss got some things done from the Wild Rebels, but even that was tough. McCluster averaged 5.5 yards a carry, but take away his 40-yard run, and he had 20 yards on 10 carries. Brandon Bolden had a similar day. Subtract a 28-yard gain, and he had 23 yards on 12 carries. On a day when the yards were tough, Houston Nutt and Kent Austin kept hammering, and got the big plays from the Wild Rebel.

Closing thoughts ….

The win was huge for a number of reasons, the most important being it was affirmation to the players that they can do this. They can do more than come close.

If you can play clean and win at Florida, then you can play win at clean at LSU. You can play clean and beat Auburn, which is struggling on offense, at home.

All of this, the Rebels can do. The question now is can they find what is perhaps the most difficult thing in sports … consistency.

Players and coaches talk about this game as a springboard, and it can be that if they continue to execute and protect the ball on offense, and play the type of inspired defense they played today.

— PA

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16 Responses to “FOOTBALL: Day After Observations”

  1. oxfordrebel Says:

    Great analysis PA, I bet you could hear hotty toddy ringing loud and clear after the game. Man, you lucky dog you 🙂

  2. oxfordrebel Says:

    And I agree completely with your thoughts on the secondary play, if you can call it that b/c there wasn’t much “play” there. We got lucky that Tebow missed some relatively easy downfield passes where we got burnt, and when they went into their 2 minute offense running 5 wide, he picked us apart for 10-15 yards per pass. BUT, he only started doing that when we tried to play zone instead of bring pressure like we had been all day. I was so ready to strangle the DC, I just didn’t understand why we tried to get conservative. It doesn’t matter now though, we got the W, let’s get our boys home and gett’em ready for them Gamecocks!

    Hotty Toddy!

  3. bhamrebel Says:

    “Zone” and “bringing pressure” are not mutually exclusive. Also, a solid chunk of the pressure we put on Tebow all day came from the front four. And, I think that had we played man against a five receiver spread somebody would have been open downfield by a country mile, or Tebow would have had 30 yards of open pasture to run in. The reason we played conservatively at the end is because we’re not good enough in the secondary to take many risks. Pressuring Skinner at Wake Forest and leaving Green on an island is what cost us the game. My “helmet stickers” all go to Tyrone Nix and the bend but not break defense the Rebels played today (even though it did break a few times). Many mistakes were corrected, many sins covered over, and the bowl picture is a little brighter for the Rebels.

    GO REBS!!

  4. oxfordrebel Says:

    That conservative play got us beat at Wake. We played our best D that game when they hit the 50 yard line on their last drive. We started bringing heat from our LB’s and it shook Skinner up. I’m just saying, in the position that UM is in, we have to play with more pressure and hope that we can disrupt the QB enough to make some bad throws b/c our secondary play is just atrocious. The zone package has gotten us burnt once at Wake, and almost burnt us yesterday.

  5. Bo Says:

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all the heartbreaking losses, it’s that game stats mean nothing. It’s cliche, but the only stat that matters is W or L. We statistically dominated Vandy last week and got an L. We, for the most part, got dominated by Florida and got a W.

    While I want to have a shut-down defense and an unstoppable offense, I’ll take W’s over anything.

    I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if we give up 400 yards or 900 yards, all that matters is who has more points on the board when the clock reads 0:00.

  6. farley662 Says:

    You guys got vote in both polls today.

  7. no_handle Says:

    Just finished watching the CSS replay. It was just as sweet seeing it the second time. GO REBELS!

  8. Jaxrebsteve Says:

    Had a great time at the swamp yesterday. Drove down with my son, brother and friend from Jacksonville, FL. They all root for the Gators and were giving it to me all the way there.

    Guess who was quiet and who was obnoxious on the way home? Haven’t had that much fun at a Rebel game in a long time. Yes, we made mistakes, but that was a game we used to lose, so stop being so negative.

    If you watched closely, we had almost as many athletes as they did. Our defensive line was dominant. A few more good recruits on the offensive line and secondary and we will be very good the next few years.

    Hotty Toddy!

    Steve, Class of 1988

  9. djrebel Says:

    Hey guys, just got back in town this afternoon. Thanks for posting. OR, last week you wanted me to move to Athens and cover. Look what I would have missed. (Ha.)

    — PA

  10. rebnutt Says:

    PA
    Until I read your notes, I was going to ask which DL got under Fla’s right side on the Tebow 4th & 1 play. I know you say P. Jerry got credit–he deserved it if he was in that area, but the whole 2-3 blocker area their right OL side got pushed back & there had to be at least another DL for us in that mix. Our LBs were in there as well but not under their OL–ESPN played it over & over and you can tell a couple of DL’s got much lower than them on on that play. Who was lined up inside & outside Jerry then?

    Also, how good is/was Fla’s DL? Because I thought our OL was spotty in protection for Snead (especially in the 2nd Q). If they’re the best we’ll face this year, then okay, we’ll probably be okay, but with Bama & Auburn looming, I’d say that area is a worry. Still, it must sound crazy if we complain or worry about anything–our situation has improved so much!

    Shame on me for doubting the Rebs in my predictions late last week.

  11. flareb Says:

    Gentlemen,
    I was at the swamp yesterday, not to far from PA, got a buddy that is a bull gator and he always invites me to the OM game. Every once in awhile you get led to water and are able to drink. What I had been hearing was true in that Gator o-line was questionable and I thought this would play well for our d-line. They were in Tebow’s face all day. That was the difference. Lot of talk about Superman missing receivers but can’t perform when you are feeling heat all day. I was listening to Gator radio in the parking lot and there were a couple of comments about Nutt willing this team to a win and Orgeron not leaving the cupboard bare. Steve in above reference is correct, OM had the athletes to compete with Gators with the exception of Percy Harvin who is in a league by himself. Gator fans calling for Dan Mullen’s head who is the offensive coordinator. Play calling to predictable.
    Gator fans were stunned. Radio man hoped Mississippi would succeed from the union and glad they would not see a football team from this state for at least three years. There were three girls from OM sitting about three seats away from me in the champions club and we were all treated with respect. Quite a few Reb fans at the game and man did they stay after game and celebrate in the stadium. It was a great day to be a rebel and boy did we ever need the sun to shine on Reb nation. Thanks to the rebel football team for there outstanding effort and for giving the great people associated with this university a reason to smile. Keep the focus and let’s put it to the Gamecocks.

  12. flareb Says:

    Rebnutt,
    I can answer that………No. Gator defense is better than average but not what Gator nation is used to. Auburn, Bama and LSU who remain on schedule are much better. OM d-line as good as anybody in conference but secondary is suspect. If d-line is not getting any pressure our db’s will get torched. An area that needs an upgrade. Gator nation got a reality check yesterday and that was that they were not the number four team in the country. They were manhandled up front and they are well aware that LSU is looming.
    PA, my apologies for butting in but couldn’t resist.

  13. 03Rebel Says:

    LSU was without 2 starting DL’s last night, and it showed. Doubt they are still out when we play them. Of course Bama looks awesome, but we should have a good shot at Auburn if we can just score 14 points. Even if we lose to these 3, we still finish 7-5 if we take care of business next week.

  14. oxfordrebel Says:

    PA, I don’t want you to go anywhere, was just venting at the time. THEN I didn’t understand why anyone would wanna waste their time covering the infinetely snake-bitten team that is Ole Miss. Now though, everything seems just right. That is, until we lose the next one we’re supposed to win, lol

  15. bhamrebel Says:

    PA
    Do you have any idea what percentage of the game we were in man coverage?

    Also, when we blitzed Tebow, was it usually out of zone or man coverage?

  16. djrebel Says:

    Bham, don’t know the percentages on man-zone. Have to play both to win.

    Rebnutt, Peria got “credit” for the tackle, but that only means it was assigned to him by the official spotter in the press box. The whole left side of the defense gave no ground. The replay on TV showed Marcus Temple, the freshman, coming off the left end and making what appeared to be initial contact. That slowed Tebow for the half-second that everyone else needed to converge. That’s what it looked like on the replay anyway.

    Flareb, I thought Gator defense was pretty good lots of speed. Rebels wouldn’t have won had they not been able to hit the big plays, because they didn’t sustain anything. Like lots of things in college football, sometimes the truth isn’t known till mid-October or so.

    — PA

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