Ole Miss Football: Position Grades Versus Alabama


Ole Miss and Head Coach Hugh Freeze have accomplished something that no other Ole Miss team has done in the 100 plus years of the program and that is beat a #1 ranked team.

As you might expect, the grades should be pretty high this week but as good as the outcome, there is still room for improvement; and that should really have your head spinning!

QUARTERBACK                    A

What a rebound for quarterback Bo Wallace, after accounting for three turnovers against Memphis last week, Wallace dialed in and was sharp as a razor’s edge.  He wasn’t perfect mind you, completing only 58% of his passes for 251 yards.  But lost inside those stats is the fact that he was patient, threw the ball away when he had to instead of forcing a pass into coverage.  He let his defense control the game and give him good field position and it made his job so much easier.  Wallace finished with 3 touchdowns, two in the fourth quarter and no turnovers.

WIDE RECEIVERS                   A

Two touchdowns for the wideouts, one for Laquon Treadwell to break the ice early in the third quarter and one for senior Vince Sanders to tie the game.  Having players like Treadwell elevates Ole Miss as a program and even though he was well covered with a cornerback in his pocket and a safety over the top, he fought through the defenders and forced himself and his team into the endzone.

After not scoring on this team in 2013, it had to be a big relief and gave the entire team a jolt of confidence to get that touchdown.  More would follow.  This group also contributed a few key possession catches by Cody Core and a single but extremely important catch late in the game by freshman Markell Pack in traffic.

RUNNING BACK                       B

There is just not a dominant running back on this team.  Not a player that can go toe to toe with TJ Yeldon, but not many players can do that in the nation.  The key was when the Rebels needed a few yards late in the game, Jaylen Walton, all 5′-8″ of him, ran as hard as he could and helped extend some drives.  With only 39 yards on 11 carries, he didn’t exactly stand out but with every point and yard important, Ole Miss could not have won without him.  Especially as he caught the game winning touchdown sprinting out of the backfield on a endzone fade.

OFFENSIVE LINE                       B

A battered, picked-on unit showed they can play with the SEC’s best on saturday.  They had some weak moments in the second quarter but after halftime adjustments they shored up the Alabama pass rush and negative plays and began to push back a little bit.  Success like this can help them really start to dominate in the future.  I still hope the run blocking can improve and we can get a little more balanced offensively.

SECONDARY                              A

This group stepped up big time and while they frequently grade out well, they certainly deserved their grade this week.  The secondary is still so thin.  They lost three players before the season with transfer Tee Shepard being ruled ineligible, Carlos Davis and Cheif Brown being out with injury, and these guys are still performing out of this world.  The top three tacklers Saturday were Tony Conner (10) Trae Elston (9) and Cody Prewitt (8).  I hate to see Elston set out the first half but he will provide some good depth in the second half against the Aggies.

LINEBACKERS                             B

You didn’t see the linebackers blowing up Alabama behind the line of scrimmage, but what they do so well, is force the opposition to the sideline, and they dont get beat to the corner.  Often, even while blocked they affect the play by forcing screens inside so the huskys and defensive backs can clean up the play.  This is such a hybrid defense its hard to grade them on the standards of just a few years ago, but this group can get up in the gaps and run down the line.  It’s a system that works well and all the units work together.

DEFENSIVE LINE                       A

The depth along the line is starting to show.  With the Bama lineman focusing on CJ Johnson and Robert Nkemdiche, the other players are starting to produce in a big way.  Fadol Brown, Bryon Bennett and Issac Gross all had 6 tackles a piece, Bennett also notched his first sack.

SPECIAL TEAMS                         B

The kicking game is still a little uneasy for me as they are still splitting time with Gary Wunderlich and Andrew Fletcher.  Fletcher is a little more accurate on the short kicks while Wunderlich has a little more leg.  Well they both missed a crucial extra point that would have put the Rebels up by a full 7 points with 2.56 left in the game.  Too much time to hand the ball back to Alabama with only a 6 point lead.

Mark Dodson started off the ball game with a 70 yard kickoff return, Walton had a 40 yarder later on and freshman Markell Pack didn’t have any problems holding on to the football in this game as oppossed to the Memphis game.