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Ole Miss beat South Alabama, but the Rebs have work to do in the secondary

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That defense looked BAD in the second quarter.

NCAA Football: South Alabama at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

So Ole Miss is through the South Alabama gauntlet and didn’t get upset like a bunch of losers. Joy.

Ole Miss’ defense still played like trash for long gamuts. They couldn’t tackle for large stretches of an otherwise pedestrian college football contest. South Alabama ate up the second quarter with a drive that lasted nine minutes and 40 seconds. The Rebs blew coverage, then found coverage, then blew it again. They looked great early then shattered into hair-raising soft butter. God they were bad. They were also kind of good.

We knew this was going to be the case, so maybe such a strident headline isn’t necessary here. Maybe it is. Whatever.

A 20-point win ain’t all that bad. Especially not over a fairly decent mid-major that likes to stab Power-5 teams into annoyance. But these Rebs won, and they did so on the strength of Shea Patterson’s arm and his very real receivers. Seriously, these guys are good, and all of them should be your new favorite players.

But the thing is ... Ole Miss should’ve won by way more — at least if the Rebs want to make any sort of statement this year, whatever statement that may be. Or at least they shouldn’t have allowed 27 points to the University of South Alabama football team. That’s three touchdowns and some field goals besides. Ole Miss’ football season doesn’t mean shit this year, but giving up 27 points to South Alabama doesn’t scan well. Not for anybody involved.

And more: there’s no way this sort of performance figures in Tuscaloosa, to say nothing of any other SEC town. That’s worrisome. Okay, fine, Ole Miss allowed just 191 total yards to the Jags for 4.2 yards per play, excluding garbage time. Still, they allowed USA to find the end zone thrice. The defense fell completely asleep in the second quarter. Did we mention that the Jags had the ball for a 9:40 possession?

Really what’s our issue here is the secondary. The Jags ripped off a 42 percent efficiency rate on rushing plays, due in large part to their success in the second level, to say nothing of the defensive line’s struggles at times. They had three explosive rushing plays to Ole Miss’ one outside of garbage time, which began sometime late in the third quarter. Further, USA was 9-of-13 passing on standard downs, which really makes one question what’s going on out there on the backend and boundary.

It of course has yet to be seen whether these kinks will work themselves out. UT-Martin is up next, so at least they have another assumed cupcake to rub up against and adjust. Cal is two weeks away, then Alabama after that. The schedule does not let up from there.

We’re fully into it.