The Rebels botched an opportunity for a blowout today after going up a quick 21-0, but Kiffin and co. managed to hold on to win a frenetic, run game showcase by both teams, further extended by lightning delay. Ole Miss continues to be a good, but confoundingly inconsistent team, playing like an SEC champion for one quarter, and like a bottom-dweller the next.
Good news first: the Ole Miss offense, while skewing run-heavy, has no real identity… in a good way?
- Last week: Jaxson Dart throws for 448 yards, completing 78% of his passes and only two rushing attempts. The Rebs rush for 143 yards total. Ok.
- This week: Dart runs for 115 yards, but completes fewer than 50% of his passes for 130 yards and… three touchdowns? Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans add 139 and 136 yards; the Rebs run for 448 yards total. That...also works.
A well-earned shoutout also goes to Dayton Wade (woo woo), whose 107 total yards rushing and receiving powered the Ole Miss offense in the early going.
So, while the offense lacks consistency and polish, they adapt and make big plays no matter what the defense is trying to take away.
The bad news: the defense is even more of an enigma than the offense, alternating drive by drive between a run-stuffing, QB-punishing juggernaut, and allowing run after game-breaking run. The 3-2-6 formation is partially to blame, but the main issue appears to be one of arm tackles and bad angles from guys who are experienced and talented enough to do much better.
It wasn’t all bad for the defense, despite Auburn’s 301 yards on the ground. AJ Finley had an interception that should be a shoo-in for ESPN’s top ten plays; Tavius Robinson terrorized Auburn QB Robby Ashford early; and Deantre Prince sealed the game with a late pass deflection and interception on Auburn’s last drive. But Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter rushed for 179 and 80 yards (9 and 8 yards per carry, up from season averages of 4.4 and 4.1).
The ????? news: Ole Miss plays a slate of five extremely talented, but flawed teams the rest of the season. The white-knuckle, guts-in-a-knot, drinking-straight-whiskey-at-11am season is just starting. Buckle up.