It’s Saturday, September 17, and Ole Miss just made a statement in Atlanta against Georgia Tech.
The Ole Miss passing offense might be a problem, but its defense is a joy to watch. While Georgia Tech is a pretty bad football team, the defense absolutely dominated the Rambling Wreck all day. This wasn’t just Georgia Tech’s inept offense - the Rebels were consistently in the right place and made plays in open space when they needed to. That, coupled with a strong running game, will get it done against lots of teams.
There are currently three minutes left in the third quarter, and I’m writing this sentence, so..... yeah. I predicted a 35-13 victory in the Red Cup slack conversation, and it turns out I may have undersold this team. While Jaxson Dart’s nine first half pass attempts may be cause for concern/frustration, there’s plenty to be happy about too.
We’ve finally seen this team against a Power 5 opponent, and we can talk about them. Yay!
Let’s talk about that defense
This was absolute domination from start to finish. The Rebels allowed just 214 total yards all game, and a lot of that was with third stringers in during the fourth quarter. It was a blodbath, and the Rebs were on the right side.
Tech averaged 1.6 yards per carry and 5 yards per pass. Beautiful performance by a group full of transfer starters.
Things aren’t going to get much tougher next week against Tulsa (who is averaging 2.4 yards per carry on the season in spite of only having played against Wyoming and Northern Illinois as of this writing). After that, things turn up a bit, even though Kentucky’s offense isn’t spectacular either. Still, it’s nice heading into the second quarter of the season feeling great about one side of the football.
RUN THE DANG BALL
After having strong but not outstanding games against Troy and Central Arkansas, Zach Evans broke out against Georgia Tech with 18 carries for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. If I’m picking nits, he also had two drops in the passing game, but if he’s as productive on the ground each week as he was today, it doesn’t matter.
Quinshon Judkins played well too with 19 carries for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he didn’t look like a full-grown man playing Mississippi private middle school football like he has the past two weeks. It was nice to see Ulysses Bentley see lots of time in the fourth quarter too, turning 8 carries into 27 yards and 2 TDs.
The first string offensive line, which left the game heading into the fourth quarter, did a pretty good job in run blocking, not dominating but holding their own, which is more than can be said for....
The passing offense... also exists
Yikes. In the first half, Jaxson Dart was 4/9 with an egregious pick. He wasn’t playing well, but his offensive line was also just letting Georgia Tech live in the backfield. It’s frustrating to see an offensive line that returns four starters have so much trouble keeping average defenses at bay.
This isn’t all on the offensive line though. Jaxson Dart, especially in the first half, just continued to be unwilling to take what was there and tried to make every throw into something more than it should have been. He left a number of completions on the field as he tried to win it with every throw. Things went a lot better in the third quarter, but there’s a lot to work on this week.
One last note: Jonathan Mingo may finally be the wide receiver he was billed as for the past three years. He regularly abused his corners even if he only finished with three catches for 74 yards.
The Rebels face the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes next Saturday, Sept. 24 3:00 p.m CT on the SEC Network.