Postgame Points : Ole Miss 48, Memphis 28
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 win over Memphis.
1. Taking Care of Business
Ole Miss played extremely well in taking care of business on Homecoming Weekend in Oxford. The Rebels pounced on the Memphis Tigers early, sprinting out to a 24-7 lead by halftime. Ole Miss kept its foot on the pedal in the second half, adding another 24 points en route to a 48-28 victory at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Rebels move to 3-2 on the season, 1-1 in SEC action. At this point, Ole Miss is among the 10 best teams in America and remains on track to reach a New Year’s Six bowl. The Rebels are the best two-loss team in the land, without question. Ole Miss moved up to 14th in the AP Top 25 Poll this week. The Rebels have a bye this weekend before heading to Fayetteville to face Arkansas next Saturday night.
2. Third-Down Defense Stays Strong
The Ole Miss defensive unit certainly seems to have heard the message from Coach Hugh Freeze about getting off the field on third down. Coach Freeze emphasized the importance of this facet of the game before the showdown with Georgia. The Rebels responded by shutting down the Bulldogs on third down throughout the game.
Against Memphis, the Ole Miss defense was efficient in stopping the Tigers from converting third-down plays. The Rebels allowed the Tigers to be successful on just 5 of 13 third-down attempts. Ole Miss won the battle more often than not for the second straight week. The result was a great defensive effort, more ball-possession time for the offense, and a 20-point win for the Rebels.
3. Running Backs Balance the Offense
Ole Miss got exceptional play from its stable of running backs in the big win over Memphis.
As a team, the Rebels rushed for 263 yards. Eugene Brazley paced all runners with a game-high 124 yards in 13 attempts with 2 touchdowns, while backfield mate Akeem Judd added 108 yards on 15 carries. Jason Pellerin chipped in with 22 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The success of the running game was a perfect compliment to the Ole Miss aerial attack and enabled the offense to be well-balanced. The Rebels threw 44 passes on the night and ran the ball on 44 plays. Ole Miss kept the Memphis defense on its heels throughout the game. The Rebels got 361 passing yards from Chad Kelly, in addition to the 263 yards on the ground mentioned above. When Ole Miss can run and throw the ball with this much success, it is an extremely difficult team to beat at home or on the road.
Ole Miss came out of the game on Saturday night as a 4-1 winner in turnover margin against Memphis. Further, the Landshark defense produced 7 points courtesy of an interception return for a touchdown by Zedrick Woods. Woods was responsible for 2 interceptions in the game, while D.J. Jones came up with both an interception and a fumble recovery.
Ole Miss capitalized on the four Memphis miscues, as the takeaways led to 14 points for the Rebels. Those 14 points are huge when one considers that Ole Miss won the game by a 20-point margin. As I often state, the team that wins the turnover battle more often than not wins the game. I think it is the most important factor in any college football game. I have attended four games this season, and the team who had more takeaways has won each of those games. The Rebels have now won 2 straight games over quality opponents by taking care of the ball on offense and creating turnovers on defense.
5. Marquis Haynes
Junior defensive end Marquis Haynes wreaked havoc on the Memphis backfield during Saturday’s game. Haynes recorded 4 solo stops and 6 total tackles against the Tigers. As well, Haynes forced a fumble from Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson that was recovered by D.J. Jones.
Haynes made the night miserable for Ferguson by making a sack and registering two quarterback hurries, too.
Also, Haynes made a pair of tackles-for-loss that resulted in a loss of 14 yards for the Tigers. It is safe to say that Memphis will be relieved not to see Haynes next week, while Ole Miss fans hope he continues to impact games in this manner all season long.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)