It’s foolish to describe Ole Miss’ 2017 season as a disappointment. Enough offseason turmoil resulting in the installation of Matt Luke as interim coach rendered Rebel football’s collective floor in 2017 as sitting somewhere between whale shit and the bottom of the ocean. Expectations were low, let’s say.
The final 6-6 record in 2017 was a full game’s worth of improvement over the previous season under Hugh Freeze, when the team went 5-7 and failed to reach a bowl game. The one-game difference, there? The Egg Bowl, which was wild and just as spunky as we’d all expected.
For all of its off-field drama, Ole Miss football in 2017 produced fireworks in fairly consistent fashion. Five canonical, nay, indicative moments stand out, and they deserve individual consideration. From A.J. Brown obliterating helpless defenders to D.K. Metcalf peeing in the end zone in Starkville, here are our five favorite moments from last season.
5. A.J. Brown Eurostepped two defenders into Hades in consecutive weeks.
We’ve sodded this turf before, but it’s never not enjoyable to remember those plays in which Starkville Mayor A.J. Brown sent defenders sliding in hilarious ways. Here’s the one against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Want some deja vu? Here’s some deja vu, with an added TAMU spice.
I screamed out loud when Brown tic-tac-toed his way past that man and into the end zone. It was a thing of beauty.
4. Jordan Ta’amu breaks out against Arkansas.
Hear us out. Yes, terrible defense and a late fumble blew a 24-point lead at home. But it was also the first start of the Ta’amu era and served notice that there would be no drop-off from Shea Patterson, the five-star superstar who’d suffered a season-ending knee injury the week prior.
Ta’amu’s performance, particularly in the first half, was brilliant: 20-of-30 for 368 yards through the air and another 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground. He was poised, accurate and elusive.
That’s a lot of offense accounted for, and it served as a preview for what was to come. He’d go on to play as one of the country’s statistically best dual threat QBs for the rest of the season, and his ceiling in 2018 can only sprout up. Patterson’s offseason defection to Michigan could have left the Ole Miss program in serious trouble. Ta’amu’s breakout against the Hogs showed us he could take the reins.
3. Breeland Speaks becomes a meme.
Speaks was picked in the second round by the Kansas City Chiefs in this year’s NFL Draft. That though came some months after he recovered a timely fumble midway through the 2017 Egg Bowl and found himself square in the lens of ESPN’s sideline camera. Then he offered up a coy celebration.
Breeland Speaks recovered a fumble, and says “hi.” pic.twitter.com/Ee4i7Pb0wM— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 24, 2017
In fact, Breeland later revealed, he was waving to Dan Mullen.
“I got your football,” he told AL.com. “I couldn’t have picked a better way to finish [my college career]. Going viral, probably that’s something I’ve never really thought of. Come back to my phone and you got ESPN got you on their Instagram page, everybody got you on their Instagram page. It was just crazy.”
2. D.K. Metcalf’s ridiculous TD grab beats Kentucky.
With nine seconds left on the clock in Lexington, Ole Miss trailed 34-30. A dramatic second-half rally had been ruined by a late Kentucky touchdown, putting the Rebels on the brink of a third consecutive loss.
Then Metcalf happened.
“Jordan put it on the money,” Metcalf, who also had a 58-yard touchdown at the end of the third quarter, told ESPN. “It was just up to me to turn around and make the play.”
1. D.K. Metcalf peed on That End Zone Down South (#TEZDS, pronounced “Ted’s”).
Sure it earned an unsportsmanlike penalty, but c’mon, this is awesome.
Find a time you’ve ever laughed harder at an event in the history of Ole Miss sports. Didn’t think so.