The Ole Miss offense may be more potent than it’s ever been…and other thoughts

The Sunday after a season-opening win is a beautiful day indeed. At 1-0, Ole Miss is undefeated and anything feels possible. I hope you’ve enjoyed soaking in that feeling as much as I have.

A few takeaways from Ole Miss’s 47-27 victory over Texas Tech:

  1. The Ole Miss offense is more potent than ever thanks to Scottie Phillips. To quote a comment I saw on Twitter, Phillips can “juke and scoot.” Or as Matt Luke says it, “He has short, quick bursts, but he also has the breakaway speed that he can finish it when he breaks the line.” This was just the first game of the season. If he stays healthy, Phillips could get even better as he gets more familiar with his offensive line and the offense. With his kind of play-making ability in the backfield, the Rebels should be really hard to stop.
  2. Despite what I said above, the Rebels were easy to stop in the 2nd quarter, with two drives ending in field goals and two punts. One of the drives was stopped because of penalties. Of note, Phillips had just one touch in the 2nd quarter (a 15-yard run), with the other two or three carries going to Isaiah Woullard, who went almost nowhere. As great as Ta’amu is, and he is really good, he seems to have problems if his first or second read isn’t open. In fairness, that’s a problem for a lot of quarterbacks, but if Ta’amu wants to take his game to the next level, it’s something he needs to work on.
  3. Ta’amu’s strength is his long ball. He puts it right on the money.

Ta’amu has the sweetest, most accurate touch out there on the homerun passes. It makes me wonder why he doesn’t try it one or two more times a game. With the NFL talent he has on the other end of his passes, it seems like a few more shots down the field are in order. That said, Ta’amu threw ZERO interceptions on Saturday, so I probably shouldn’t complain about his risk taking.

4. I’m scared to buy in to the defense yet. For one, Texas Tech gained a lot of yards with a true freshman, back-up quarterback, and I’m worried the Red Raiders just aren’t very good. BUT, there were flashes that at least give me hope. Late in the game I saw a good push from the defensive line, and the defensive backs were offering tight coverage that included some great pass breakups. Seemed like an improvement, but I’m not going to get over excited until I see more proof. To be continued.

5. I’m really glad Southern Illinois is next. I want to see everybody get better AND stay healthy over the next two weeks. The Salukis should give the Rebels a chance to do both.

6. One thing that has to happen against the Salukis is that Ole Miss simply must develop a backup running back. Woullard rushed for 2 yards on 4 carries. Freshman Tylan Knight had one carry for -1 yards. If anything, God forbid, were to happen Phillips, Ole Miss would be in trouble. As good as Ta’amu is, he still needs a dependable running back. I know Swinney will be back in a couple more weeks, but it would still be good to have another guy, especially considering Swinney’s history of battling injuries.

7. Back to Ta’amu. I love the way he distributes the football.

Lodge: 6 receptions, 96 yds
Brown: 7 receptions, 93 yds, TD
Metcalf: 4 receptions, 81 yds, TD
Sanders: 4 receptions, 60 yds

Defensive backs take note. Overload your coverage on any one of these guys and the next one will burn you. I love it!

8. The kicking game was solid. Luke Logan was money, kicking four field goals, one from 39 yards.

9. During the summer, Ole Miss promoted its offense with a poster that I absolutely loved. It said, “In your endzone in 99 seconds,” touting the nation’s fastest scoring offense. Ta’amu’s TD pass to DK Metcalf on the second play of the game showed that it really can happen at anytime from anywhere on the field. Slow, methodical drives aren’t this team’s bag, and I am okay with that. Ole Miss can hit you for six from anywhere on the field and that adds an extra layer of excitement to every single snap because there’s a real chance lightning could strike each and every time. To me, that’s fun football.

10. I am really glad Football is back. This is my favorite time of year!

11. Shea Patterson made a bad business decision, and that was so apparent on Saturday. Jim Harbaugh and seemingly all the national talking sports heads bought the Patterson hype, but having watched him, we knew better. Similarly, Patterson bought the hype that Harbaugh is a great coach. Those two were made for each other, and yes, I did enjoy watching Notre Dame – Michigan more than I ever have before. Go figure.

Watching Ta’amu and Patterson play on the same day reinforced what I already thought, Harbaugh should have taken Ta’amu to IHOP. Boy am I glad he didn’t.