Since so many players from 2012 return for the 2013 season, we feel that a look at some of the more memorable plays from last season is a fair way to preview the upcoming one. So, in no particular order, here are ten such plays. (Please forgive any music or odd sound from the videos. These are mostly TubeChops from highlight reels, so disjointed sound is to be expected.)
Jeff Scott's roll over touchdown
Remember when Michael Dyer did this against Oregon in the BCSNCG a few years ago? That was neat.
Give Jeff Scott all the credit for this play. It was third and long and the Rebs were up by just a score late in the game. Bo hit Scott on a curl route over the middle nearly ten yards shy of the first. Jeff was tackled by an Auburn defender but wasn't actually brought to the ground. Instead his butt just sorta bounced off of the guy's chest and, being a 5'7" ball of sinew and fast twitch muscles, he burst right into action and scampered into the endzone unscathed. Excellent work by Scott to play until the whistle and to break open an uncomfortably close ballgame.
Trae Elston doing something that would get him ejected this season
This is maybe a slightly forgotten hit, but it was my favorite of the season. Dennis Johnson, who is now playing for the Texans, thinks he might get out of bounds without having too much damage done to him. Then Trae Elston happens. Elston is going to draw some frustrating penalties, but when he does lay the wood, it's beautiful.
Jaylen Walton's wheel route
EveryDayShouldBeSaturday wrote a post in January about the wheel route's effectiveness (Hyah!). The whole thing is wonderful, but here's a pertinent quote.
We deal in facts, and the most relevant fact in the world is this: the wheel route is the greatest route in the history of football, and works every time, all the time, against any coverage ever.
Mike Price, who was coaching at UTEP before being fired at the end of last season, apparently didn't get the memo. After the game, Price made a comment that Ole Miss had essentially cheated since the team hadn't run wheel routes to running backs in their first game and therefore produced no tape on how to stop it (no joke). YOU CAN'T STOP IT, MIKE. IT'S A WHEEL ROUTE. Also, one would think that coaches, like, you know, add new plays to the playbook as the season goes along and stuff. I dunno though, just guessing.
But seriously, this was a nice play because it was the first moment in the season that made me say, "hm.... maybe we aren't going to be that bad." It was a well executed offensive play where a true freshman halfback found himself wide open and our quarterback, being well protected against the rush, made a perfect pass for the score. It was actually good football, something which had become somewhat foreign to us.
Cody Prewitt's decleater against Alabama
This was arguably the biggest hit of Ole Miss' season. It was early in the game and set the tone for the defense for the remainder of the contest. The Rebels wouldn't beat Alabama that night in Tuscaloosa, but they put up a hell of a fight, holding the BCS National Championship-winning Crimson Tide to their lowest offensive output of the season. It was this game where we really began to see the difference between a Hugh Freeze coached team and those of his predecessor; these guys played hard, recklessly, and well above their talent level. Even though the final score was 33-14, the Rebs made us proud and showed us how far they had come from 2011.
Randall Mackey throws a touchdown to Bo Wallace
Let me set the stage for you. The score is tied 0-0 between Ole Miss and Auburn. Ole Miss has not won an SEC game in roughly 6 billion straight attempts. The Rebels were driving. In a third and five situation, the Tigers saw something they didn't like and called a timeout, but the Rebels were already in the swing of things when the refs blew the whistle. This was pivotal. Auburn saw that the playcall was a toss to Randall Mackey in the flats. Ole Miss converted the third down try with a read-option look from Wallace then later set up this play on that same drive. Auburn had therefore already seen what they thought the play would be. When the Rebels went back to it, the Auburn defenders all bit on the toss, thinking they had this one stopped. When Jermaine Whitehead, who had spurned the Rebels on signing day just a few short years earlier (WE NEVER FORGET, JERMAINE), finally realized that he was way out of position, it was too late. The ball floated over his head into the hands of Bo Wallace, who scampered into the endzone for a score. This play helped get things started in a game that was pivotal to this season's successes.
Bo Wallace's touchdown scamper against LSU
The play before this was exactly the same, except Barkevious Mingo stood off of the line to contain Wallace. This meant that, in the read option, Wallace handed it to Jeff Scott to squeezed through the left side of the line for a decent gain. On this play, being identical to it's predecessor, Mingo bit inside and crashed the line to stop the run. The LSU linebackers also trended that direction. This meant that Wallace got to keep the ball and run it himself. With the linebackers out of position he was able to get the first down and break into the secondary, and with the safety missing his tackle Bo was gone. This play demonstrates just how effective the read option can be when you have a quarterback like Bo Wallace who isn't afraid to run.
Moncrief's catch on a free play against LSU
This play might not be all that eye-popping, but it shows an awareness and football IQ out of our offense that spells good things for the future. Barkevious Mingo jumped the gun on this play and was caught offsides. Wallace and Moncrief knew they had a free play, so Bo threw one up for the endzone. Moncrief came down with it in double coverage for the score. It was a damn good throw and a damn good catch, which resulted from quick and effective decision making on the field.
Charles Sawyer blocks a punt against Arkansas
The week after beating Auburn, the Rebels traveled to Arkansas. The Razorbacks weren't a good team last season, but they seemed to get up for this game, perhaps looking at it as a potential victory. They jumped out a 10-0 lead, but the Rebels fought back. The tide was turning back and forth for much of the game, with each team fighting for momentum. Charles Sawyer though did his best to keep the momentum swaying for the Rebs. He had a huge touchdown-stealing interception and this fantastic blocked punt that afternoon. Notice if you will that Sawyer isn't so much blocked on this play. He gets by the first line of defense with a player trying to block him into the second wall. No one from that second line even tries to touch him, and it costs them. After the block and scoop gave the Rebs good field position, Barry Brunetti would run it in for a touchdown a few plays later, giving the Rebels a 14-10 lead. The game was a back and forth contest, ultimately decided by a Bryson Rose field goal as time expired. Things may have been very different had Sawyer not gotten two hands on this punt.
Mike Marry violates a Pitt halfback
Nasty, nasty hit. Obviously, the Rebels were winning this one regardless, but wow. What a hit. I will contend that being clobbered like this is one of the things that caused Russel (sic) Shell to transfer from Pitt when the season was over. That and the thought of what has become an annual trip to the Compass Bowl - an event at which we Rebs had fun but certainly hope to never return. Obviously, it wasn't as violent or on as big a stage, but this obliteration is reminiscent of the Jadaveon Clowney mauling of Michigan's backfield. Seeing it just makes you ask, "was he even blocked?"
Marry had a huge game in the Compass bowl, making big hits and forcing turnovers. He's a guy who has stuck with this program through thick and thin and who has never been any sort of academic or discipline headache. It's good to see him get his due.
The same play five times over against Pitt
This was written up in Grantland and Chris Brown of Smartfootball linked to us on this y'all we famous count dollars stack bills. This quick succession of plays - which were all literally the same play run with different iterations based on the looks the defense gave us - shows us how Hugh Freeze's offense works when it's working well. It requires fast movement, good decision making, and well-executed fundamentals. Considering this offense's performance in just year one of the Hugh Freeze experiment, and considering how many of these players this team returns for year two, I do believe it is fair to say that Hugh Freeze will have the "fundamentally sound scoring machine" he wants in Oxford sooner rather than later.
So what say you? What plays stick out to you from last year and why?