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Ole Miss Football Position Grades Versus Boise State

core boiseThe Ole Miss Rebels started the 2014 season in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-a kickoff classic in the Georgia Dome versus giant killer Boise State with a big 35-13 win.

In the decade of the 2000’s Boise won 112 games, making them the winningest D-1 program in the nation during that stretch. The 2014 Boise team is not the same Boise team that was beating Georgia and Oklahoma however. Coach Chris Peterson is now at Washington. This was Bryan Harsin’s first game as a head coach, the Boise offensive line is replacing 3 starters and the Bronco’s only returned one defensive lineman.

How did the #18 ranked Rebels grade out in the first game of the 2014 season?

Quarterbacks                     C

Bo Wallace had a Jekyll-and-Hyde type game with 3 interceptions in the first half but came back with three touchdowns in the second half.

Hugh Freeze was visably shocked at the senior’s performance as he held up three fingers at Bo with a puzzled, questioning look at he exited the field after his third pick. These are not the type of decisions Wallace should be making at this point in his career, and certainly not the outcome head coach Hugh Freeze expects, “Two of the three interceptions just were a bit unbelievable to us because those receivers weren’t even in the progression”

The second half and more specifically the 4th quarter was a different story as Bo got in a rhythm and found Cody Core, Laquon Treadwell and Quincy Adeboyejo for three touchdowns to outpace the Broncos and put the game away.

Even with the poor first half, Wallace had good final stats: 25/36 (69%), 387 yds, 4 tds, 3 ints

core boise 1Wide Receivers                                 A

The team overall had a slow start as the team was forced into obvious passing plays early in the game due to a rash of false start penalties.

Once the guys settled in, the wide receivers had a chance to shine.  Seven players caught passes Thursday night for an average of 18 yards per catch, including 100 yard night for Cody Core and Laquon Tredwell.

Treadwell absolutely willed this team to a score.  In the third quarter, Ole Miss was only leading 7-6 and someone had to step up.  Wallace knows he can trust Treadwell and threw to him several times in one-on-one coverage burning the Bronco defender each time leading to a touchdown.  Defensive coordinators better put two on him and if they do it will open the field for the other receivers.

Returning from injuries last year, senior Vince Sanders caught 2 for 36 yards and sophomore Quincy Adeboyejo caught 2 for 29 yards.


dodson boiseRunning Backs                   C

Against a WAC conference foe, Ole Miss fans expected Ole Miss to run the ball at will. That did not happen.  Starters Itavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton combined for less than 2 yards per carry. The offensive line is not opening lanes at this point and no matter who is running the ball you have to block and give your guys a chance.

In the second half, bigger backs Jordan Wilkins (5 carries for 21 yds) and Mark Dodson (4 carrie for 27 yds, 1 touchdown) had a little more success as the offensive line had more success.

This grade is a little unfair as the guys have proven they can play in the SEC. The problem, this week was the lineman.


Offensive Line                   O- (for offensive) 

This bunch stunk it up in the first two quarters.

“It was awful hard to watch for 2 ½ quarters, then we got in a decent rhythm the last part of the game, found a way to score enough points to win,” Rebels coach Hugh Freeze.

The offensive line started off the game with back to back pre snap penalties and finished with seven false-start penalties in the first half.

Granted offensive line coach Matt Luke has a lot of new pieces up front. Replacing the starting center, right guard and part-time right tackle on last years’ team.

Left guard Aaron Morris is coming off a medical redshirt year too, so getting this group to mesh together will take more than August practice apparently.

The returning players do have some experience, transfer Fahn Cooper at RT started at Bowling Green, Justin Bell has 13 starts on the right side of the line. Starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil is rock solid and Morris is at left guard.  Getting Junior Center Ben Still up to speed is going to be key to controlling the line of scrimmage and playing as a cohesive unit.

The Rebels have three more weeks before Bama.


Tight End             B

Everybody was excited to see Juco phenom QB turned Tight End, Jeremy Liggins and how he could help the team, specifically in the red zone, to hopefully improve the run game.

I would say his contribution level is still unknown. Liggins was responsible for one false start penalty at the tight end position but he was able to get the team a first down on a 4 and short run as a quarterback.

Evan Engram caught four balls for 41 yards.


secondary boiseSecondary                           A

As rough as the offense looked in the first half the defense was a good as advertised. I have watched Ole Miss football for a long time and there have always been one or two hard hitters on the team but this secondary is going to reach legendary status real quick if they can repeat the type of licks they threw on this opening game. Led by safeties Cody Prewitt, Tony Conner, and cornerbacks Senquez Golson, and Mike Hilton, this night was a all-night highlight reel as time after time, Broncos caught passes before the first down marker and were dropped in their tracks.

The defense gave up 264 yards passing but per pass, they only gave 5.7 yards per attempt, which is good enough for 5th best in the nation based on 2013 stats.  They also ball hawked three interceptions (Prewitt, Golson, Connor).

Call these guys the hit squad. VIDEO FROM SBNATION


Linebackers                        B

The linebackers were certainly overshadowed by the secondary and the front four defensive lineman in this game but senior Keith Lewis had a good game with 7 solo tackles including one highlight worth pop.

Serderius Bryant was ejected early in the contest on a helmet to helmet targeting penalty, earning him the distinction of being the first player of 2014 to be tossed from a game on the newly revised penalty (future bar trivia question). While technically the call was correct it was a pretty soft hit and he just needs to keep his head up on hits and he will be fine.

Deterrian Shackelford finished with five total tackles and a sack True freshman Taylor Polk got some surprise playing time with Bryant out and got in on three hits.

Denzel Nkemdiche was serving his one game suspension for some off the field team rules violations and will be ready to play this week in Nashville.


knemdiche boiseDefensive Line                  B

The spotlight was brightest on starting defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. After an all-SEC freshman year and being called the best defensive tackle in the conference by the SEC coaches he actually only finished with 3 total tackles, but boy did he provide some hurries and pressure in the back field. Anyone that watched the game will know he controlled the right side of the field and made for a long night for Boise.

End CJ Johnson returned from an injury filled 2013 to register 4 tackles and an interception.  Channing Ward practiced as a tight end most of this off season but was back at DE this game and got 5 tackles.

My only critique of Robert would be he still tends to over pursue and will take himself out of the play. In subsequent weeks I expect the emotions to dial back and he will play within the defensive scheme.

That could mean lights out for some team in the near future. Possibly Vandy who showed their offensive line could not block Temple.

Look out Vandy!

nkemdiche vandy 2013











Special Teams                    B

There was not much excitement in kickoffs or punt returns but there weren’t many opportunities as the Rebel D kept Boise’s kick off specialist on the bench.

Kickoffs were handled by Nathan Noble who did not have any touchbacks on six attempts but did average 63.5 yards per kick.

Ole Miss did not attempt a field goal. There is still some question of who will get the call between Senior Andrew Fletcher or Freshman Gary Wunderlich.

Treadwell returned on kick off for three yards and freshman wide receiver Markell Pack returned a punt for 2 yards.

The star of the night was Freshman punter Will Gleeson who leads the SEC in yards per punt after week one with 4 punts for 189 yards or 47.25 yards per kick. He consistently put Boise in a hole.

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