After building an early 14-0 lead, No. 13 Ole Miss fell to Memphis 37-24 on Saturday.
Memphis hung around through the sluggish start and continued to gain momentum, so much so the Tigers outscored the Rebels 31-0 at one point. Memphis totaled 491 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Paxton Lynch, who ended the day 39-for-53 with 384 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“Congrats to [Memphis coach] Justin [Fuente] and his squad. He’s done a really nice job here and deserved to win today,” coach Hugh Freeze said to reporters following the game. “On our end, very disappointing. I’ve been on the other side of a couple of these wins, and I know what that feels like. But it’s crushing to be on the other side. We did not play particularly well.
“Again, I don’t want to take anything away from Paxton Lynch. He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in my time here. He can make every throw and is very poised. It was very disappointing the way we played, and that starts with me. I have to take responsibility for us, for all facets of it.”
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 372 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on 31-for-43 passing. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell totaled 14 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. Both Kelly and Treadwell set school records in the game.
But ultimately, it was the Ole Miss defense’s inability to get a stop on third down that doomed the Rebels. Memphis converted 12 of 20 third downs.
“We were about as bad as it gets on third down, getting off the field,” Freeze said. “I wish I had all the adjectives. It was as bad as I’ve ever seen.”
Ole Miss’ struggles on the ground continued Saturday. The Rebels only mustered 40 yards on 24 carries on the ground.
Freeze was asked what the problems have been in the running game, but he really didn’t have an answer.
“We just haven’t,” Freeze said. “That’s got to change.”
Freeze also mentioned the need for more leadership in the locker room several times during his time with the media.
“There’s something missing for sure and that’s my responsibility,” Freeze said. “We’re obviously not locked in totally.”
The Rebels will now have the regroup in a hurry with a matchup against Texas A&M looming next Saturday.
“It’s a bad day, and I’m disappointed and hurt for the Ole Miss people more than words can really say because I understand it,” Freeze said. “I know how they feel about their program, and they deserved better today for sure. … We still have a lot to play for as far as our conference goes, but our character will be tested.”
- Ole Miss opened up the game with an incredible trick play for a touchdown
- Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche left the game with a concussion
- Chad Kelly and Laquon Treadwell both broke school records
- Coach Hugh Freeze spoke about using Nkemdiche on offense following the concussion
Below is video of Freeze’s postgame press conference thanks to Parrish Alford of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: