Ole Miss Football: Grading Out The Rebels Against California

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Trust me, this might not be what some of you want to hear, coaches included. I’m not here to beat a dead horse, however there were a few obvious things which jumped out. There’s no denying we had an obvious problem the other night in the second half.

Once again, it was The Tale of Two Halves. It was also The Tale of Two Coaching Staffs. Besides the Cal locker room visit from Brock Huard and the fault line, there was nothing else which changed after the half besides coaching staffs and the final score.

I already said coach Luke looked like a deer in the headlights so here goes. After the half there were obvious differences in the game, every aspect. Momentum changed and once it did the game dwindled away from what we’ve seen from Ole Miss football in the first two games.

The most obvious was on offense. Injuries, penalties and a full blitz all played their part in the aftermath. However, the main difference was in the locker-room at half-time. The Cal coaching staff had a plan for the second-half and the Ole Miss staff didn’t. There were no obvious adjustments from first to second half for the Ole Miss staff.

So, you are dominating a team from the PAC-12 on their home-field and a half hour later you are trailing. There are a multitude of problems which seem to cascade down upon you and there is no plan B. We had no back-up plan for what Cal did in the second half to our sophomore quarter-back and young offense.

Offense, D

Ok, let’s go ahead and address the elephant in the room. We can’t play this way against Bama or any other SEC team on offense. Saban and the rest of the SEC have seen what happens when you blitz an entire half on us. The 11 point loss tells me it won’t be pretty.

We had no obvious plan to counter what Cal did to us. I’ve always like the numbers Longo has put up with this offense, however I have been sold that he can make adjustments. We hadn’t seen it in the first two games and we didn’t see it against Cal.

I’m no collegiate offensive coordinator, however I’m not blind. I know when you have a full-on blitz you beat it with the run. We have to be able to run the ball to compete in the SEC period. A 50+ rushing game won’t cut it.

I’m not worried about Shea or our receivers, they are some of the best in the country. Losing Sean Rawlings hurts us and it showed in the rhythm of the game against Cal. Yes, false-starts happen in games but not to the extent they did against Cal. No back-up plan which was proven. I rest my case.

Defense, C-

This will be the best part of our season if we just give it time. As far as coaching staffs go, I’m way more sold on the defensive side of the ball. Wesley McGriff is a great coach, recruiter and motivator, one way or another he will get the best of every player on every play.

One thing is for sure, the defense held Cal to a low enough total the game should have fallen in the favor of Ole Miss. However, in an 11 point loss the defense giving up 20 second half points plays hard into the loss.

One thing I’ve learned when it comes to grading out coordinators, one can definitely save the other and they did in this case. The Ole Miss defense played the entire game and that’s what we are looking for in this unit. When they learn how to play together then they’ll make a huge difference in low scoring games.

Head Coach, D-

As I stated before I’m a huge Luke fan and I want to see him succeed. I also don’t want to see him swallowed alive amidst the grind of SEC play. Here we are. In less than two weeks we’ll take on one of the premier tests in college football.

In recent years Ole Miss football has done well against the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss has won 10 out of the last 12 quarters against the Tide and of course we want more. We have a team to beat the Tide, however it all hinges on Matt Luke and his ability to get the most from this Ole Miss team.

There were obvious adjustment issues against Cal. Luke and company failed to full and wholly compensate for what Cal brought in the second half and it showed in the final score. Can Matt Luke rein in this Rebel group in the next two weeks and take Bama? We have to wait and see.

Next: We'll Be OK!

The Ole Miss Rebels will travel to Tuscaloosa and Bryant-Denny Stadium to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8pm CT and will be televised on ESPN.