Ole Miss got an expected victory against Wofford on Saturday. Although it may not have been a work of art, they accomplished what they needed to accomplish.
The most important numbers from the Ole Miss Rebels’ football game against Wofford is the 38-13 winning score. The aesthetics to the game were not pleasing. Also the pace was a tad slow. However, the outcome was the most important factor in this game.
Ole Miss did not need to win by style points. They did not need to put on a show. The Rebels did exactly what they needed to do. They came home and got a sound victory over a less talented team. Anyone that was looking for more than that was looking for a little more than the Rebels were willing to show.
Facing a triple option team is a headache all by itself. But facing a triple option team on a short week with only two days to implement the defense is mentally and physically taxing. Ole Miss coming off a tough loss against Florida State on Monday was a tough hurdle to jump over. They were mentally and physically worn out. Key injuries piled up rapidly on Coach Hugh Freeze’s team.
You could sense the tired legs and lethargy during the first few drives. Chad Kelly appeared to be there physically but he was lacking his usual fire. It clearly showed on his initial drive of the game. He drove Ole Miss down the field on the first series. But the drive fizzled out and they had to settle for a 40 yard field goal from Gary Wunderlich. Kelly seems slow in motion and decision making.
Kelly played fine on Saturday. He didn’t have to be outstanding. He finished 20/27 for 219 yards and three touchdowns. However, his key stat was zero interceptions. Kelly needed a clean game after the turnover-fest during the Florida State game. He accomplished that. The statistics for the entire team seem modest to the casual observer. No one had big numbers. Their was not one person who’s numbers jump off the stat sheet. But there are some key observations from this Rebels’ win.
A Lot of Kids Played
It appeared that if you had pads on, you played in the game. I am speaking hyperbolically of course. However, from my rough counting, Ole Miss used 75 players. That’s 75 players getting on the field in a real game. Experience is vital in college football. Every little bit counts. Though we had a couple of untimely injuries during this game, easing the playing time of other key members of the team saves wear and tear on their bodies.
According to olemisssports.com there were also a few different starters on defense. Jalen Julius got the start at cornerback over Tony Bridges. We also saw the first start of Rommel Mageo. Mageo made the most of his start as he led the team with eight tackles on the night. 32 different players recorded a defensive stat. The defensive coaches did a great job of getting everyone involved. We even got to witness a fumble recovery by seldom used sophomore Jordan Hebert. The bench rejoiced.
They Kept the Offense Simple and Bland
Although the lack of explosive offensive plays may not have pleased the crowd, it was exactly what was needed for the day. Even though Ole Miss would have loved to have won against Florida State on Labor Day, their real season doesn’t start until September 17th. That is when the Alabama Crimson Tide come rolling into town.
The Rebels have their game against the Seminoles on tape. Alabama will be able to use that to scout the team. However, every year Coach Freeze holds something back for the game against the Tide. Whether it is a new wrinkle in an old scheme. Or it may be a completely different offensive look. The idea that he has held something back these first two games is not highly possible but highly probable. He was definitely not going to tip his hand against Wofford.
For the game against Wofford he mostly ran his standard three receiver, read option with a run component. That is standard, vanilla Ole Miss playbook. You will see things against Alabama that he has not tried this year. Coach Freeze always shows Coach Nick Saban something he hasn’t seen from the Rebels.
Wofford was able to be defeated without giving up any secrets. He was able to display his entire talented roster without showing too many plays. Now Alabama must prepare for everyone. I’ll trade an exciting Wofford game for a dramatic win over the Crimson Tide any day. Another victory is in the book and now it’s time to get ready for the Tide. Hotty Toddy!