Ole Miss loses to Arkan…wait…what?

There is no way anyone that watched the first three and a half quarters of this game thought Ole Miss was leaving Little Rock with a W.

And let’s be honest. The Rebels were destined to lose even in the 3rd quarter, because the Razorbacks were knifing through the Ole Miss defense like soft butter. The starting running back (Boyd) had 109 yards on 7 carries. But then Arkansas lost that same running back and his backup to injury. And then Ole Miss safety Zedrick Woods laid the Wood to Arkansas QB Ty Storey and knocked him out…literally. And suddenly a defense with no chance had a chance.

Arkansas’ bad fortune shouldn’t take away from a masterful performance by Jordan Ta’amu. A running Ta’amu is an absolute killer, and Ta’amu ran a lot. He ran for 141 yards and passed for 387 more. Arkansas was helpless to stop him. (MORE TA’AMU RUNS PLEASE)

And somehow what seemed so unlikely for most of the game happened – Ole Miss won.

Maybe the why doesn’t matter. Ole Miss won and moved to 5-2.

The Basement trophy belongs to Arkansas.

We should be ecstatic to be 5-2, but the Ole Miss defense is still appallingly bad. The Rebels won by the hair of their chinny chin chin against a now 1-6 Arkansas that lost to North Texas a lot worse than this.

The fact that we are celebrating barely surviving Arkansas feels wrong, but I guess that’s just where Ole Miss is as a program right now. It’s not great. Even though it’s 5-2. That’s ordinarily a really good start for Ole Miss.

It’s complicated.

Life is weird.

Arkansas presents good test case for how Ole Miss will look against bad to mediocre SEC competition

As an Ole Miss fan, a 4-2 record in early October normally feels pretty good. The post-season is just two wins away (for teams that are eligible for that kind of thing), and that seems doable with six remaining.

But this 4-2 record doesn’t come with the usual optimism, and that’s mostly due to the defensive struggles we’ve witnessed and because the offense has looked sub-par against the likes of Alabama, LSU and even in that first half against Kent State.

But after a complete annihilation of Louisiana Monroe, maybe the offense has found the secret sauce.

We’ll find out on Saturday. That’s when Ole Miss takes on 1-5 Arkansas.

For the Rebels to win this game, the offense is going to have to be positively on point. I shouldn’t have to write that about a game against an opponent that’s 1-5 with losses to Colorado State and North Texas, but because of the defensive issues it’s just the truth. Even after the win over ULM, the Ole Miss defense is still 123rd in Total Defense.

Arkansas will score.

Jordan Ta’amu and NWO will have to bring their A-game for the Rebels to win. I am genuinely curious as to whether Phil Longo’s offense will be good enough against a bad SEC team for that to happen. Here’s hoping. Otherwise, 4-2 will erode to 4-8 over the next two months.

Burrow’s performance at Florida is a bad yet unsurprising sign for what’s to come from the Ole Miss defense

One of the most disturbing things about the Ole Miss defense on Saturday didn’t take place at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It was hundreds of miles to the south down in Gainesville.

That’s where LSU quarterback Joe Burrow looked very, very average (19/34 191 yards passing, 10 carries for 22 yards rushing) in a loss to the Florida Gators.

Burrow had been the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Week after playing Ole Miss just one week prior. Against a real defense he didn’t have much to offer.

My point is simply that the Ole Miss defense is so inadequate that I’m afraid we will see quarterbacks and running backs from the remainder of the SEC schedule also enjoy career games against the Rebels.

Happy Monday.

Ole Miss moves to 4-2 and sparks hope for Arkansas

Ole Miss looked like a dadgum title contender on its way to a 70-21 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.

Jordan Ta’amu was firing lasers. The receivers were unstoppable. Running backs ran free. It was a sight to behold.

And then the defense held ULM to 21 points. Not perfect, but what more can be asked from a unit struggling to find confidence and so low on depth that it had guys who were running backs a week ago playing safety?

Of course we know that Ole Miss isn’t a title contender. The Rebels aren’t even bowl eligible. Improvement is the name of the game this season, and it could be argued that Ole Miss improved this week.

It could also be argued that this game was nothing more than another non-conference mirage. The defense still allowed Caleb Evans to pass for 297 yards and that’s a lot. And we’ve seen this amazing offense become ordinary against better teams.

But the Rebels were dominant enough offensively against Monroe that it makes me once again hope that this performance is a sign of what Ole Miss might look like against SEC competition starting with Arkansas next weekend. Maybe just maybe Ta’amu has broken through the issues that stymied the offense against Alabama and LSU. Maybe the defense has gotten just a bit more feisty.

With Alabama as the common denominator (or dominator), the Razorbacks and Rebels look like a pair of fairly evenly matched football teams. I’m expecting a barn burner. Both teams will likely score many points and we will probably be reaching for calming elixers in the 4th quarter. Just like the Ole Miss – Arkansas games to which we are accustomed.

If Ole Miss can beat Arkansas it will kindle some hope for the remainder of the SEC schedule. Hope is all this blogger really wants right now. Today I have a little.

Ole Miss defense paves way for Joe Burrow to get an SEC offensive honor

As I said in my podcast today, some of the Ole Miss defensive woes can be pinned on the offense for making them be on the field so dang long. However, lest anyone mistakenly believe the Ole Miss defense is improving, let’s take a look at Joe Burrow’s stats leading up to the Ole Miss game.

Miami: 140 yds passing, 14 yds rushing
SELA: 151 yds passing, 20 yds rushing
Auburn: 249 yds passing, 22 yds rushing
Louisiana Tech: 191 yds passing, 2 yds rushing

Even against the Louisiana directional schools, Burrow’s numbers are pedestrian at best.

Now, let’s take a look at what Burrow did against Ole Miss!

292 yards passing. 96 yards rushing. 

Somebody give this man the SEC Player of the Week Award!

Unfortunately, Burrow is the first of many that will enjoy career games against Ole Miss this season.

Another note:

SELA held the Tigers to 31 points while Louisiana Tech allowed 38. The Tigers scored 45 against Ole Miss.

I think you get my point here.

There’s just not much to say for Ole Miss right now

It would be easy to beat up on Ole Miss after another blowout loss to an SEC team, but that’s a waste of time at this point.

If you’ve watched Ole Miss play the last four games, you knew the Rebels didn’t have a prayer against LSU.

The real test is in two weeks when the Rebels travel to Arkansas. If Ole Miss can’t beat the Hogs then go ahead and write down 0-8 SEC.

Also, prepare yourself for the worst, because the Ole Miss defense made Joe Burrow look like the second coming of Lamar Jackson on Saturday night in Baton Rouge. There’s no reason to think it won’t do the same for the QB from Arkansas.

Ole Miss gets a do-over

Okay. It’s not really a do-over, but after getting beat by Alabama 62-7, this next game against LSU feels like a lot like do-over.

Do you remember do-overs?

When I was a kid, I sought a “do-over” many a time when competing with friends.

For example, when playing HORSE.

If I tried to make a shot backwards and bricked it, I would scream “do-over” and then make up some excuse for why I was entitled to a do-over.

Perhaps the wind was blowing too hard. Or my friend was mouth breathing too loud. Something. Anything for a do-over.

Ole Miss vs. LSU is the Rebels’ chance at a do-over on that Alabama game.

The Tigers are good football team. A Top 5 team according to the latest AP Poll. The defense looked better that stout against both Miami and Auburn.

This is the Rebels’ chance to look like it belongs on the same football field with a Top 10 football team.

Against Alabama, that was not the case.

So, this is the chance for Ole Miss to change the story. For the offense to be dynamic against a premier defense. For the defense to finally clamp down an opposing offense.

The stars will have to align. Lightning will have to strike, too.

But 10 years ago today, Ole Miss pulled off an improbable upset of Florida that nobody saw coming, especially your’s truly proving that anything can happen. Just ask Tim Tebow.

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Ole Miss gets a 38-17 win that didn’t feel that great

Ole Miss improved to 3-1 after a 38–17 win over Kent State, but if ever a 38-17 win felt disheartening it was this one.

It’s hard to find reasons to be optimistic about SEC play after watching a first half that ended with a 7-7 halftime score against a middling MAC opponent. The win doesn’t inspire much confidence heading into a date with LSU.

The Kent State Golden Flashes still gained yards too easily at times, and now the offense seems to be struggling, too, as the Rebels couldn’t get it going in the game’s first two quarters.

Thankfully, Jordan Ta’amu and his receivers finally returned to form in the second half, but the struggles in the first half are worrisome. Kent State’s defense, ranked 108th in Total Defense before the game, isn’t good, and the Rebels couldn’t score for 30 minutes.

Phil Longo’s offense has a hot/cold nature to it that is confusing. How can the same team that at times makes scoring touchdowns look easier than walking to the mailbox be held to two touchdowns over six quarters?

Maybe it was just a lingering hangover from the loss to Alabama, but Ole Miss can’t afford for its offense to be off, even for a half, in SEC play.

On the bright side, the Rebels defense looks like it is still trying to get better, which is a good sign after terrible performances against Southern Illinois and Alabama. The multiple sacks of Kent State’s QB were a positive, as was holding the Flashes to 17 points. The Rebs were not inspiring memories of the Steel Curtain by any means, but the positives are enough to give Matt Luke and Wesley McGriff some small building blocks to work with going forward.

The fear is that Ed Orgeron’s LSU Tigers are going to take those building blocks and smash them into a powder so fine that any net positive from this win over Kent State will evaporate into the Baton Rouge night air.

Unfortunately, I did not see enough from the Ole Miss defense to make me think that won’t happen.

But Ole Miss is 3-1, so I guess that’s good.

Kent State is not a gimme (for Ole Miss)

Be forewarned.

Kent State has a pretty good quarterback. His name is Woody Barrett. He’s a transfer from Auburn, and he passed the ball 41 times against Illinois, connecting on 27 of them for 270 yards. Barrett also rushed for 117 yards.

Having watched the Ole Miss defense play three times now, I can write definitively that you have every right to be very afraid of a quarterback that can run and pass. The Rebels are not good at defending either. See Exhibit 1.

The Illinois defense compares favorably to Ole Miss. The Fighting Illini currently rank 115th in total defense, whereas the Rebels are down deep in the dregs at 126th (out of a possible 129…yeesh).

If Barrett did that to Illinois, the Ole Miss defense is about to give up some yards and points.

Kent State was crushed by Penn State last week, but don’t even think about comparing Ole Miss to Penn State.  In that loss, Barrett passed the ball 38 times.

The moral of this story is that Woody Barrett is going to pass the football around against Ole Miss, and he’s probably going to run, too. So just get ready.

Things to know about Kent State:

  1. Also known as the Golden Flashes.
  2. Defense is currently ranked 108 in NCAA.
  3. Kent State is a member of the MAC (in other words, not an FCS school like say…Southern Illinois).
  4. Kent State is 1-2, with losses to Illinois (31-24) and Penn State (63-10) and a win over Howard (54-14).

It probably goes without saying that this game is not a gimme, but I know there are those who are out there who believe it is. Don’t.

No game is a gimme when your team’s defense is in complete disarray.

All that said, Jordan Ta’amu and NWO should return to form and score some points as Kent State’s defense isn’t very good either.

Brace yourself for a game that looks a lot like the Southern Illinois game. Only this time, you shouldn’t get mad because you know what to expect.

That is all.

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