Ole Miss moves to 7-0 against the Tennessee Volunteers with a statement score of 34-3 on Homecoming in Oxford. The score is a bit misleading and while UT has a good defensive backfield, you can see some of the chinks in the armor this year as the Ole Miss offensive line struggled to get the running game started early. They didn’t get out of the negative on rushing yards until the teams first scoring drive which occurred with 5 minutes left in the first half.
If Tennessee had a better quarterback, Ole Miss could have been down by 10 points or more in the second quarter and the way the UT defense was playing, the Rebels would have been in trouble.
Lets take a look at each position grade for the Tennessee game.
To the Rebel’s credit, Bo Wallace was patient. Even with horrible field position (Ole Miss average start was on their own 14 in the first quarter), Wallace didn’t get rattled, he didn’t try to force a pass or make a bad decision. He has faith in this defense and is content to wait for his opportunity.
Wallace finished 13 – 28 for 199 yards passing, his worst completion percentage on the year and second lowest passing total but the obvious big take away is zero turnovers for the third straight game.
Jeremy Liggins makes me nervous throwing the ball. He needs to show he has the ability to pass so the defenses don’t stack the box when he comes in the game, but it just looks like an interception when he makes a throw. Luckily he only passed once for an incompletion.
Devante Kincade got some work in late and completed a pass and was 3 for 15 yards on scrambles.
The team only recorded 14 receptions but what a night for Vince Sanders. The senior finished with 108 yards on only 4 catches and a touchdown. Sanders bailed out Bo Wallace early when Treadwell was covered up, he stepped up and willed his way into the end zone on two straight grabs that were well defended.
Once Sanders started to produce, it opened up some daylight for Treadwell who finished 4 for 43 yards; Cody Core had a 12 yards reception to keep a drive going in the second half.
RUNNING BACK C
The Rebels ran the ball 47 times which was the second highest in total attempts since they ran 50 against Vanderbilt early in the year. They did get 180 yards against some solid linebackers. I said in my game preview that if they get 150 on the ground against Tennessee’s linebackers that would be great. Of course they only had 47 rushing yards at halftime, that has to improve. The Rebels can not get off to such slow starts in the second half of the SEC season.
Jaylen Walton continues to lead the group in rushing average with 10 carries for 60 yards, Jordan Wilkins had a career night with 6 for 45. Mathers only went 6 for 12 yards which is disappointing.
Jordan Wilkins wearing #22 is starting to show signs of another Rebel wearing #22 that we all remember fondly. When he jumped through the line and ran for 19 yards on 4th and 1 in the second quarter, it made me think he can contribute a lot more to this team.
OFFENSIVE LINE C
Hugh Freeze is trying to slow down the games, run some clock and take advantage of the way his defense is playing right now, but there is a trade off. If you can’t control the line of scrimmage and get positive yards in the run game, the results are tackles for loss.
This o-line is still not going to overpower SEC teams and that is cause for concern in the next few weeks. They gave up 10 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 5 plays on running backs.
Luckily so far, the games have been out of reach for the most part and pounding the ball is not critical, but it might be soon. The Rebels have to be able to run the ball, just a little bit when the other team is expecting them to do so.
Part time center Ben Still could miss the LSU game with an MCL injury.
TIGHT END B
When Evan Engram gets a touchdown, that’s a good night right? Only 1 catch for 28 yards but it was pretty spectacular and pushed the lead out to 24 – 3 in the third quarter.
Give this group a B? I am LOL’ing. Senquez Golson is making his case for a Charles Woodson type season as he added two more interceptions to stay near the top of the national leaders in that column. The next closest player in the SEC has 3 interceptions. Golson is more than doubling up the SEC. It is phenomenal that quarterbacks still throw to the right side of the field at all. LSU will likely not do that Saturday night.
If you avoid Golson, you have to deal with Mike Hilton who got his second interception this week.
This group is just filthy, only allowing Justin Worley to complete 56% of his passes for 191 total passing yards, both season lows for the senior QB.
Deterrian Shackelford led the team with 8 tackles and a sack. Denzel Nkemdiche had 4 tackles and a sack. This group helped hold Tennessee to zero yards in 28 attempts. Not one positive yard.
This line puts so much pressure on teams with only 3 or 4 players at a time. SEC freshman player-of-the week was given to Marquis Haynes who finished with 5 tackles and 2.5 sacks. That gives him 6.5 sacks on the year and he is well on his way to breaking Jadaveon Clowney’s freshman sack record of 8.
Robert Nkemdiche flushed the pocket so often, he should be given half credit for some of the 15 interceptions this defensive backfield has gotten. Without the pressure from the D-line, this Ole Miss team would not be undefeated in mid-October.
SPECIAL TEAMS B
Great games by punter Will Gleeson who had 9 punts for a 48 yard average and Gary Wunderlich was 2 for 3 on field goals.
Kick returner Markell Pack continues to get lost and put the team in bad field position. Eugene Brazley got in a time or two and you may see more of Brazley until Pack can begin to make better decisions.