Well the 2018 Ole Miss football season opening win over Texas Tech is now fresh in the books and OHT has some first thoughts on the game.
Ole Miss football picked up its first win of the 2018 season today when they took down the Texas Tech Red Raiders 47-27 in Houston. The Rebels came into the game with what most college football experts believe to be one of the top offenses in the nation while Texas Tech entered the game with a stout defense which returns 10 starters from 2017. Texas Tech also came into the game as a 2.5 point favorite against the Rebels.
Of course, it is great to get a big season opening win over a good opponent. Texas Tech is a very good well-coached team with a lot of talent and was a good test for the Rebels on both sides of the ball. Naturally we expected to see Jordan Ta’amu and the NWO but Rebels fans were surprised to see the production in the run game from JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips who had 204 yards rushing on 16 carries and 2 TDs in his Rebels debut.
It’s obvious the Rebels do indeed have a potent offense which will be very good this season. While we did see the Rebels struggle to score in the red zone they easily moved the ball between the twenties. We saw a solid game from the offensive line in both pass and run blocking. We saw big plays by the NWO and saw them have success much of the day against a good experienced Texas Tech secondary. Putting up 47 points in the first game of the season against a Big12 team is not an easy task.
The defense looked to be a much improved group from last season and managed to make some big stops in the game which helped secure the Rebels momentum. Coach Wesley McGriff did exactly what we expected by loading the box and we saw the Rebels stuff some runs. We also saw the Rebels secondary play very aggressive and helped to stifle the Kingsbury version of the Air Raid offense. Overall we saw the Rebels play good and get the season opening win and that is important but there are still concerns. First we look at the players who stood out in the win.
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Although I haven’t looked at the complete final numbers from the game there are players which made a very good week-one impression with me. Besides Scottie Phillips of course, there were a number of Rebels who played very well. Naturally Jordan Ta’amu and the NWO had a good day which was expected. There was also red-shirt freshman Ben Brown who made his first start on the Rebels offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball I was excited by the aggressive play of the Rebels young linebackers group and especially true freshman Kevontae’ Ruggs. They swarmed the second level the entire game and have made significant improvements from last season. Ruggs suffered a concussion in the game so we will watch his status. Also impressive was sophomore kicker Luke Logan who was perfect in the game on all 4 of his FG attempts.
A Few Concerns
I’ve been trying to keep in mind this is just the first game of the season and everything I saw will get better and it should. There were a few mistakes on offense which should be corrected in the next week so I’m really not too worried on that side of the ball. The Rebels are a little thin at RB with both Eric Swinney and D’Vaughn Pennamon out. The Rebels had 210 total yards on the ground with Phillips gaining 204 yards of it. What happens if Phillips can’t go? Other than that the Rebels offense seems to be reset from last season.
Ok, on the defense. While he Rebels defensive front failed to record a sack in the game. While this is surprising for the Rebels they were going up against a Texas Tech offensive line which had over 100 combined starts coming into the game. Depth at the linebacker position scares me. The Rebels are already thin there and losing just one could make a huge difference. With the physical nature of the position there is a chance there will be injuries throughout the season. We have to hope they don’t all hit at once.
Overall it was a great season opening win for coach Matt Luke and Ole Miss football over a good Big12 opponent. Way to go Rebels! Please be watching for our week-one post game follow-up which will have all the Rebels numbers for the Texas Tech game. Hotty Toddy!