If you were paying attention Wednesday night and not mindlessly scrolling through your streaming service of choice*, you enjoyed Zach Berry and Grayson Weir spending part of the evening with Bo Wallace, as the trio rewatched the 2014 Egg Bowl. If you were engaged in said mindless scrolling, you can correct your mistake by clicking that link and watching the former Ole Miss great share his insights about the game.
*As Grayson preaches, NO FREE ADS.
In the third quarter of the commentary, Bo* said he was surprised Mississippi State didn’t crank up the pass rush, considering his right ankle was far less than 100 percent due to a gross injury he suffered against Arkansas the previous week. He went as far to say that, had State been more aggressive in their pass rush, he wasn’t sure he would’ve been able to finish the game, because it was so difficult for him to move.
*I’ll be calling him “Bo” or “Dr. Bo” because I am a fanboy and do not write for a FANCY PANTS newspaper with a writer’s handbook.
Those were interesting comments and made me curious as to how he played against four-man pass rushes versus pressures of five or more. To crunch the numbers on his performance, I re-watched all of Ole Miss’ offensive possessions, which means in a span of 24 hours-ish, I watched the 2014 Egg Bowl 1.5 times, which is a very normal thing we all do (plz send help).
If you recall, Bo’s passing stats were not great, as he went 13-for-30 for 296 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. However, he did average 9.9 yards per pass attempt because he made some great throws to hit big gains, most notably to Evan Engram, who caught five passes for 176 yards.
Let’s take a look at two of those long throws, but first, the aforementioned bum ankle.
On Ole Miss’ second possession, Bo completed a 46-yard pass to Engram to set up a one-yard touchdown run by himself a play later. The long completion was set up by getting Engram matched up against a linebacker and Dr. Bo delivering a strike.
Here’s the match-up Ole Miss wants.
To get Engram in solo coverage against a linebacker, running back Jaylen Walton goes in motion to clear out the other linebacker, and Vince Sanders on the outside runs a vertical route to give the safety some eye candy.
The result? Things we love to see.
Bo puts it on the money in that large rectangle of space, and Ole Miss is on the way to a 7-0 lead. Also, in case you were worried, the State safety was not swallowed by the SEC logo. Here he is out of position and falling down, hoping his scream of NOOOOOOOOO is enough to stop Engram.
Because this game was such a nice win for Ole Miss, we forget that the first half, which ended with the Rebels up 7-3, was one of the all-time great crap halves of football.
Huge Ed Orgeron versus Sylvester Croom energy.
More importantly, here’s what it looks like when your future self passes the word to your present self that it’ll be three more years before you get out of Starkville.
I’d also like to point out what would’ve happened if Dr. Bo was forced to leave the game. Not sure I could’ve survived a steady diet of things like the Treadwell pass play featuring DeVante Kincade.
WHY DO YOU HATE US, HUGH????
Anyway, Bo’s longest pass of the day went for 83 yards, which was a combination of Engram running a turn-a-defensive-back-around route and the good doctor putting the ball in Engram’s hands, without him having to break stride.
Ole Miss ran a version of this play against Alabama earlier in the year, but instead of Engram running a corner route to the sideline, he broke back inside.
Once again, Engram is able to get isolated on a defender because of that sweet misdirection eye candy. Bo fakes a hand off to I’Tavius Mathers, and guard Justin Bell pulls to give the look of a running play, which holds the State safety or linebacker on the edge because he’s thinking run.
What happens when Engram gets that one-on-one match up with a defensive back who probably remembers the Alabama play?
Yes, hello, coach with a laser pointer and the ability to play, rewind, play, and rewind the film an endless cycle while fuming about a mistake? I have some new material for you.
You’ll notice both of those throws were against four-man pass rushes, which brings us back to Bo saying that State didn’t attempt to pressure him at a high rate. Bo’s recollection is correct, as State rushed four or fewer on 21 of his 32 drop backs.
What’s interesting is that Bo’s stats against a four-man rush were what we in the biz like to call NOT GREAT, BOB (granted, there were a number of drops and one instance of two receivers who somehow managed to trip each other). He was 6-for-19 for 187 yards, but he got huge chunk plays out of his six completions, which helped make up for the inefficiency.
It also means in the 11 times he saw five or more guys coming at him (usually just five), he was 7-for-11 for 109 yards and had five completions of double-digit yardage, with long of 30. That’s what we in the biz like to call COOKIN’ ‘EM.
State’s initial plan may have called for a higher pressure rate, but they backed off due to some combination of watching what was happening with four-man rushes and getting roasted by a fully scrubbed in Dr. Bo when they did blitz.
Whatever the plan was, Dr. Bo, on one healthy ankle, was at his sharpest when the walls were closing in and did juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust enough when they weren’t. The result was a send-off win for a guy who helped change the direction of Ole Miss football*.
*Before #WAOM took over and everything went to hell.