Houston Nutt, after leading* the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 50-14 defeat at the hands of the USC Trojans in 2006, notoriously proclaimed, undeniably with some wild gesticulation, that those Trojans "score so fast [that] it messes you up."
Yesterday, we learned exactly what being "messed up" by quick scoring looks and feels like. The Rebels had absolutely no answer whatsoever to the offensive firepower put out by the Texas Longhorns, who cruised to a 66-31 victory in front of a raucous sell out Vaught-Hemingway Crowd. Texas had an eye-popping 676 total yards of offense, with 350 of those from the ground game with the remaining 326 coming through the air.
There's no need to elaborate further. The Rebs simply could not stop the Longhorns, plain and simple. It was bad. It was embarrassing, even. But I'm frankly not all that bothered by it. We've got a long row to hoe, something which I am willing to accept and endure if it means better results in the future.
Also, we're a bit accustomed to embarrassment around these parts.
There were some positives to take away from the game.
The first and obvious positive is Donte Moncrief being one of the SEC's best receivers. Juco and I were discussing the game on our drive from Oxford to Jackson earlier today and we've concluded that Moncrief is likely to shatter Shay Hodge's Ole Miss receiving records. He's basically Shay with more speed. He's got sure hands and uses his body well to position himself to make the catch.
Bo Wallace is a good quarterback. Yes, he had some really, really bad moments yesterday. He's a sophomore playing his third ever game at this level, so he's bound to have some jitters. Couple that with the Texas pass rush led by Jackson Jeffcoat, and Wallace was bound to struggle. Still, I thought that given the circumstances he played better than serviceably at worst.
Jeff Scott and Randall Mackey can move the football really well. I'm happy to have both of them in the backfield. I also like that we most likely will have Jeff Scott for one more year at Ole Miss.
Again, I know that nobody aside from Moncrief had a particularly great outing, but they were fighting an uphill battle all night. They simply were not going to look as great as they did against UTEP or UCA. This was especially true for the Rebel offensive line, which was downright abused by the Texas pass rush. Naturally, this is worrisome with an SEC schedule coming around the corner, but it is what it is. We're too young, too inexperienced, and too thin on the line. Against much superior talent, that's a mismatch that can't really be schemed away.
Needless to say that, on defense, we were just absolutely helpless. We could not get any pressure on David Ash (he was not sacked once), we were blocked out of so many well ran plays, and the defensive backs simply could not hang with the Longhorns receivers. There is literally nothing positive to take away from that defensive performance. Nothing. And I suspect that this will be a bit of a running theme this season. Say what you will about Dave Wommack's coaching - there are legitimate concerns and criticisms to be had - but what I think this really boils down to is a severe dearth of defensive talent.
There are young players who are promising, skilled, and athletic. CJ Johnson, Channing Ward, Issac Gross, Denzel Nkemdiche and Cody Prewitt have all shown glimpses of potential, but being just freshmen or sophomores, they're still not ready, physically or mentally, to succeed in their roles at this level.
Overall, though, this defensive unit is undersized, young, and thin. The only thing that can remedy that is literally a couple of years of recruiting and developing the best players we can. Because of this, I am willing to be patient and forgiving of performances like last night's, but that doesn't mean I have to like it, dammit.
The weekend, as we all already know, was a blast. The Texas fans we encountered over the past few days were a generally amicable and enjoyable lot. Of course they love their Longhorns, and aren't afraid to show it, but they seemed to really enjoy Oxford, the Grove, and everything else involved in a complete Ole Miss football weekend. If their football team was, you know, worse at football, I wouldn't be opposed to playing them more often, assuming that the novelty of a Texas v. Ole Miss matchup could somehow stay fresh in the minds of both fan bases.
Let's see, what else? Oh, UPD were in rare form this weekend, belligerently handcuffing a guy watching the band warm up, only to realize that he hadn't really committed a crime before letting him go. They also dumped a friend's entire cooler out because it's contents - bottled water and a lone bottle of Abita - was deemed contraband. Bevo is gigantic - as in the size of a small pickup truck - and did not drop a doodoo on the field which was a relief to whatever poor soul is in charge of cleaning the turf surface at the Vaught. The hushpuppies at Old Taylor are better than I remembered. I'm very hoarse. This guy is a volatile combination of bravery and outright stupidity. This guy needs to coach our defense. And Sonic for breakfast after a night like last night is a bad, bad choice.
Hotty Toddy y'all. Get some rest.
*A term used loosely in this context, of course.