Ole Miss football fans were expecting a huge win Saturday but it wasn’t that easy as we watched the Rebels struggle early.
Coming off a big week-one win over Texas Tech left Rebels fans wanting more Ole Miss football and we got it in a sketchy week-two 76-41 win over SIU. The win really comes as no surprise but was very important heading into week-three when the Alabama Crimson Tide comes visiting in the Vaught. What was surprising is how it took almost three quarters for Matt Luke and the Rebels to control the game. After week-one despite the win there were some glaring issues which needed to be fixed this week.
Earlier in the week OHT released the five things Rebel Nation would be looking for in Saturdays game. We identified red-zone scoring, defense, more rushing, secondary depth and younger players getting snaps. These are all things where we saw we needed improvements from week-one and we hoped to see it against Southern Illinois. Here are first thoughts on what we saw against the Salukis.
What We Saw
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As good as it was to get the 76-41 win the first-half performance of the defense was terrible and very unacceptable for the Ole Miss football standard. The Salukis put up 31 points and 386 yards of total offense in the first half against a SEC team. There were missed assignments, blown coverages and some of the worst tackling I can recall as a Rebels fan and I know I’m not alone.
While many Ole Miss Rebels fans were calling for McGriff’s head at the half the Rebels defense was apparently making adjustments and held SIU to just 3 points for the remainder of the game. We saw the Rebels defense step up in the second half and makes some big plays. With Bama coming to Oxford next week the defense is very alarming and if they don’t pick up where they left off it could be a long and ugly day for the Rebels defense.
On The Offense
Offensively there were obvious improvements made from week-one. The entire game with the exception of two drives Jordan Ta’amu and the Rebels offense was jam-up. Ta’amu was very impressive once again racking up 448 passing yards and 5 TDs. With DaMarkus Lodge out we saw Braylon Sanders have a great game and saw freshman WR Elijah Moore get his first career TD. We also saw freshman QB Matt Corral get his first action of the season and had a rushing TD.
Today we also see Luke and Longo stay committed to the run game and Scottie Phillips. We also were able to see both true freshmen RBs Isaiah Woullard and Tylan Knight get some valuable snaps and were both productive out of the backfield. The Rebels offense continues to show its dominance up front and at the wide receiver position. By my count the Rebels were perfect in the Red-zone.
There are serious issues with the Rebels defense which were obvious in the first half of todays game. I applaud the fact the Rebels turned the defense up in the second half; they literally looked like a completely different team. I’m not a fan of the 4-2-5 defense or the game-plan McGriff had in the first half, however the adjustments he made at the half were positive. There is still a lot of work to be done before this defense faces the Crimson Tide.
I’m really happy with the poise which Jordan Ta’amu displayed in the game. Ta’amu never got rattled and taking care of the ball made some great throws. Despite Ta’amu and the offense having a great afternoon there are some things left to clean up on that side of the ball. The Rebels offense is very good and will only get better but they must have help from the defense next week and into the rest of the SEC schedule. Today with the exception of the porous defense we saw just about everything we were looking for.
It was great to see the Rebels put up 76 points and get the win. I had originally predicted the Rebels winning 63-28 so I was also happy to see the Rebels defense show-up in the second half today. Be sure to watch for our post-game review where we will look at the Rebels win over the Salukis by the numbers. Congrats to coach Matt Luke and the Rebels. Hotty Toddy!