Ole Miss football looked much better yesterday against the No.12 ranked Auburn Tigers, however it was too little too late. The Rebels fell 23-44.
After a strong start to the 2017 season which saw Ole Miss football put up some really big numbers and a 2-0 record, the Rebels fell off the radar. To say the past three games have been rough is an understatement. However, maybe the Rebels are out of their offensive slump after an impressive second half against the potent Tigers defense.
In a loss it can be very tough to find positives, however the Rebels looked like a different team in the second half yesterday. It looked like they played with more authority and made a valiant effort in establishing a comeback. Of course, there are a few variables which assisted in their second half performance.
Naturally, OHT will be handing out grades later in the week. We have to believe they’ll look much better than last weeks grades. However, for now, we’ll simply look at yesterday’s game by the numbers. See what you think.
By The Numbers
Ole Miss Rebels Football
Of course, the numbers always tell the story of the game. When we have a loss, the one big number which sticks out is the one which matters most. The final score.
In this case, 23-44 was a vast improvement over the 66-3 thrashing we took the last week. Honestly, at this stage of Ole Miss football, I’ll take that.
However, the stats always show the areas in which we are improving in and the areas where we need much more work. The stat-line for the Auburn game proves we are getting better.
In the game, Shea Patterson had much better stats than the previous week. Shea was 34 of 51 for 346 yards and 2 TDs. In my opinion his most impressive number was 0 INTs. Overall, Shea was sacked only once though he was under constant pressure for most of the game. Patterson extended his numbers as SEC passing leader in the game.
AJ Brown appeared to be back full speed with 10 receptions for 109 yards. Van Jefferson had 8 receptions for 89 yards while DK Metcalf had 4 receptions for 28 yards and 2 TDs.
Jordan Wilkins once again was the dominant rusher for the Rebels with 13 carries for 65 yards and a TD. However, the Rebels once again failed to establish a much of a rushing attack while netting only 83 yards on the ground throughout the game. Wilkins also had 5 receptions in the game for 66 yards.
There are still obvious blocking scheme issues within the offense when it comes to line play. However, they did continue to play clean football. On the day Ole Miss football committed only 4 penalties for -30 yards.
I understand defense is a sore subject for most of us. We haven’t seen much good defense from the Rebels going back to the 2015 season. However, this defense is getting better. Of course, when you give up 44 points in SEC play there is a high likelihood of a loss. That’s no big surprise really.
Of course, coach Gus Malzahn has a very potent offense and after the rushing yardage given up the previous weekend in T-town, we knew what to expect from the Tigers. We got a heavy dose of the Auburn rushing attack and it was solid. Poor tackling attributed to a number of lengthy plays. Auburn ran 72 plays on the day with 51 being dedicated to the running game. The Rebels allowed 341 yards rushing on the day while allowing 561 total yards. Marquis Haynes had the only sack on the day.
It’s obvious the young Rebel defense is very porous against the run and even Luke noted the problem with giving up big plays. According to OleMissSports.com,
"“They took it to us in the first half. We struggled to score points in the red zone, missed a field goal and settled for another one. We gave up explosive plays.” Interim Head Coach Matt Luke"
Is The OM Defense Back?
Of course, when you look at the numbers the final score always sticks out. In this case, the second half was won by the Ole Miss defense. Ole Miss allowed only 9 points against the No.12 Auburn Tigers in the second half. As bad as we’ve looked since half-time of the Cal game, the second half of the Auburn game was a huge win.
Inconsistent play on both sides of the ball have haunted the Rebels over the past 3 games. However, if the Rebels can play fundamentally sound ball in the coming weeks we can count on a few more wins. Coach Wesley McGriff has to get the most from this talented young defense and has failed to do that until the last 2 quarters of play. Obviously, the defense still has a lot to work on.
Remember, grades come out later this week. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest Ole Miss news and opinion. Hotty Toddy!