The Ole Miss offense spotted the defense 27 points on Saturday in the Grove Bowl at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The defense could have used just a little more.
But with the news around the Rebels about anything other than football lately, getting out and playing some spring football was a win for the program.
It was also a win for the offense in a 31-29 game, as backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 4:48 remaining to put the offense over the threshold.
“It was just awesome coming out here in game-like situations,” sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson said on the SEC Network telecast. “We are just getting comfortable with everything. It was fun.”
Hugh Freeze’s new top lieutenants had a chance to show off their offense and defense, as offensive coordinator Phil Longo and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff made their debuts.
Longo had to be pleased with the way Patterson looked with his strong cast of weapons on the outside.
Sophomore D.K. Metcalf showed he might be the next Laquon Treadwell or Damore’ea Stingfellow on a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Patterson.
The quarterback also had a 76-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown, as he finished 21-of-30 passing with 341 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“When you have guys like D.K. Metcalf, Van Jefferson and A.J. Brown out there, it just makes your job so much easier,” Patterson said on the SEC Network telecast after the game.
Very impressed with Shea Patterson today. We know he can throw. But has been reading defense well pre-snap. Getting rid of ball FAST.
— Christopher Smith (@csmithSEC) April 8, 2017
Backup QB Jordan Ta’amu found Jefferson for a 74-yard touchdown as well. Ta’amu played well — especially running the ball — and showed he could be the clear-cut No. 2 signal caller for the Rebels.
Pretty good in the middle, pretty bad on the edges for McGriff’s unit.
Tackling was poor in the secondary, leading to some big plays for the offense.
Myles Hartsfield misses tackle on A.J. Brown, who goes for long TD. Brown and Metcalf are good, but those tackles have to be made. #OleMiss
— Davis Potter (@DPotterOE) April 8, 2017
“We have to quit giving up the explosive plays that lead to direct points,” Freeze said on the SEC Network telecast.
Benito Jones was dominant from his defensive tackle position, as Patterson called him a “wrecking ball” in the game.
The defense scored some points of its own as an errant snap from Sean Rawlings went over Patterson’s head, resulting in a safety. McGriff’s unit forced a crucial turnover on a Metcalf fumble early in the fourth quarter, forced by Cam Ordway and recovered by DeMarquis Gates.
It’s a spring game, so there’s not too much to see. Punts aren’t covered and returned, and there are no kickoffs.
That said, kicker Gary Wunderlich and Luke Logan combined to be perfect on extra points. Wunderlich made a 30-yard field goal in the third quarter, but Ole Miss kickers missed two other field goals.
Will Gleeson had a nice punt inside the 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter to give the defense a chance to hold on.
The explosive plays were fun for the offense, the missed tackles weren’t for the defense.
Then, Patterson had some fun with SEC Network sideline reporter Lauren Rutledge, saying he liked her choker, referring to her necklace.
— Tyler Aldridge (@TylerAldridge13) April 8, 2017
Hey, it was football, and it wasn’t a notice of allegations.
They’ll take it these days in Oxford.