ED: I wrote this in two sittings. I began on Sunday afternoon because there is no way in Hell I was gonna start this on Saturday - nor would any of y'all had expected such. After being distracted long enough by the NFL, I fel asleep. I'm getting old. It's Monday morning now, two days after which is borderline unacceptable on the tardiness scale. Forgive me.
So I sit here, exhausted, somewhat ill-feeling, and relieved. The Rebels won on Saturday. It wasn't a great victory, but it was convincing, and despite the perceived inferiority of our opponent, there is a lot we can take away from such a win over the Fresno State Bulldogs. I wasn't there, nor was I 100% attentive or sober - I watched it alongside a few dozen other good Rebels at a local watering hole - so my observations are likely to be spotty and, frankly, inaccurate at times, but that's what the comments thread is for, right?
I'm going to go through this with simple bullet points. That's the best way for me to do this right now because, frankly, I'm tired and cannot glean much in the way of detail out of my meager mental bank of Saturday's memories. That's a good thing, though, because Saturday was a helluva time, underwhelming performance from the Rebel defense aside, and I won't need to endlessly bicker about where I think the coaches went wrong and the general state of dissaray that is Ole Miss Atletics.
But I probably will anyway.
Hey, RockyTopTalk, do you do something super cool for the rest of the blogosphere? Something like animated flash drive charts? You DO?!
- If the offensive success from Saturday didn't excite you, then I dunno what to do with you. The Rebels had 578 yards and 9.8 yards per play (!). The fact that we averaged nearly a first down for every snap says as much about this team's improvement from last week to this week as it does about Fresno State.
- Defensively, the Bulldogs weren't slouches coming into this game. They literally led the nation in sacks up until Saturday - our offensive line, impressively, didn't give one up - and were coming off of two good defensive performances (really, one great one and another alright one) which saw them limit their opponents to a mere 19 points a game. In their season opener against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Fresno held Brian Kelly's former squad to a paltry 15 yards rushing. Our Rebels had nearly triple the offensive output of Fresno's two previous opponents and if you're saying "well, those were weaker teams, this is how it should be," I would reply with "no shit, but would you have expected such after last week's debacle?" So my point is that we, unlike every other game we've played so far, moved the ball well against an opponent whose defense, also unlike every other game we've played except for perhaps Vanderbilt, wasn't bad.
- This bump in offensive output can be attributed to two main factors: Brandon Bolden and smarter playcalling. The former is obvious, and something which we at the Cup have been clamoring for - in conjunction with our firm anti-Inricky stance - for a few weeks now, so I think we should better focus on the latter. We already knew that Bolden is the better back and we all should, frankly, be quite upset that it took an Enrique Davis injury (get well, Inricky) to get Bolden on the field more.
- The X's and O's, though, were pretty fantastic offensively. Masoli wasn't asked to throw very much which, if the running game is dominating as well as it is, that's fine. But when he was asked to throw, he was efficient, hitting 8 of his 12 attempts for 152 yards, tossing two touchdowns and one interception (Which was a pretty terrible play, actually. I suppose, though, that you're allowed a couple of poor plays when you score 55 points anyway). That doesn't mean Masoli's role was downplayed offensively, however. The Wild Samoan reeled was 3rd on the team in rushing with 59 yards, bringing his offensive output to 211 yards.
- The rushing attack outside of Masoli was, simply, excellent. The offensive line did enough of the dirty work but the real key to our success lies in the almost ideal abilities of Brandon Bolden - who should have been getting these touches all season long, but we all know that anyway - and the speed of Jeff Scott. But not only is it that, but a lot of Saturday's success had to do with great play calling. Jeff Scott was bumped to the outside where he is dangerous in space. Bolden was sent off tackle and out of read option on plays where as much relied on the OL as Bolden. The running game against Fresno contrasted starkly against the gameplan against Vanderbilt. Against Vandy, we were playing into our own weaknesses, giving Inricky the ball up the gut behind our - let me be diplomatic here - underachieving offensive line. Against Fresno, we put our speedy, agile guys in space and let them just burn ass down the field.
- Jeff Scott... He's fast. Like way fast.
- Brandon Bolden. Again, Coach Nutt and anyone else who thinks Inricky should be getting the ball, stop thinking that way. Kthx. He had 243 total yards and three touchdowns. Case closed.
- Naturally, the defense give me great cause for concern. Typically, if you give up 38 points, you're going to lose. I know that the coaches took off the gas after the 41-10 lead and I know a lot of true freshmen and sophomores got tossed in there late to play mop-up, but if we cannot last defensively for four full quarters, then we're going to lose to every SEC team we play. Against the rush, the team was quite good, as there were lots of goofy fin gestures to go about after tackles behind the line of scrimmage. After only allowing 30 yards rushing, though, our defense has little to brag about. The fumble recovery by Charles Sawyer was pretty fantastic, but we still have nary an interception (the only team in the conference for which that applies, and it's not even close) and have the worst pass effeciency defense in the conference - after playing Jacksonville State, Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Fresno State. If something doesn't change right away, we're going to have the absolute shit beaten out of us by anybody fielding a marginal passing attack. Our zones have gigantic gaps in them, our pressure on the quarterback is wildly inconsistent, and our linebackers and defensive backs take far too long to adjust, react, and make decisions.
- The crowd was apparently rowdy. If so, well done. I wouldn't expect the same this weekend with another bullshit 11:20 kickoff, but if y'all can put even a modicum of further effort into your cheerin' on Saturday, I'm sure the players would appreciate it.
Alright, there's a lot more I could write. But I worry that I'm just droning on and repeating myself. Comments thread. Go!