Ole Miss report card: Season-changing win against Texas A&M
No. 24 Ole Miss got a much-needed win against No. 15 Texas A&M, 23-3, on Saturday. The Rebels jumped out to a 7-0 lead early and extended it to 16-3 by halftime. Ole Miss wouldn’t allow the Aggies to get anything going, as they cruised to a big win.
Here are the grades Ole Miss gets for the win over Texas A&M:
It sounds harsh, but let’s be real here. Yes, Ole Miss was balanced and ran the ball well against a competent team for the first time all season, but the Rebels left a lot of points on the board. A 16-3 halftime lead felt like it should’ve been 30-3. Ole Miss moved the ball at will for most of the night, but silly penalties, bad decisions from quarterback Chad Kelly and some questionable play calls stalled drives that could’ve ended in points.
As coach Hugh Freeze stated after the game, you really can’t ask for anymore from a defense. Ole Miss players talked about how they had a heart-to-heart type of team meeting following the loss to Memphis, and evidently, whatever was said worked. This looked like a team that found its confidence and had a little more pep in its step throughout the game. Ole Miss dominated Texas A&M, and the Aggies have been one of the SEC’s top offenses all season. It was really an outstanding performance from the Landshark defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Gary Wunderlich was a 44-yard missed field goal away from giving the Rebels’ an A, but it was still a solid effort all around. Wunderlich knocked home three field goals and even had three punts that averaged 56.3 yards. But where Ole Miss really impressed was in its return coverage. Everyone has seen what Christian Kirk can do for Texas A&M in the return game, and he was absolutely taken out of the contest by the Rebels.
Job number one this week was to get this team believing in itself again, and there’s no doubt that was accomplished. However, some of the offensive play calling is still puzzling. It had no impact on the game, but the Rebels continued to run the ball straight up the gut on short-yardage situations to no avail. Jeremy Liggins was used in his short-yardage package a couple times, but that only worked out 50 percent of the time. All in all, Ole Miss has to figure something out there going forward.
That might sound harsh considering everything Ole Miss had going against it, but really, it’s a good thing. All season long (and really for more than that), Ole Miss has gone from one extreme to the other without really floating around in the middle. Well, Saturday’s performance was right in the middle. There was plenty to correct going forward, but there was also plenty you had to like about that performance. The bottom line is that the Rebels won a game against a top-15 team without playing very well. Sure, the defense was lights out, but overall, that was far from Ole Miss’ best game.