Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick takes a look at the Ole Miss Postgame Points, examining the top five takeaways from the Rebels’ most recent football game. Here are the Postgame Points from the opening win over Texas Tech.
1. Positive Statement
The Ole Miss football team made a positive statement in its 47-27 win over Texas Tech in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game in Houston on Saturday. The Rebels were well-prepared and put on an impressive performance from start to finish against the Red Raiders.
Ole Miss could not have started the 2018 season any better than by scoring less than a minute into the season opener. However, what has to have Rebel fans excited is that Ole Miss never let up after getting that initial touchdown. The Rebels kept their foot on the pedal for the final fifty-nine minutes of action. It tells me that this is a team with veteran leadership and a squad that understands how to finish games.
The victory over the Red Raiders marks the first time the Rebels have won a non-conference game against a Power 5 opponent in the regular season since September 2013. Ole Miss scored a resounding 44-23 win over Texas at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin that year en route to an 8-5 season that ended with a Music City Bowl victory. The win over Texas Tech resembles that win over Texas in several ways. Hopefully, this season-opening win is a springboard towards a special season in Oxford.
2. Lethal Weapons
Junior A.J. Brown hauled in a team-high 7 catches against Texas Tech for 93 yards and a touchdown. Senior DaMarkus Lodge grabbed 6 passes for a team-leading 96 yards. Sophomore D.K. Metcalf recorded 4 receptions for 81 yards and scored the first touchdown of the season for the Rebels. Sophomore Braylon Sanders tallied a career-best effort with 4 catches for 60 yards.
3. Efficient QB
Jordan Ta’amu was a very efficient quarterback in the season-opening 47-27 win over Texas Tech. The senior from Hawaii connected on 22 of 32 passing attempts for 336 yards. He tossed 2 touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Ta’amu had command of the offense and made smart decisions with the football. He was accurate with his passes and led the Rebels up and down the field against the Red Raiders. These are things that are expected of a senior quarterback and team leader. Yet, it is remarkable to realize that Ta’amu was making just the sixth start of his career as an Ole Miss Rebel. It has been a joy to watch this young man grow into one of the better quarterbacks in the SEC in a short time. He looks poised to lead the Rebels to many more wins this year!
4. Explosive Running
Junior Scottie Phillips made SEC defensive coordinators aware that Ole Miss has more than talented wide receivers to plan for this fall. Phillips was explosive running the football in his Rebel debut. Coaches spoke highly of Phillips in fall camp, and it took just a quarter for Ole Miss fans to see what excited the coaches about the transfer from Jones County Junior College.
Phillips found the end zone late in the first quarter against Texas Tech with a 39- yard dash to give Ole Miss a 24-7 lead after the opening stanza. In the third quarter, Phillips raced down the field for a 65-yard touchdown run to put Ole Miss on top 37-20.
Phillips finished the game with 16 carries for 204 yards and 2 scores. His 204 yards are the most ever for a running back in his debut game in an Ole Miss uniform.
5. Special Teams
Ole Miss got a nice effort from the special teams units in the big win over Texas Tech. After the Red Raiders tied the game up in the opening quarter, Jaylon Jones returned the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to quickly put the Rebels back on top 14-7. Jones is responsible for the only 2 touchdowns Ole Miss has recorded on kickoff returns since the 2012 season.
Sophomore Luke Logan looked really good kicking the ball on Saturday. Logan was perfect on 5 PAT attempts, and he connected on all 4 of his field goal attempts to end his afternoon with 17 points. Logan made a career-best field goal from 39 yards out that should give him confidence as the season progresses.