Detric Bing-Dukes might be the answer at middle linebacker.
Oregon State grad transfer Rommel Mageo was supposed to be the answer in the middle, but mental mistakes have kept him from taking over the job.
“I got sick of us not fitting runs right and said ‘I’m not doing it another game,’” a perturbed Freeze exclaimed over the weekend. “‘I don’t care who it is, it’s gonna be somebody different and we’re going to work on fitting the dern run.’”
So Freeze started Bing-Dukes, a JUCO transfer, who turned in an impressive seven tackles on a day in which the Rebel defense didn’t allow a single explosive run to Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the loaded UGA backfield. That may have changed the equation at linebacker, where Dave Wommack was too often having to play DeMarquis Gates out of position in the middle.
"I think we've pretty much made the decision that we are better off with Gates at stinger, [Terry] Caldwell at stinger and Bing-Dukes, Mageo and Willie [Hibbler] at Mike linebacker,” Freeze said on Monday. “That could change from week to week, but that's what we felt like was our best answer last week.”
Freshman running back D’Vaughn Pennamon is impressing.
Pennamon, a four-star out of Texas who came damn close to flipping to Bama on Signing Day, was scheduled for a redshirt year before Jordan Wilkins and Eric Swinney were dropped by academics and injury, respectively. After running just seven times for 16 yards (2.3 yards per carry) against Wofford and Alabama, Pennamon impressed with 37 yards and a touchdown on six carries (6.7 yards per carry) against UGA.
"He had a good game Saturday,” Freeze said. “We felt like he ran physical, ran downhill, finished runs, and looked for contact. I was impressed with the way he ran and it will certainly earn him some more snaps."
The best thing Pennamon did? Proved that the laws of the physical universe still allow for Ole Miss to score a goal-line touchdown by running it up the middle.
Would ya look at that? An honest to God push on the goal line. The run blocking from the O-line was by far the best we’ve seen this season—after averaging 3.3 yards per carry and 2.7 line yards per carry against Nick Saban’s bunch, the offense cranked out 7.2 yards per carry and 3.5 line yards per carry against the Dawgs.
Carlos Davis and Montrell Custis should be “back and ready to play” against Memphis.
Not that either of them have been particularly impressive (especially Davis, who’s been torched on several occasions since Ken Webster went down), but Ole Miss can’t afford any more losses in the secondary.
Blowing leads is a no, for the Bible tells me so.
All I talked to them about at halftime was just finish the job... We have a character trait deal we do every week and last week was about a guy named Benaiah which is a great story, but he finished the job and he didn't climb out halfway through it, he finished it and that was really all we talked about at half was just finishing the job.
While I’m sure a Bible verse about a guy who fought a lion in a pit is motivational and all, the real reason behind the Rebels’ improved ability to not blow three-touchdown leads was 1) efficiency on the ground and 2) ball security. It was backbreaking Chad Kelly turnovers that opened the door for both Florida State and Bama, and that’s what Ole Miss avoided on Saturday.
Said Freeze: “It was our best complete game thus far and we did nothing to give up momentum which I think happened in the two losses we have had, due to turnovers, which I was pleased to see.”