OXFORD, Miss. – Sean Rawlings remembers the bad taste he and his Ole Miss teammates had in their mouths after the loss to Memphis last season. To ensure that doesn’t happen again, the Rebels’ right tackle and his fellow linemen are focused on executing at the same level they did in the win over No. 11 Georgia Saturday.
At this week’s press conference, Rawlings emphasized the importance of protecting the quarterback for the full 60 minutes—something Ole Miss was not able to do in last season’s matchup against Memphis.
In that game, a 37-24 loss, senior quarterback Chad Kelly was sacked three times for a loss of 25 yards and also threw two interceptions.
Rawlings recalls that poor execution was the main factor that led to Memphis (3-0) scoring 24 unanswered points after Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) had jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
“That one hurt; that one hurt us,” Rawlings said. “It kind of affected our season, but we moved on from that.”
Following that loss in 2015, Ole Miss won five of its next six games with the Rebels’ only loss coming by one point in overtime to Arkansas.
Ole Miss offensive line improving each week
This season, the Rebels’ offensive line is improving and becoming more consistent each week. In early losses to Florida State and Alabama, Kelly was sacked eight times–but Rawlings said he and the offensive line have talked as a group about getting better and limiting the hits on Kelly, making sure they give him the proper protection.
Right tackle Sean Rawlings
In the win over Georgia, however, the offensive line gave Kelly enough time in the pocket to find his receivers in the Bulldogs’ secondary. As a result, the Buffalo, New York native completed 18-of-24 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns and was only sacked once.
We are ready to go out there and play another game Saturday and do the same thing we did this past Saturday and that’s give great effort and great energy.
New celebration for the offensive line?
After almost every touchdown the Rebels scored against Georgia, the members of the offense line went to one another and shook hands symbolizing “good job.” Rawlings admitted it was senior center Robert Conyers’ idea to begin with. The sophomore referred to Conyers as “Mr. Funny Guy.”
“I liked it,” Rawlings said when he was asked about the celebration. “We decided before the game we were going to go up and shake hands. So that was pretty cool and funny.”
Ole Miss and Memphis will kick off at 6:00 p.m. (CT) in Oxford this Saturday. Unfortunately, which television channel shows the game will not be determined until Thursday night. ESPN is broadcasting the World Cup of Hockey Championship Series beginning Tuesday. It is a best-of-three contest, with game two set for Thursday. If a third game is necessary, it will be televised on ESPN and the Rebels and Tigers will be shown on the SEC Network Alternate Channel. However, if the series is decided Thursday in its first two games, Ole Miss and Memphis will air Saturday evening on ESPN2.