No. 13 Ole Miss fell to Memphis 37-24 on the road on Saturday. The Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes, but 31 unanswered points from the Tigers was too much to overcome.
Here are the grades Ole Miss gets for their loss at Memphis:
Realistically, most of Ole Miss’ issues offensively stem from the problems along the offensive line. Center Robert Conyers went down in the first half, and things went from bad to worse for the Rebel offense. However, Ole Miss showed flashes of moving the ball at will. Both quarterback Chad Kelly and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell set schools records, so it couldn’t have all been bad. But ultimately, Ole Miss needed a lot more than it got, and the lack consistency up front doomed the Rebels.
Coming into the season, some folks in Oxford said this year’s Landshark defense could be better than last year’s unit, which ranked near the top nationally in every statistical category. Let’s just say whoever made those remarks should be hiding behind a rock right now. If Ole Miss could play two downs and quit, they’d be a pretty dang good defense. But unfortunately for the Rebels, third downs are part of the game, and Memphis sliced through Ole Miss when it mattered most. The Tigers converted 12 of 20 third down attempts on Saturday, and Memphis piled up 491 total yards, including 384 yards from quarterback Paxton Lynch.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Ole Miss kicker Gary Wunderlich made his only field goal attempt, but the Rebels were pretty underwhelming in every other special teams’ category. Ole Miss punter Will Gleeson averaged just 38.4 yards per punt in his five attempts on Saturday, and the Rebels managed just 23 yards on two kickoff returns. On coverage units, Ole Miss gave up 37 yards on two kickoff returns and 20 yards on two punt returns.
Offensively, Ole Miss came out with a great gameplan, and it got the Rebels an early advantage. However, Memphis adjusted, and Ole Miss didn’t. The offensive line makes things difficult, but you have to call plays around your weaknesses and find ways to cover it up. Defensively, the same issues that hurt this team the past few weeks plagued them against Memphis. Last year, Ole Miss’ physicality is what made them a feared defense, but this season the Rebels are playing soft coverage in the secondary. This doesn’t allow their defensive line — which happens to be the strength of the unit — enough time to rush the passer. The game plan against Ole Miss is to get rid of the ball quickly, and that’s exactly what teams have done.
It wasn’t the worst performance Ole Miss could’ve had, although I’m sure it’s hard to imagine it being much worse. But in reality, there are some things the Rebels can take away. By in large, however, Ole Miss has a lot of things it needs to correct. The good news is that the Rebels still control their own destiny in the SEC West, but for Ole Miss to have any shot of running the table, there’s a laundry list of issues to fix before Texas A&M comes to town next Saturday. The return of left tackle Laremy Tunsil drastically changes the look of Ole Miss’ offensive line, so there’s a start. But there’s a lot of work to be done for Freeze and his coaching staff.