FOOTBALL: Day After Observations

A few notes and thoughts from Ole Miss’ 59-0 win over the University formerly known as Northeast Louisiana:

Congratulations to the seniors who have waited for this day of bowl-eligibility for so long. This is a burden lifted from their shoulders, a goal for which they’ve worked extremely hard.

Senior captain and fullback Jason Cook gave the day’s best visual aid when jogging off the field afterward as he stopped and let fly an air bowling ball at make-believe pins.

The great unknown of this game at the beginning was Ole Miss’ level of focus, regardless of the speeches of mouse traps provided by Houston Nutt during the week. You just never know till you get there.

The team was obviously ready to play. The Rebels were physical and dominant from the game’s opening kick and never slowed up.

I was asked if I thought the Rebels were playing well or if ULM was simply overmatched. It was a bit of both, I suspect. Typically, a Sun Belt team will get overwhelmed at some point, as Troy obviously did in Baton Rouge last night.

But this is also a ULM program with a history of close and competitive games — some of them wins — against SEC competition. The Warhawks, though only 3-7 going into the game, had been competitive in most games including a 28-27 loss at Arkansas where they led 27-6. They even got some things done on offense in a 34-0 loss at Auburn in Week 1.

Now with a 59-0 loss yesterday, Ole Miss has outscored ULM 149-17 in three series games.

From this point forward take the stats with a grain of salt. They’re good to see, but ULM gives up a ton of rushing yards as a rule. Even so, 350 on the ground is pretty impressive.

It was good to see consistency from Cordera Eason, who rushed for 106 on 14, his second straight 100-plus game.

It’s clearly an Eason-Dexter McCulster tandem right now. Brandon Bolden is the third back.

Freshman Enrique Davis got a lot of time yesterday but looked fairly average on 12 carries.

A lot of offensive linemen that Ole Miss will count on next year — Bradley Sowell (at tackle instead of tight end), Brandon Green, Alex Washington and others — got some much-needed playing time.

Quarterback Jevan Snead was 5-for-10, hit some good throws but missed some others. His accuracy was OK but still needs work.

Offensive coordinator Kent Austin didn’t discuss accuracy much afterward, saying a quarterback’s job is to move the team and score and that no QB is going to make all the throws.

Snead made some nice throws in his five completions and did a good job in the run game. It’s the first time an Ole Miss player has had five touchdowns (3 passing, 2 running) since Eli in 2001.

Defensively, Greg Hardy was back, playing with apparaent good health and without attitude. He had 3 tackles, one of them a sack, and an interception.

“One thing Greg does really well is rush the passer, and that was evident early,” defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said.

Hardy could be a wild card in the last two games.

Dustin Mouzon started ahead of Cassius Vaughn at cornerback, but it was hard to grade anybody against the non-existent ULM passing attack, though Vaughn did have a fourth-quarter interception.

That’s a battle to watch this week heading into Baton Rouge.

It was much easier to grade the Rebels’ defensive line, which dominated ULM as you would expect. This bunch has carried the defense and needs to be at the top of its game at LSU.

Bowl-eligibility has been a long time coming. These players and coaches know it should have come earlier this season, but that’s water under the bridge now.

They’ve solidified postseason and with two games left have the chance to climb in the bowl food chain.

— PA

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One Response to “FOOTBALL: Day After Observations”

  1. doubletripper Says:

    i think it’s high time the coaches stopped making excuses for snead. he has nearly a full season under his belt now and is still struggling with his accuracy. if he continues to struggle, maybe they need to let him sit a little bit and see if that would get his attention.

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