So, last night, Whiskey Wednesday, Juco and I spent a half-ish hour talking about the Rebels' 25-17 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the 2013 Music City Bowl. Then something went wrong with our computers or the TalkShoe service, or maybe we're just idiots. So we have no audio to present to you for this edition of Red Cup Reacts. Sorry.
We do, however, have our collaborative efforts to piece together our thoughts from last night! Where TalkShoe fails, Google Docs comes through! All hail our Google overlords! So without further ado, here's our collective reaction to yesterday's Music City Bowl victory:
And we improved on last season's win total! Horray, 2013!
GA Tech's initial drive
At first, the Yellow Jackets were blocking very well, and making all the plays to gash the Rebel D. We honestly thought we were in for a long, long game after that first drive, particularly when they converted that early 3rd-and-long play. After that, though, they were put into a lot of bad down-and-distance situations that they couldn't take advantage of. The Rebel D adjusted to whatever it was that they saw in that first drive, and mostly shut the Bees down from there on out.
Robert Nkemdiche, DT Shackelford, Serderius Bryant
Nkemdiche made a big difference when he came in. He had a constant push on the offensive line and got off the ball so quickly. DT was also as disruptive as he has ever been. He constantly flushed the quarterback (only crediting him with 2 QB hurries is silly). Bird was Bird, just flying around and knocking the shit out of guys. There was a marked difference from the second quarter on. After the first quarter was over, players started swarming to the flats on option runs and often outnumbered the offense, forcing attempts by Tech's runners to turn back around and get tackled by players who were pursuing them. It was a phenomenal effort.
Calling this game a redemption for Bo Wallace is almost an understatement. Not only did Wallace play very well, he did so while obviously limited in what his arm was able to do. Despite a weakened arm (and probably some pain), Bo manufactured drives, even some respectable ones that didn't end up resulting in points. Whether it was a conscious decision by him or by Freeze, Bo re-emerged as an aggressive runner at times, and it paid off in the form of two long rushing scores. Headed into the offseason, questions about Wallace remain, and maybe rightly so. It shouldn't be an immediate given that Bo retains his starting job if he's not healthy and there is a better option on the bench (which isn't likely, we know). However, if he can rehab his arm back to its full potential, and maintain the conservative mindset that helped him limit his interceptions in 2013, we'll have an incredible quarterback leading the way next year.
Donte Moncrief's probable last game
He had a fumble, and we don't think he leveraged his body as well to make some catches (then again, Bo Wallace was underthrowing almost everything), but he played well. 100+ yards and a score as your last game in an Ole Miss uniform ain't a bad note to end on. We wish he wasn't going pro, and we're not 100% sure he is yet, but all signs point that direction. We wish him well, or whatever.
The Offensive Line
We were all very concerned about what the offensive line would do after losing Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson to injury on a line that already lacked depth. Amazingly, the offensive line really showed up, and Georgia Tech's #9 ranked rush defense had no answer. It's not as if the Rebels ran rampant all over Tech, but when they needed a few tough yards, they often got them. Also, when plays broke down, Bo Wallace found holes in the front seven and picked up big chunks on the ground.
Finishing the year with momentum
It became more and more apparent over time that winning the bowl game was pivotal to whether fans would consider the season a success. When Juco asked in a Tuesday Question what value 1-10 our readers put on winning the bowl game, a huge majority said 10 (or 11). Hugh Freeze had let the momentum slip a bit by losing the Egg Bowl, but it seems that all is well among the Rebel faithful right now. Winning the bowl game cured many ills and has people ready for the next step in every offseason...
Potential recruiting class
RECRUITING! Yay! It's that time of year again! A time of year where everyone can pin their hopes on the number of stars a player has next to their names on a website (We're guilty too). It looks like this class is working out pretty well, as they fill some major needs with players who are highly sought. Rod Taylor has a chance to come in and win a starting gaurd spot as a true freshman. Fohn Cooper is the favorite to win the right tackle position as a juco transfer. Receivers, tight ends, and a host of defensive players are also likely to see significant playing time. While the class isn't likely to finish as highly ranked as last year's, it is still a major step forward for the program.