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Film Review: The Ole Miss offensive line was, shockingly, not successful

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This week, in a film review column only self-mutilators will read, we're going to look at two questionable calls by Hugh Freeze's offense. Can you guess which ones? Probably not, because there were so many.

Yes, most of the playcalling was very odd. Ole Miss ran the offensive plays of an entirely different team with entirely different personnel. When they heavily incorporated outside receivers on drives, they were dominant, marching down the field with ease. For the rest of the game's many drives, they were awful.

So how about we look at two of those! Before I begin, let me say that I'm not going to force any of you to actually rewatch a second of that game. I do, however, have some low-quality photos that are intended to help explain what happened.

The root of the problem appears to be that Hugh Freeze just doesn't accept how ineffective his offensive line is. In press conference after press conference, when asked about failed rushing attempts, Freeze continually mentions that he really liked the playcalls. These calls, apparently, simply weren't executed properly. The problem with that thinking is this: I love the idea of successfully pounding the rock up the middle as well; unfortunately the Ole Miss personnel simply don't allow that to work. Hugh Freeze, I'm sure, realizes this. So why on earth does he continue going to the well? Let's go to the tape!

4th and Short from the Memphis Sixteen

Ole Miss, leading 14-7, having just lost its best player (a defensive tackle) to a concussion while attempting to run up the middle when everyone knew that was the call, was faced with a decision. On 4th down, should they go for it, only having to pick up one yard? Should they kick it, with three points a near certainty? The coaches, whether right or wrong, decided to go for the first down. Here's the look they saw.


Pop quiz time. You see this defensive look. What do you do?

A. Run left

B. Pass to the huge outside receiver in single coverage

C. Call a timeout and kick the field goal

D. Literally anything else

E. Run a toss to the right

I'll give you a moment to tabulate your answers.

If you said, E, congratulations! You're an Ole Miss football coach! Let's see how that worked for them.

Wilkins No Line

Ouch. People can say the coaches need to recruit a big back who can break tackles all they want. Leonard Fournette himself wouldn't be able to make this playcall work. The offensive line falls to a heap in the center of the field, letting one defensive lineman through untouched. Essentially every player misses his block. Those who do not are now tasked with blocking multiple players because everyone knew where the ball was going.

So the play didn't work. Big deal, right? It's just one play. Coaches make mistakes. I understand that. But then, later in the game, with the Rebels down 17-14 with mere minutes before halftime, they faced a 4th and 1 decision again at their own 35 yard line. How would the coaches handle it this time, having seen once again that they couldn't rely on the offensive linemen to execute properly?

Surely they would punt and be alright going into the half down just three. Nope. They ran a QB dive/sneak. Here's how it worked.

4th down Memphis stuff

Notice where the first down line is. Notice where the offensive line is. They got no push whatsoever. It didn't work. Memphis took over on downs and easily scored a touchdown to take a ten point lead into the half.

So what now?

I think the most troubling thing is that I've basically written this article before and know with 100% certainty I'll have to write it again. That's what's so frustrating. This coaching staff has, all season and during most of its time in Oxford, continued to try over and over again to do something it has proven time and time again incapable of doing. I understand that there's this conventional wisdom that teams have to run between the tackles to win. If that's true, perhaps Ole Miss should make a change at some level making that more possible. To continue to do things the same way over and over again despite mountains of evidence that those things won't work, is simply asinine.

The good news is that there really is a way this offense rights itself -- a way it could be dominant -- it just has to be utilized properly. I'm not stupid enough to suggest that I could call plays. I would be so, so much worse than this coaching staff. It's just frustrating to see them pass up opportunities to succeed that this roster presents them. Maybe, just maybe, that will change. Freeze mentioned in a recent press conference that he may need to be throwing it even more. Yes. Do that.