Well, they did it. Somehow the feisty Ole Miss Rebels held off the Top 10 ranked Kentucky Wildcats during an 11 a.m. kickoff, 22-19. It has been a minute since we could say this, but our defense is awesome.
To sum up our second half offense the last two weeks, it’s uh... not good. Thank the good Lord above that Kiffin has built one of the top defenses in the country, probably knowing his offense would take a step back without Corral. Crazy what a smart, competent football coach will do for a program.
Anyways, let’s look at the 3 best plays, 2 players of the game and 6 important things from the Rebels win over the Wildcats.
3 Plays of the Game
- Quite easily, the play of the game was the Jared Ivey sack on Will Levis that led to a fumble and sealing the victory. The previous play was a Touchdown on 1st and Goal from the 8 that was called back due to the slot receiver not being set before the ball was snapped.
So on 1st and Goal from the 12 yard line with 58 seconds left, Ivey brought the blood pressure and heart rates down of the Rebel faithful across the nation with a strip sack to end any hope of a Kentucky last minute victory.
- Another fumble makes the top 3 this week as Austin Keys makes Will Levis fumble for the first time on the Wildcats next to last possession. Kentucky started this drive on their own 5 yard like with 10+ minutes remaining in the game, down 22-19.
Levis and company whittled the clock down to 2:55 with a 3rd and 2 on the Ole Miss 19. At the very least we were headed for a tie game and staring overtime in the face. The numerous blunders by the kicking game of Kentucky may have led to a fourth down conversion attempt rather than a field goal, but we will never know.
- It was possibly pass interference but Otis Reese did a great job attempting to jump over the receiver to avoid the penalty call and break up a huge pass on fourth down. On a rewind here, let me emphasize how terrifying Barion Brown is returning the ball.
After going up 22-19, the Rebels had a pooch kick carry a bit too far into the hands of Brown and he returned it 56 yards to the Rebels 39 yard line. Kentucky was in business again. The Wildcats had scored a touchdown on two of its previous three possessions and were heating up.
Back from his first half suspension, Reese leapt over the back of Chris Rodriguez, who would have had enough for a first down, to deflect the pass, ending the Kentucky drive. The first of three straight turnovers for Kentucky.
2 Players of the Game
Jaxson Dart-Malik Heath
Yea, Dart threw a pick with no touchdowns but the kid did his job. He continues to show flashes of what is coming as he matures. His connection with Malik Heath seems to be what we expected from Dart and Mingo or Dart and Trigg. But Heath has stepped up and just had his first career 100 yard receiving game (even though he played in the “Air Raid” for two years). These two kept the chains moving while the running game carried the team the rest of the way.
Friend of the blog, AJ Finley, had a big day for the landshark defense. He had 9 total tackles, but six of them were solo along with a fumble recovery on the first Levis fumble in the fourth quarter. Finley has a nose for the ball and always seems to be in on the play.
6 Important Things
- Three. Thats the number of points the Rebel offense has scored in the second half of the last two games combined. Talk about defense stepping up, the offense will need to adjust to the opposing adjustments going forward.
- The sharks were swarming again this week as they amassed 9 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks. A massive improvement from 2 TFL and no sacks against Tulsa last week.
- Don’t worry about Judkins taking on the lion’s share of the carries in this one. Evans was limited still and its important to get him healthy for bigger games on the horizon.
- Speaking of Judkins. What a whiff by Alabama and Auburn and an absolute steal by Kiffin and company. His combination of vision, speed and strength is showing to be elite as he continues to put up video game numbers.
- The tight end position is weird. Casey Kelley has been crucial with his blocking, but meh as a receiving option. Michael Trigg just does not seem comfortable out there and we are currently not seeing what he could be at his best. Hopefully these two settle in soon.
- All the hype heading into the game was about the return of Chris Rodriguez and potential No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Will Levis. Well the Ole Miss defense limited that offense to 328 yards of offense. So take your narratives and shove ‘em. Also, it wasn’t targeting.