A long day spent either on the road or socializing with old friends has me, well over 24 hours removed from the Rebels dominating performance in the 2013 BBVA Compass Bowl, just now getting to some sort of recap of the goings on.
Thankfully the Jackson airport offers free and somewhat speedy Wifi - hey, if there's one thing about travelling to or from Jackson that the "City with Soul" does right, it's the airport with its virtual lack of a TSA presence and odors of fried dough.
Thankfully, inadvertently picking up for my slack and relieving me of some of my exhaustion, my SB Nation colleagues have done a fantastic job of recapping the Rebel victory as well as looking at what this bowl win could mean for the future of our program. Give their stuff a look if you haven't already.
My thoughts, having fallen victim to sleep deprivation and an ungodly number of calories' worth of greasy food and cheap beer, will not nearly be as organized and cogent as those of the aforelinked (I'm no Bill Connelly, alright). Considering that, forgive my poor attempts at sustained prose and, instead, digest the following bullet points regarding the game, the weekend, and the state of the Rebel football program. Think of it as a very, very bad hybrid between Faulkner's stream of consciousness and VH1's Pop-Up Video.
And, as always, don't be shy. Contribute anything you'd like in the comments section below. Once we crowdsource this one enough, I think we'll all be able to get a nice top-down look at the Ole Miss fan base's attitudes moving forward.
- Bo Wallace is a good quarterback. He makes some really bad decisions sometimes, or at least it seems to me that he just likes to think "to hell with it" and fling it in the general direction of a receiver at times, but he has the arm strength, attitude, and understanding of Hugh Freeze's HUNH offense to be a great one. I think that, assuming he stays healthy and continues to produce, that he'll finish his career at Ole Miss as one of the program's most celebrated signal callers. Rumors have it that he will soon undergo some sort of surgery to fix whatever it is in his throwing shoulder that bugged him for the second half of the season, so keep your fingers crossed that everything there goes well.
- It was really exciting to see Jaylon Walton and iTavius Mathers step up when Jeff Scott left the field with a hamstring (right?) injury. I was worried that Mathers was being lost in the shuffle this year, but if spring ball goes well for him, he and Jeff Scott could be a formidable rushing attack, with Walton and maybe even Mark Dodson coming off of the bench situationally.
Basically, we have options at halfback for next season, which is nice.
- Also stepping up were Ja-Mes Logan (who, and this may surprise you, caught his first and only touchdown pass for the season on Saturday), Vincent Sanders, Ferbia Allen, and the backs in the receiving game, with Pitt's secondary essentially forcing Donte Moncrief out of the game.
- That touchdown that Moncrief caught before the review pulled it back was indeed a touchdown. Way to blow that one, refs. That call kept Moncrief from claiming the Ole Miss record for touchdown receptions in a year.
- This means that Moncrief is now insatiably hungry. This is your only warning, America.
- I don't know how Mike Marry did it, but he was all in the Pitt backfield on Saturday. I look forward to his senior season. He is the type of leader you build a team around.
- I think Hugh Freeze called a good enough game. Pitt's defense is stout - arguably the third or fourth best defense we played all year - so that plus our turnovers meant that our offensive struggles at times weren't too surprising to me. I do wonder how much a month off from football can slow down and offense and give the opposing defense time to prepare, and posit that such is almost self-evident throughout the bowl season.
- Along those same lines, the Rebel defense was absolutely ready to stop Tino Sunseri and the Pitt offense. The Panthers only mustered 266 yards of offense on the day, turned the ball over twice, surrendered four sacks, and generally struggled to make the plays necessary to win. Give Dave Wommack credit (did you think you'd ever hear me say that?), because he's put the pieces in place and coached them up pretty well.
- While this team did not have a lot of seniors, and while few of them were starters, we will miss this graduating class. Gilbert Peña, Jason Jones, Randall Mackey, E.J. Epperson, and others were excellent players towards the latter half of the season, even if situationally. I do worry about replacing Randall Mackey's production as a sort of "utility" guy. I also hate that we're losing Gilbert Peña's 320-something pound presence on the defensive line. Of course, I wish these guys the best.
- That being said, we return so many starters on both sides of the ball that it's almost impossible to not grow a nice thick coat of wool regarding this team's prospects in 2013 and 2014. Returning four of five starters on the offensive line, plus your leading rushers, receivers, and starting quarterback, is tremendous. Returning your leading tacklers, pass rushers, and pass defenders on defense is, arguably, even better. I don't want to elevate our expectations too high, but there is good reason to be excited.
- Uh oh, I'm about to board a flight. MORE TO COME! Stay tuned!