It wasn’t pretty for No. 19 Ole Miss, but the Rebels got a hard-fought 27-19 road win against Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers couldn’t muster any offensive consistency against Ole Miss, which has put together back-to-back strong defensive performances. The Rebels remain in control of their own destiny in the SEC West.
Here are the grades Ole Miss gets for the win over Auburn:
The Rebels had a good game plan to attack Auburn’s lackluster defense. But although quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 381 yards, the red zone offense continues to be an issue. If the Rebels want to take a step forward and win these crucial upcoming games, they have to execute in short-yardage situations near their opponent’s goal line. The effort was good against Auburn, but in all honesty, the game should’ve never been as close as it was in the final minutes.
Coach Hugh Freeze said it best after the game that Auburn never consistently moved the ball on the Rebels. The Tigers did have one good drive, but other than that, it was chunk plays that came from a guy catching a ball in traffic, a missed offensive pass interference call and a busted coverage. Ole Miss has to avoid giving up those big plays, but give the Landshark defense credit for holding Auburn to four field goals with its back against the wall.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
Gary Wunderlich made both field goals and all three extra points he attempted, the coverage units didn’t allow any big returns and Will Gleeson had three good punts. Gleeson did have one punt he’d like to have back that resulted in Auburn getting a long field goal without needing a first down, but overall, it was a good day for Ole Miss’s special teams.
Ole Miss had a good game plan, and for the most part the team executed. It was the little things that need to be corrected, and if they’re fixed, the Rebels likely win the game going away. Still, it was a solid coaching effort from Freeze and his staff. Red zone issues are still a concern, and the defense can’t count on holding opponents to field goals after giving up numerous big plays. However, there’s not a whole lot you can disagree with from a schematic standpoint.
The bottom line is that wins, particularly on the road, are not easy to come by, and Ole Miss walked away with one. It was a great win for a team that everybody had counted out two weeks ago. The Rebels are quietly hanging around, and if they can gut out one more game against Arkansas, Ole Miss can go into a bye week in control of its own destiny in the SEC West. If that happens, all eyes will be on the November 21 showdown against LSU, which would be Ole Miss’s biggest game since 2003.