Someone covering the Ole Miss-Central Arkansas game for a local paper will be tempted to open their post-game report saying something like, “Ole Miss what they were supposed to do,” beating a decisively outgunned Central Arkansas squad 59-3.
Luke Altmeyer and Jaxson Dart both threw two touchdown passes, though Altmeyer’s first start as a Rebel was cut short by what is hopefully a minor shoulder injury. Quinshon Judkins averaged 10.4 yards per carry on ten carries. Jon Mingo, Michael Trigg, Dayton Wade, and Malik Heath all had highlights in the receiving department, and the defense held UCA to under 50% passing and 1.6 yards per rush.
But throughout the game, there was a sense from the Ole Miss sideline – and really from most of us paying attention – that the Rebels were very often not doing what they were supposed to do, often succeeding due to a decisive advantage in athleticism, rather than good execution.
On a night where Lane Kiffin was clearly trying to give Altmeyer and Dart opportunities to get in a groove passing the ball, neither appeared to have great command of the offense; Altmeyer threw a pretty ugly interception and both struggled with deep connections (though honestly, receivers getting deep separation also appears to be an issue).
The defense looked talented, but not entirely focused; UCA was able to grind out some first downs, but really only threatened to score a couple of times, and were held to three points. It’s hard for a defense to dominate for an entire game, but Ole Miss came relatively close.
But y’all, Lane Kiffin does have a quarterback problem. Neither Altmeyer nor Dart have demonstrated an ability to open up a defense by making tough throws, and both have made their fair share of mistakes. Both have shown promise, but not necessarily the kind of potential that’s going to win 9-10 games this year.
It is still early; Lane Kiffin is certainly holding back a lot in terms of what he’s showing on offense; and surely, either quarterback could settle in a bit more as the season progresses, especially if and when one secures the starting role.
However, Ole Miss may find itself in an interesting position this year. In the roughly 25 years I’ve watched Ole Miss football, the team’s fortunes have heavily depended on the level of quarterback play. Rebel squads not led by Romaro Miller, Eli Manning, Jevan Snead, Bo Wallace, Chad Kelly, or Matt Corral have not been very good at all. This year though, we may be looking at a pretty damn good Ole Miss squad without high-level QB play.