OXFORD- While the Ole Miss Rebels football program and its fans are in no position to complain about any win, this past Saturday’s victory over the Southeastern Louisiana Lions did not do much to inspire confidence. For a program coming off NCAA sanctions and the 23rd-ranked team in the country in the California Golden Bears, an eleven point win over an FCS program was surely not the plan coming into week three.
With that being said: Let’s break down the good, the bad, and the ugly in the win over the SELA Lions for Ole Miss.
Good: The offensive play calling has improved for the third time in as many weeks. It is becoming very apparent that while this offense will stay run-first, offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez realizes the natural arm talent behind center with Matt Corral. A lot of RPO was featured in the game plan, which caters perfectly to a unit with its running backs as the main strength.
Good: Jerrion Ealy finally got to show out. Granted, it was against an FCS defense. However, on a day where senior back Scottie Phillips only gained seventeen yards on his first ten carries, the breakout performance could not have come at a better time. Along with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, he also added nine carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. Add to that the blazing speed and surprising strength of a 5’9, 180-pound back, and Rebel fans everywhere can now see what a gem the former five-star recruit can be in the coming games and years.
Good: While the defense certainly did not turn in its best performance of the year, the four forced turnovers are a bright spot for anyone that is a member of the Ole Miss faithful. After two years of a defense under Wesley McGriff that could never seem to be in the right spot to force takeaways, it was a breath of fresh air to see three interceptions and a fumble recovery, even if it was much inferior competition.
Bad: As said prior, this was not the defense’s best performance of the season by far; it would be very easy to label as the worst yet now a quarter through the 2019 season. While the front seven did an excellent job only allowing 68 rushing yards, the pass rush could never seem to get going, with only two sacks being registered by the defense. As for the secondary, the three interceptions were a big part in the Rebels’s victory. Yet, allowing 307 passing yards at a 64% completion percentage will not suffice in SEC play. The corners seemed to just give too much room to the receivers all game, and whether it was schematic as to not show California too much or lack of faith in the secondary, its a problem that will need to be improved quickly. Otherwise, Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and others will feast on Ole Miss in conference play.
Bad: Luke Logan has simply got to be better. Between shanking the opening extra point and missing a 43-yard field goal, consistency must improve for Logan heading into a big game this weekend and conference games in which he may be relied on to make big kicks. He surely will need his mind right against a California team that he missed a go-ahead kick against in 2017.
Ugly: Simply put, this Ole Miss team seemed to come out with the eyes locked in on the September 21 showdown with the Golden Bears, as the defense could never seem to take over against lesser talent. The offense could never get much going after putting up 27 in the first half. Again, this may be partly on the coaching staff wanting to not give away too much to California, especially on the defensive side. However, it did seem as though there were points in which the effort was just not quite there for the Rebels on Saturday.