Last night's game saw Ole Miss winning a lot of position matchups, but no comparison sticks out more than that of the Ole Miss defensive line and Mississippi State offensive line. The Rebels lived in the Bulldog backfield all night, totaling 7 sacks and constantly disrupting Mississippi State's rhythm.
The most interesting takeaway for me, in reviewing the stats from last night, is that the sacks were spread around all over the roster. DT Robert Nkemdiche led the way with 1.5, and DTs DJ Jones, Woodrow Hamilton, and Breeland Speaks each had one. At defensive end, Marquis Haynes and Channing Ward each dropped Dak Prescott as well. Linebacker CJ Johnson had a half sack as the only non-lineman to get in on the action.
When Mississippi State had cut the lead to just 18 and got the ball back with 2:45 left in the third quarter, Robert Nkemdiche and company ensured State wouldn't be doing anything on that drive. On first and ten, Nkemdiche had a solo sack, dropping Prescott six yards behind the line of scrimmage. On second and sixteen, Prescott scrambled for an eight yard gain. With Mississippi State really needing to make something happen on third and eight in order to have any hope of climbing back into the game, this happened.
Robert Nkemdiche and CJ Johnson split a sack, hitting Prescott eleven yards behind the line of scrimmage. Mississippi State would go on to punt, and the next Ole Miss drive would end with a 38 yard touchdown run by Jordan Wilkins. At that point, any hope Mississippi State had managed to maintain was dashed. They would ultimately get the score closer, but it didn't matter.
But it was more than just the sacks. DJ Jones had five tackles at DT and was all over the field. Robert Nkemdiche had four tackles of his own and lived in State's backfield. The success of the defensive line also allowed players like linebacker Demarquis Gates to easily make plays without having to worry about extra blockers getting to the second level and making a difference.
This unit will take its share of losses to graduation and the draft, but there's a healthy core returning next season. But that doesn't matter right now. Now is the time to just enjoy watching this group wrecking folks.