Ole Miss Football: Rebels Blowout Salukis Behind Strong Second Half

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 8: Jordan Ta'amu #10 of the Mississippi Rebels throws a pass against the Southern Illinois Salukis during the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 8: Jordan Ta'amu #10 of the Mississippi Rebels throws a pass against the Southern Illinois Salukis during the first half at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Week-two of the 2018 edition of Ole Miss football saw the 1-0 Rebels get their second win of the season Saturday over SIU in a blowout, sort of.

Ole Miss football (2-0) was coming into the season home opener against Southern Illinois (1-1) off a big win over Texas Tech. The SIU Salukis came into Oxford with an impressive season opening win over FCS foe Murray State. While this game was supposed to be nothing more than a warmup for the Rebels before heading into SEC play, the Salukis wouldn’t make it easy. Despite a poor first half defensively the Rebels rallied to get a 76-41.

While the Rebels offense rolled in the first half the defense couldn’t get off the field and the Salukis took advantage rolling up 386 yards of offense and took the 38-35 lead into the locker room at the break. For the Ole Miss defense the game was a tale of two halves. In the second half the Rebels held the Salukis to just 3 points and forced 3 turnovers 2 of which went for defensive TDs. SIU finished the day with 629 yards of total offense coming off 388 passing yards and 241 rushing yards.

The Rebels offense continued to roll in the second half and after a lone Salukis FG scored 34 unanswered points. Jordan Ta’amu and the NWO put on an air show while JUCO transfer RB Scottie Phillips had another productive day out of the backfield. Ole Miss amassed 646 yards of total offense with 479 yards coming thru the air and 167 yards on the ground. Despite the defensive flop in the first half the Rebels made adjustments and the second half belonged to Ole Miss on both sides of the ball. Let’s look at the Rebels week-two win by the numbers.

Rebels Individual Numbers

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With 11 TDs and 76 points you know there are Rebels who had huge games and put up some big numbers. Rebels QB Jordan Ta’amu looked very impressive going 23 of 33 for 448 yards and 5 TDs which are both career highs. Freshman Matt Corral came in late and led a 10-play 70 yard scoring drive which resulted in his first score as a Rebels QB, a 1 yard rushing TD. Corral was 1 for 2 passing for 31 yards on the drive as well.

With 479 receiving yards and 5 TDs the NWO had a huge day as expected and would once again present a strong argument as the best wide receiving corps in the nation. Junior All-American AJ Brown was again unstoppable and led the NWO with 8 receptions for 158 yards and 2 TDs. Sophomore Braylon Sanders caught just 4 passes but had 131 yards receiving and 1 TD while junior DK Metcalf finished with 7 receptions for 93 yards and 1 TD.

NWO Is Pretty Deep

The NWO demonstrated its depth with the first career TD for freshman Elijah Moore who scored on a 50 yard catch and run. Seniors Floyd Allen and Alex Weber each had receptions. Floyd had one catch for 10 yards while Weber made an incredible ‘web gem’ grab for 31 yards which set up the Rebels final score in the game.

There is really no way to truly sum up just how good the NWO is without saying they are the best. They continue to run great routes and find space and make great catches. They also have a very accurate quarterback who can make any throw on the field which certainly helps them continue to put up pretty gaudy numbers.

Rebels Running Game

The Rebels running game took a back stage to the Rebels passing attack against the Salukis. While the Rebels only put up 164 yards on the ground they were effective. Rebels RBs carried the ball 32 times averaging 5.2 yards per carry and scored 4 TDs. JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips had another great game eclipsing the 100 yard mark with 15 carries for 107 yards and 2 TDs.

Freshmen Tylan Knight and Isaiah Woullard got some quality touches in the game. Knight had 4 carries for 26 yards while Woullard finished with 7 carries for 23 yards and 1 TD. Also in the mix in teh backfield was junior Armani Linton who had 3 carries for 12 yards. QB Matt Corral added the Rebels final TD on a 1 yard run.

Rebels Defensive Numbers

We already discussed the way the Salukis offense dominated the Rebels defense in the first half. The second half clearly belonged to the Rebels defense with them holding SIU to just 3 points. Sophomore middle linebacker Mohamed Sanogo led all Rebels with 10 tackles. Senior defensive end Victor Evans had 4 tackles with 2 TFLs and a 56-yard fumble recovery for a TD.

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JUCO transfer nickle-back Vernon Dasher had 5 tackles with 2 pass breakups and a 88-yard INT for a TD. Rebels freshman DB Keidron Smith had 3 tackles and 1 INT. Despite a very poor first half the Rebels played aggressive defense in the second half and it paid off in big stops and also points on turnovers. When you look at the entire game the Rebels are really bad on paper but they found themselves in the second half and played well.

More To Come

Like most Rebels fans OHT is trying to digest the first half of this game. It’s hard to stomach the worry you can have in a-35 point win but it’s here. We will discuss Saturdays 76-41 win in more detail over the next few days as we get closer to the opening of SEC play against No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0). And yes, we really do have a lot to discuss.

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Please be sure to be watching for the five things we learned from Saturdays win and of course we will have plenty coming up this week about the Rebels huge week-three matchup when the Tide comes calling. This will be a big week for Ole Miss football and Rebel Nation. Hang on tight this season could be a wild ride. Be sure to visit and like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter for the latest news and updates. Hotty Toddy!