Leading up to the Georgia Tech game, Rebel fans all had visions about how the game would unfold, with most of those ending in a comfortable Ole Miss win.
I can confidently say no one outside of the team and coaching staff saw the possibility of Ole Miss engaging ELITE SERVICE ACADEMY RUSHING ATTACK mode.
Ole Miss ran for 316 yards on 62 (s i x t y t w o) carries, and the top three running backs had two touchdowns each. In fact, Ulysses Bentley IV, the third man in that group, scored touchdowns on 25 percent of his rushing attempts (see: IDEAL).
Though no one seems to listen when he says it, Lane Kiffin has repeatedly said his Ole Miss offense is built to his players’ strengths and changes from year to year and game to game within a season. The offense attacks where Kiffin thinks it can hurt defenses and based on what the defenses are trying to take away.
If that means throwing it 50 times, then throw it 50 times he shall. If that means running it 62 daggum times, then a defense is in for a not real pleasant Saturday afternoon.
Let us remind ourselves Georgia Tech is all kinds of bad, but Ole Miss didn’t just win easily. The Rebels put on a suffocating performance, which is what should happen against bad teams if Ole Miss is a good team (and they might be!).
We will find out more on that front when Tulsa comes to Oxford on Saturday. Of note, if you mingle with Tulsa fans at their tent, treat any offerings of food as if you are in the state of Oklahoma. DON’T EAT ANY SEAFOOD.
What We Know
Jaxson Dart gave us a glimpse of the player he can be
Our puka shell-wearing son didn’t put up great numbers (10-16 for 207 yards, 1 INT), but he made a few throws that qualified as MATT CORRAL SHIT™. Most importantly, after an interception before halftime that could be described as “Lane Kiffin had a stroke watching it”, followed by the accompanying ass-chewing (Kiffin’s words), Dart was outstanding in the third quarter.
He finished 6-7 for 115 yards, with four completions going for 24+ yards. Mixed in with the running game, Ole Miss’ third quarter drive chart looked like this:
- 8 plays, 63 yards, touchdown (3:18)
- 7 plays, 69 yards (obligatory: nice), touchdown (2:12)
- 12 plays, 68 yards, touchdown (4:00)
That, friends, is how you bury a team that was ripe for burying. Multiple consecutive drives where Dart was in control and pulling the right levers. I, for one, would love to keep seeing that.
Obviously, his numbers weren’t going to be outrageous due to the aforementioned service academy commitment, but he did enough. My main concern, and Kiffin said this on Monday, was that in a 35-0 game, he scrambled to his left and lowered his throwing shoulder (THROWING SHOULDER) to run over a defender.
Please little tiny baby Jesus, let’s not do that again.
Defense: (Yawns) (Stretches) No touchdowns allowed again
In addition to the shutout, the Ole Miss defense only allowed 3.2 yards/play (the Ole Miss offense averaged 6.8) and 54 total rushing yards. If you recall, they gave up 3.3 yards/play against Central Arkansas.
They also held Georgia Tech to 6 of 19 on third/fourth downs and sacked Jeff Simms seven times. Devastating stuff.
For a more in-depth look at this, we turn to our numbers guru Will Gates, who brings us some tasty success rates*. Georgia Tech’s success rate on passing plays was 23 percent (national average: about 41 percent) and 30 percent on running plays (national average: about 43 percent). That’s what the advanced stats call STINKY.
*As a reminder, success rate measures if each play is successful. A play is successful if you gain 50 percent of first down yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth downs.
Continuing down this path, we turn to Jeff Simms’ passing success rates on standard and passing downs*. On standard downs, which a defense can reasonably expect a run or pass, he clocked in at 13 percent, which is WILD (Dart was at 67 percent). Oddly enough, on passing downs, where the defense knows you’re probably going to pass, he jumped to 32 percent (Dart: 50 percent).
*Passing downs are defined as second down with 8 or more yards to go and third/fourth down with 5 or more yards to go. All other downs are standard downs.
We are having visions of 2014, and we love to see it.
Zach Evans: He’s okay
Lmao, look at this run:
Vision, balance, acceleration, strength, and speed. Freakish stuff.
While we’re here, let’s get a count of Georgia Tech fans who are not mad but actually laughing:
One more bit of math
Once again leaning on Will’s numbers, a quick look at offensive success rates by quarter. Pray tell, where did it collapse for the Yellow Jackets?
- Ole Miss: 48 percent
- Georgia Tech: 36 percent
- Ole Miss: 42 percent
- Georgia Tech: 26 percent
- Ole Miss: 63 percent
- Georgia Tech: 15 percent
- Ole Miss: 25 percent
- Georgia Tech: 24 percent
If only the Yellow Jackets could’ve made the whole game the fourth quarter!
What We Kinda Know
No Sam Williams, maybe no pass rush problem?
Currently, the Ole Miss defense sits at fourth in the country in sack percentage (number of plays that end in sacks; this site only tracks FBS-on-FBS action). Granted, those numbers got a boost from the seven sacks on Saturday, but getting that many sacks, no matter the opponent, is hard to do.
We’ll learn a little more about this number on Saturday as Tulsa, a pass happy group, will give the Ole Miss defense plenty of opportunities to back that rate up. Of note, Tulsa’s offense ranks 77th in sack percentage allowed.
[insert eyeballs emoji]
Ole Miss = the new Frank Beamer Virginia Tech
Ole Miss opponents have punted 22 times this year. Ole Miss has blocked two of them and clearly intimidated a long snapper into snapping one over a punter’s head.
If you do the math, and who doesn’t enjoy doing math as an adult, Ole Miss is blocking 9 percent off all punts in 2022. That’s up from 0 percent* from 1975 to 2021.
*A rough but unverified estimate.
What We Don’t Know
One would not use the word “robust” to describe the passing attacks of Troy, Central Arkansas, and Georgia Tech. While Tulsa has done their passing damage against the gauntlet of Wyoming (loss), Northern Illinois, and Jacksonville State*, they do lead the country in passing yards per game. They’re also 12th in yards per passing attempt, which means they generate explosive passing plays.
The Ole Miss defense is 14th in yards per attempt allowed (one spot behind Georgia), but again [gestures at Troy, Central Arkansas, and Georgia Tech]. We shall soon see if the back end of the Ole Miss defense, combined with the pass rush, is capable of staying in that territory or experiences regression, but right now, we don’t know!
Handling a look-ahead spot
In case you truly are locked in at ONE GAME AT A TIME, Ole Miss plays Kentucky two Saturdays from now. Both teams will likely be undefeated and there will be hype on hype on hype.
But before Ole Miss gets to that, they have to beat Tulsa. Barring an unmitigated disaster (always possible!), they will beat Tulsa, but it’s unclear with what degree of ease.
What we do know is Ole Miss just faced their first road test and destroyed what was in front of them. As Lane Kiffin noted, the rat poison has been flowing this week.
Does this Ole Miss team, who could be really good, smash Tulsa in a pro mindset fashion or will it allow the rat poison to lead to farting around late in the third quarter and fourth quarter? As Kiffin loves to say, it’s a first for this group, and we don’t know.