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Ole Miss vs. LSU 2016: Rebels regress in 38-21 loss

The Rebs are 3-4 and sliding the wrong way.

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The secondary was out of position at all times. The linebackers were horrid. The offense couldn’t move the ball in the second half and Chad Kelly threw a pair of terrible interceptions. Things couldn’t have gone much worse during Ole Miss’ 38-21 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge on Saturday night.

The defensive front was manhandled from the get-go—Leonard Fournette romped for an absurd 284 yards and three touchdowns on just 16 carries. LSU slammed the edges, taking advantage of the Rebels’ horrid linebacker situation and inexperienced safeties to average 8.6 yard per carry as a team.

Still, LSU’s two fumbles and an interception gave Ole Miss a chance to hang in. But the offense completely crumpled after scoring 21 points in the first half. The Rebels’ second-half drive chart looked like this:

  • punt
  • punt
  • punt
  • interception
  • punt
  • punt

Kelly had his worst game of the season, going 20-for-33 for just 218 yards and one touchdown. He threw two picks and had another terrible decision bonk off the helmet of an LSU defender. Granted, his protection was bad, particularly after freshman Greg Little replaced an injured Rod Taylor in the second half. Little gave up two sacks in three plays, which is as many sacks as Laremy Tunsil gave up in his entire career.

The offensive line is still a mess. It’s time to stop saying that’s a result of something other than coaching. That argument holds water in games like this, honestly. It does not hold water in games against Memphis or Wofford.

Honestly, this entire season is a product of awful offensive production in the second half of games, bad defensive hires, and terrible defensive recruiting. If the assistant coaches are going to be bad at, like, coaching, maybe they can be good at, like, recruiting. Instead, Ole Miss has taken the unorthodox approach of landing defensive coaches who are both bad at coaching their positions AND bad at recruiting their side of the team.

Quick. Name a quality linebacker this staff has successfully recruited in four seasons who is not named Demarquis Gates. Now name the starting defensive ends next season.

It’s frustrating to see how far behind the Rebel defenders are. Two years ago, they were the No. 1 scoring D in the country. How did the defense get so bad so quickly? Did Dave Wommack simply forget how to coach football? Was Tom Allen more important than we thought?

With Auburn (which beat Arkansas by 53 points on Saturday) and one-loss A&M still on the schedule, this is beginning to realistically look like a six-win season for Ole Miss.

There are certainly some bright spots on the team, and many of those bright spots return next season. But this wasn’t supposed to be a season about building for the future. It was supposed to be a season in which Ole Miss tried to capitalize on having the SEC’s best quarterback. Instead, the Rebels have been beaten at the position by a pair of freshmen, Austin Allen, and a guy who lost the quarterback job at PURDUE.