Wow. I am just bewildered by what transpired two nights ago. The Ole Miss Rebels and Alabama Crimson Tide put on a show for the nation to see. In a game that was a lot closer than many expected, Alabama pulled away late, winning 63-48.
From the opening drive, viewers could see that this Ole Miss Rebels team was going to put points on the board. The Rebels drove the length of the field in just 54 seconds, as tight end Kenny Yeboah got off to a hot start, collecting two receptions for 58 yards and the touchdown.
The early lead wouldn’t last long though. Alabama’s first drive was just as dominant. The Crimson Tide established the run early, a theme that would shape much of the game late. Senior wide receiver Devonta Smith ended the drive with a 14-yard touchdown reception.
Ole Miss would punt on their next drive, but come up with a huge stop defensively. Alabama drove their way down the field and tried to punch it in from about the one-yard line. Running back Najee Harris got turned around at the line of scrimmage and sophomore safety Jakorey Hawkins stripped the ball away, creating Harris’ first career lost fumble.
Snoop Connor got the ensuing drive started for the Ole Miss Rebels with a 34-yard rush, his longest of the night. The drive almost stalled out after an offensive pass interference call on Yeboah, but a long run and a catch out of the backfield by Jerrion Ealy moved the chains. Ealy punched it in giving the Rebels their first lead of the night.
A short three and out by both teams led to another quick strike by Alabama. Capped by another long reception by Devonta Smith, the Crimson Tide tied the game after just six plays. Game square at 14.
The Rebels would take the lead again before the half. They went on an 11 play, all-ground drive. At Alabama’s 35-yard line, the drive looked to be in trouble on 4th and one, but Connor came up big again, taking the rock for 26 yards and a 1st and goal. Two plays later, he punches it in for another score, Rebs up 21-14.
Yet again, the lead wouldn’t last. On the last true drive before halftime, Alabama tied the game with their third score. This time it was John Metchie III who came up big for Alabama. His 32-yard reception set up Harris’ first touchdown of the night. Tie ballgame, 21-21, at halftime.
The Ole Miss Rebels wouldn’t hold a lead for the rest of the game. To start the second half, there were seven touchdown drives in a row before Ole Miss kicked a field goal to make the game 49-45 in favor of Alabama.
The game was all Alabama from then on. The last three drives saw two more Alabama touchdowns and another Ole Miss field goal. Final score Alabama 63; Ole Miss 48.
Ole Miss Rebels’ Five Takeaways
1. Jeff Lebby is going to have a LOT of Suitors this offseason.
The stark difference in the Ole Miss Rebels’ offense between last season and this season is incredible. Lane Kiffin, who is locked in at the Vaught-Hemingway, and his offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, have turned a one-dimensional, overall bad offense, into one of the most dangerous in the country.
Lebby has been a big part of the offensive scheming and has experience doing it elsewhere as well. In his time at UCF, they had a similarly well-balanced, efficient offense. If there are some moving pieces in the coaching carousel in the SEC this coming offseason, expect Lebby to get a few calls.
2. Kenny Yeboah is the Best Addition Kiffin’s Made.
After last night’s game, it’s fair to say that Yeboah is one of the best tight ends in the SEC, and Lane Kiffin has put together a perfect system to get him involved. Yeboah is big, athletic, and can make plays on the ball on his own.
He currently leads all SEC tight ends in receiving yards and is only second in touchdowns to Kyle Pitts at Florida. During the game, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw an interesting stat. Yeboah already has the most receiving yards of an Ole Miss tight end since 2014. Keep in mind, Dawson Knox played for the Rebels in that time span.
3. The Ole Miss Rebels have a Top RB Group.
Both of the Rebels’ starting running backs, Ealy and Connor, are incredible players. That said, they are very different runners stylistically. Ealy runs outside the tackles with great speed and elusiveness. Connor, on the other hand, runs with more power and strength through the tackles.
In the SEC, Ealy and Connor both rank in the top 11 in rushing yards. They both have scored four touchdowns, tied for second in the conference. The pairing of the two make for a great chance of pace for the Rebels’ offense.
4. The Ole Miss Rebels’ Defense is ABYSMAL.
I really don’t think this is anything new. We’ve known this. I just had to reiterate how bad it is. Alabama put up 723 total yards and was six of seven on third down. Simply put, the defense has to do better for the team to do anything.
5. SEC Officiating is Bad. And not just in this game.
Before talking about how the SEC Officiating did the Ole Miss Rebels dirty, I feel like I need to mention how bad the last call in the Auburn-Arkansas game was. Arkansas, who the Rebels play next week, should have won the game. Instead, the officials made one of the most boneheaded calls I have ever seen.
As for the Rebels, there were a few *questionable* flags thrown that were essentially drive enders. One that comes to mind the most is the illegal contact called on Elijah Moore. He was running a slant route across the line of scrimmage and made incidental contact with a linebacker that was deemed illegal contact. Come on. That’s embarrassing.
This coming week, the Ole Miss Rebels travel to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks. Arkansas has had a tough start to their season and got much worse last week. We’ll take a better look at it during the week. Hotty Toddy!
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