Ole Miss football fans have watched as the Rebels defensive woes have gotten to the critical point and many Rebels fans are quick to pass judgement.
College football fans today are more fickle than ever with little to no patience. Ole Miss fans are no different, maybe worse. With the defensive performances or lack there of the last two weeks, Rebel fans are quick to point the finger at the Ole Miss defensive coaches, especially Defensive Coordinator Wesley McGriff. The Ole Miss Landshark defense has been more like gold-fish in an aquarium swimming around not knowing where to go.
There is no doubt it‘s the coaches responsibility to teach these kids the X’s and O’s of the game, but this will only go so far. Don’t get me wrong. Do I think there may be issues on the coaching staff? There certainly might be, but let’st take a look the elephant in the room nobody seems to be talking about. Hugh Freeze’s 2016 signing class was highly ranked.
Depending on your service of choice that class was ranked third in the SEC and fifth nationally. Many from this class are now juniors, so why is the defense playing so poorly? Let’s peel back the onion from the 2016 class. There is no doubt the 2016 class was great, but let’s take a look at the reality of that class. The class was heavy on offense with sixteen of the twenty-five signees being offensive players and nine on the defensive side.
Taking A Closer Look
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If you take a closer look at the defensive side of this class, it’s painfully obvious on why we are in the state we are in. Of the nine defensive players Ole Miss signed, only seven remain. Deontay Anderson transferred out after the 2017 season and Greg Elsworth never made it to campus.
If you look at other top recruiting classes around the country, none of them signed so few defensive players. Of the remaining seven, there is one five-star in Benito Jones and two four stars in the injured Jaylon Jones and Charles Wiley. The other four are three star players. Also, of the seven only two are linebackers and two are defensive linemen.
It is obvious to me Head Coach Hugh Freeze was enamored with offense and simply missed the boat on defense. We are paying the price for that philosophy right now. The easy thing to do is to pile on Wesley McGriff and his defensive staff, but we can’t ignore the facts surrounding the 2016 class.
No Quick Fix
Ole Miss fans want to make a mid-season change at defensive coordinator. Will that really solve the existing defensive woes? The Texas Longhorns made a change in 2013, replacing Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz with Greg Robinson. The next weekend in Austin the Rebels routed the Longhorns and their defense had no answers for the Ole Miss offense.
The bottom line is this. Making coaching changes is no guarantee for improvement and anyone that knows football will tell you Jimmy’s and Joe’s will beat X’s and O’s every time. Keep this in mind as we continue through the 2018 season. There is no instant fix.