It had been 105 weeks and four days since the Ole Miss football team had defeated an SEC opponent. Jeremiah Masoli led the Rebels to a 42-35 victory over Kentucky. That reign of terror came to an end on Saturday when Ole Miss defeated Auburn 41-20. The offense clicked, albeit amidst a vanilla gameplan, and a run-heavy attack proved to be too much for Gene Chizik’s ballclub.
That 2010 Ole Miss team proceeded to lose their last six conference games, including heartbreakers to rivals LSU and Mississippi State. Hugh Freeze’s 2012 squad appears to be poised to avenge such a collapse, especially if the offense continues to produce like they have been.
Quarterback: Four days after his sister Baylee’s neck surgery following her Monday car accident, Bo Wallace had a game to play. With the burden of a concerned brother on his shoulders, Wallace did something that no other player in school history has done: throw, run, and catch a touchdown. He was 3-3 on the opening possession, capped by a 25-yard reception on a pass-back from Randall Mackey. He added touchdown runs of one and two yards along with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Scott.
Wallace finished the game 17-22 for 226 yards, rushed for 39 yards, and had 25 yards receiving. The most telling number for Wallace? Zero. That is the number of turnovers accounted for by the Ole Miss quarterback. This was by far his best performance of the season and hopefully a sign of his maturation.
Running Backs: Scott continued his big season with 137 rushing yards and 70 receiving. His 55-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter had to have given satisfaction to any spiteful Oregon fans out there as he did the same thing to the Tigers that Michael Dyer did to the Ducks in the 2011 National Championship game. Mackey did not have a huge game with just two carries for six yards and one reception for 22 yards, but he did have the touchdown pass to Wallace to give the Rebels an early lead. Scott, Mackey, Jaylen Walton, and I’Tavious Mathers combined to rush for 163 yards on 26 carries, good for an impressive 6.3 YPC.
Tight Ends/Wide Receivers: If I were to tell you that the Rebels would score 41 points on Saturday, you would assume that there would be a big game out of Donte Moncrief. That was not the case as Moncrief was not a big factor all game. This was due in part to Auburn using safety help over the top to prevent big plays from the sophomore and partly due to a gameplan that did not call for many down-the-field passes. He had four catches for just 27 yards, two more than Wallace. It was the second time this season that he has not caught a touchdown (Alabama being the other), but luckily the Rebels do not play another team from the Yellowhammer state this season.
Ja-Mes Logan made a huge 40-yard catch in triple coverage, Ferbia Allen had a 22-yarder, but other than that, the Rebels did not have many big plays by the tight ends receivers. There were a lot of slow-developing screens that were stopped abruptly, it was a slow day for this unit with little opportunities given.
Offensive Line: Except for a pair of sacks, Wallace seemed to have a stable pocket for much of the day. The run blocking appeared to be a little suspect though. Eight different runs were stopped in the backfield, putting a damper on an otherwise solid day by Matt Luke’s bunch. It has been an arduous seven weeks, so a bye week will definitely help restore the lower halves of this unit before Arkansas in two weeks.
Getting this kind of production out of your offense is going to win you a lot of games. The problem is that in the SEC, you do not play teams like Auburn each week. Ole Miss faces another lackluster defense next in Arkansas, before a November date with Georgia in Athens.