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Ole Miss’ offense struggled in the 2nd half against Arkansas

The Rebels’ uptempo style worked against them after halftime.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After scoring 20 points in the first half against Arkansas, the Ole Miss offense managed just 10 in the second half, negating the efforts of a struggling but persistent defense that played much better after halftime. Just as Dave Wommack’s unit began making stops, Hugh Freeze and Dan Werner’s offense began to stutter.

Check out the success rates by quarter.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Overall
Ole Miss 41% 63% 28% 25% 40%
Arkansas 63% 52% 47% 33% 48%

The Rebels got the ball coming out of the locker room, and the struggles began. Their drives in the second half looked like this:

  • Interception
  • Three and out
  • Field goal
  • Three and out
  • Touchdown
  • Three and out
  • Fumble

The Rebels turned the ball over or went three and out on five of their second-half possessions, which left the defense on the field for long stretches. Arkansas had the ball for over 40 of the game's 60 minutes, and asking this banged-up, inexperienced defense to hold out for that long is asking for too much. Sure, the Rebel defense played a much better second half, but the toll was evident on the Razorbacks' 10-play, go-ahead drive in the final minutes.

In the first half, we saw the benefits of Freeze’s high-tempo offense, especially on Ole Miss’ final drive of the half: Akeem Judd ran for 6 yards, then Chad Kelly hit Evan Engram on back-to-back plays for 19 and 35 yards, Quincy Adeboyejo hauled one in for 22 yards, and then Kelly ran it in on first and goal. The drive went 90 yards and took just 50 seconds. The Razorback defense was gassed and confused, leading to a blown coverage on Engram’s 35-yard catch.

In the second half, we saw the drawbacks of playing up-tempo: if the offense isn’t clicking, it will be back on the sidelines in a hurry, forcing a tired defense back on the field. It can be hard for your quarterback to find a rhythm if he’s only on the field for three plays at a time and then is sitting on the bench for four to five minutes as the other team scores. Damore’ea Stringfellow, the team’s best receiver, made just one catch and was targeted just three times by Kelly in the second half. Ole Miss’ failure to execute their plan on offense played right into the Razorbacks’ hands. Arkansas’ offense is built on ball control and the running game opening up plays down the field, and they got it done.