As we wind down Year Two of the Lane Kiffin era at Ole Miss, it’s clear that one of the many things separating him from his predecessors is he does not subscribe to games with a theme of “just get to the finish line,” especially against inferior teams. He wants points, more points, and then more points while they’re getting points.
Last Saturday against Liberty, with offensive injuries once again collecting a toll payment, we witnessed history in the first Kiffin-coached game where there was no other option but to grind it out. The offensive line was a mess, Matt Corral was, as he said “on one leg,” and the receivers were living in the third row of the depth chart spreadsheet.
With previous Ole Miss coaches, you soon learned there would be multiple uninspiring games where the best thing you could say was well, at least they won. It took Kiffin 19 games to have that experience, and it only happened due to the aforementioned blank spaces across the offensive depth chart.
Ole Miss’ win over Liberty was something no one will remember or rewatch, and it was not fun to watch* when it was happening in real time. It was a throwback to the performances Matt Luke, Hugh Freeze, Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, and David Cutcliffe readily produced. The only difference here is, barring another injury plague, it won’t happen again under Kiffin.
*By “watch” I mean in a non-Liberty-silently-sitting-across-the-room fashion.
What We Know
Part II: The offense is in desperate need of healing potions and elixirs
After doing enough in the first half to put Liberty in a spot where they had get away from their game plan and play from behind, the offense went into funk that bounced between mediocre and outright bad. Behold, the second-half drive chart:
- 9 plays, 54 yards, made field goal
- 7 plays, 51 yards, missed field goal
- 6 plays, 12 yards, turnover on downs
- 5 plays, 14 yards, punt
- 2 plays, 7 yards, end of game
Hooooo boy. Very hearty ranking of: NOT GREAT, BOB.
After Jerrion Ealy’s 70-yard touchdown run on the second play of the game, Ole Miss gained 72 rushing yards on 27 attempts, which is a special brand of didn’t see that coming. Even Kiffin said in his post-game comments that he felt coming into the game Ole Miss would run the ball well. Quite the blindside after the ease of that Ealy run.
As we covered last week, unless they get healthy in a hurry, Ole Miss is not going to be very good on offense. Which is a shame, because prior to the injuries, they were on their way to what would’ve been a remarkable offensive season.
Sam Williams: Doesn’t much care for keeping the quarterback upright
With two more sacks on Saturday, Williams set the single-season school record for the category.
That's 10.5 sacks on the year for @DegarrickSamuel— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) November 6, 2021
A new Ole Miss modern-day single season record. pic.twitter.com/BjWrwmtGB7
Given the number of snaps Williams has to play (not quite ALL THE SNAPS but MOST OF THE SNAPS), it’s impressive for him to set a record when he has to be exhausted for the last quarter of each game.
I feel like I repeat it every week, but considering the snap count numbers for so many players on defense, that side of the ball has to be running on fumes.
Lane Kiffin: Non-tying bow tie person
Thankfully, our ivory-tickling son has the skills.
Had to get @Lane_Kiffin right for the walk of Champions this morning! pic.twitter.com/NBJswWroNX— John Rhys Plumlee (@PlumleeJohn) November 6, 2021
Wherever life takes John Rhys Plumlee after college, he will always have a future in elder care.
What We Kinda Know
Lightbulbs and such coming on for JRP and Dannis Jackson?
Both receivers posted 100+-yard games and looked the part at times, combining for 13 receptions and 236 yards (Jackson had one touchdown). In his post-game comments, Kiffin talked about how Plumlee had a great week of practice and it seemed obvious a mini-breakout like this was coming.
Previously, Corral said Jackson has all of the abilities to be great and had shown it in practice, so this also appeared to be in the works. I know it’s Liberty, but if Ole Miss can’t get out of the injury-sponsored funk by getting healthy, guys down the depth chart producing could be an alternative solution.
Did we just become not filled with dread when we are forced to kick field goals?
I know Ole Miss is all about that never-kick life, but true freshman kicker Caden Costa is sitting at 11 of 14, with a long of 50 yards, and looks as though it comes very easy to him. I realize typing these last two sentences has doomed him to a miserable finish, but he should be recognized for seemingly giving Ole Miss football one less problem to worry about, which is always a bonus.
What We Don’t Know
First and most importantly, WHO DID THE DANG TWEETS?
An anonymous hero (or heroes) among us:
The first one is almost the perfect tweet among every tweet ever. I also love (LOVE) that has huge “we thought of this in July and have been sitting on it for 4 months” energy. Congrats to all involved.
And a vigorous BOOOOOOOOOOOO for having to delete them. They were hilarious and captured one of the key pillars of Twitter dot com: bring us the stupid and absurd #content.
Outside of the usual BIG J JOURNALISM #SPROTSWRITER suspects, the tweets also got some Ole Miss fans upset on the net. I will never understand any Ole Miss fan riding for Hugh Freeze (HUGH FREEZE), a guy who never once apologized and admitted how badly he screwed up at Ole Miss. Not just his tenure, but whoever followed him.
It’s entirely possible to agree that he did great things for Ole Miss, while also admitting he, through his own arrogance, pride, and stupidity, destroyed what he built and made Ole Miss worse while possessing the ability to maintain what he built.
Luke, Nutt, and Orgeron never had the ability to build or sustain anything. Freeze did, and instead, he burned it down. That’s why he should be judged so harshly.
Now, a moment to self-plagiarize:
Freeze lost his last game at Ole Miss 55-20 to an in-state rival to finish 5-7 and was well on his way to driving the program into a canyon. Lmao, dump all the trash on him.— Gray Hardison (@BellyoftheBeast) November 6, 2021
It’s a shame Hugh behaved the way he did because he deserved to stand on that sideline in 2017 and watch every minute of his team getting the shit kicked out of it on the way to 4-8 and him getting fired that year or in 2018.
What does Ole Miss look like against Texas A&M?
There are #rumors that important people could be returning, giving Ole Miss a much better chance against Texas A&M. Obviously if they roll into Saturday with the same offensive situation as they did against Liberty, it’s probably gonna be tough sledding for the better part of 3+ hours.
However, if they have some firepower back, we can all feel better about what we’ll witness. Unfortunately, this information will remain in the Don’t Know category until roughly 5:45 PM on Saturday.