Postgame Points: Louisiana-Lafayette Game
Point No.1: Winning Ways
Ole Miss continued to impress the college football world on Saturday with another outstanding performance. The Rebels blasted Louisiana-Lafayette 56-15 in the home opener at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Ole Miss grabbed control of the game early and dominated the Ragin’ Cajuns throughout the afternoon. There were big plays on both sides of the ball, much to the delight of the home crowd.
With the win, the Rebels improve to 3-0 on the season. Voters in The Associated Press poll rewarded Ole Miss with the No. 10 spot in the AP Top 25 poll released on Sunday. This marks the first appearance for the Rebels in the top 10 since the 2009 season.
The Rebels will enjoy a bye week before looking to continue its winning ways at home against Memphis to finish up the September portion of the schedule.
Point No.2: Landshark Defense
The Ole Miss defense had another banner day in shutting down Louisiana-Lafayette. The opportunistic Landsharks forced a fumble and intercepted 3 Ragin’ Cajuns passes. Ole Miss took advantage of each turnover, scoring 28 points off of the 4 turnovers. With 3 interceptions on Saturday, the Landsharks now have 8 on the season, which leads the Southeastern Conference. For the second week in a row, the Rebels returned an interception for a touchdown when Senquez Golson picked off a Ragin’ Cajuns pass and went 59 yards for the score.
How good has the Ole Miss defense been this season? Besides leading the SEC with 8 interceptions, the Landsharks have allowed only 189 yards passing in the last 2 games. Further, the Rebel defense has surrendered just 2 touchdowns on the year, both of which came in the second half of games in which Ole Miss had a big lead and the game firmly in hand. To this point in the season, the Landshark defense has been a tenacious and dominating unit, the type of defense needed to reach the top of the SEC standings.
Point No.3: Efficient Offense
The Ole Miss offense was an efficient offense against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Rebels converted 3 trips into the red-zone into 3 touchdowns on Saturday. With a huge stretch of SEC games coming up in October, it is highly important that the Rebels are able to convert red-zone opportunities into points, especially touchdowns. To make a run at the SEC West title, the Rebel offense must continue to take advantage of scoring chances in the red-zone.
Ole Miss was very efficient on third-down and fourth-down conversions against the Ragin’ Cajuns, as well. The Rebels were able to convert on 7 out of 12 third-down attempts and were a perfect 2 out of 2 on fourth-down. Making big plays in clutch situations will be a key factor in the Rebels winning in SEC play next month.
Point No.4: Balanced Offense
Against Louisiana-Lafayette, the Rebels racked up 554 yards of total offense while displaying great balance between running and passing the ball. Ole Miss ran the ball 35 times for a season-high 214 yards against the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Rebels passed the ball 36 times for 340 yards. If the Rebels continue to have a balanced offense, they will make it hard on opposing defenses to slow them down. As well, the offense has shown that there are a number of weapons in both the backfield and on the perimeter, making it more difficult for opponents to focus their attention on certain players.
Point No.5: Guys Stepping Up
While the total team effort has been phenomenal this season, it seems that each week the Rebels have different guys stepping up to make big contributions to help the team win games. Bo Wallace was outstanding on Saturday, torching Louisiana-Lafayette for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air, while completing 23 of his 28 pass attempts. Vince Sanders had a career day against the Ragin’ Cajuns, catching 8 balls for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. It appeared that Louisiana-Lafayette focused their pass coverage heavily toward slowing down Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram, so Sanders took advantage of his opportunity and made some huge plays in the game. As well, the Rebels continue to show just how many weapons they have in the passing game. Sanders, Engram, Treadwell, and Cody Core each have had a game with over 100 receiving yards this season. Opposing defenses have a lot of guys to worry about when facing this Rebel offense.
The Ole Miss defense has been so good as a unit that it has been difficult to single out guys each week for outstanding performances. Senquez Golson stood out on Saturday with his 2 interceptions, including a pick-six in the third quarter. Mike Hilton broke up a pass, had 4 tackles, and added an interception. Trae Elston had 3 tackles, and he forced and recovered a fumble as Louisiana-Lafayette was driving deep into Ole Miss territory. Deterrian Shackelford and A.J. Moore each recorded 6 tackles, while Denzel Nkemdiche followed with 5 tackles on the afternoon. As with the offense, the Rebels have had a variety of guys stepping up on defense to make major contributions and key plays to help the Rebels get off to this 3-0 start this season.