BARNEStorming: Thoughts Around the College Football World
OXFORD, Miss. — Three weeks into the season and Ole Miss is 1-2, but after solid showings against then-No. 5 Florida and No. 2 Alabama, the Rebels would be 3-0 if moral victories counted. Unfortunately, the latter do not show up in the standings, so it is time to play the season’s first edition of “what if”?
What if the Ole Miss defense had made just a few more tackles? Or, what if they hadn’t had a few questionable penalties called on them? Remember the ridiculous roughing the passer call against the defense when the Rebels’ MoMo Sanogo sacked Florida QB Kyle Trask…or a few bogus pass interference calls against Alabama that might’ve changed the game. Chances are Ole Miss would be 2-1 or even 3-0.
What if the NCAA had ruled on whether or not Georgia transfer safety Otis Reese is eligible to play? If you recall, Reese has been approved by the SEC but has yet to hear anything but crickets from the NCAA–you know, the organization that is supposed to have the best interests of its student-athletes in mind.
What if Kenny Yeboah had not come to Oxford as a post-graduate transfer? Then, the Rebels would be missing a lot of production from the tight end position. Against Alabama, Yeboah caught seven passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Kenny Yeboah had 181 yards and 2 TDs vs Alabama (119 YAC) …And this is the most impressive rep! Kenny is a stud @Lane_Kiffin – NFL loves these tough HB types that can block/catch
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 11, 2020
What if Ole Miss would have had the benefit of a spring camp? Would the tackling be better and the offense even farther along?
Even head coach Lane Coach Kiffin on Monday pondered the effect on defensive units, wondering if the lack of spring camp hurt the SEC defenses more than the offenses. “I don’t know if that’s a product of missing spring ball and that’s more important for defense than offense,” Kiffin said. “But I’ve heard a lot of defensive coaches saying they’re struggling and I just read something about how many SEC teams are in the bottom half of defensive rankings. Usually, the SEC is extremely hard to move the ball on, especially to run the ball.”
HEY, WHAT ABOUT US?
Clemson is getting all the attention in the ACC, especially with its 42-17 win over Miami this week. But do not sleep on North Carolina.
The Tar Heels entered the Virginia Tech game ranked eighth nationally and promptly dismantled the Hokies, 56-45. The score is not indicative of the game. Leading 35-14, UNC let up and Tech was able to score 23 points in the third quarter. The Heels added 14 in the fourth to seal the win.
North Carolina and Clemson do not meet in the regular season, but it would set up an entertaining ACC Championship game. If no one remembers last year’s game, the Tigers had to stop UNC on a two-point conversion to preserve a 21-20 win.
AUBURN STOLE ONE
If Tom Brady was watching the end of the Auburn-Arkansas game, he must have been giggling. The Tigers got their own version of the “tuck rule” that Brady got to launch the New England Patriots’ dynasty.
Facing a running clock, the Auburn quarterback attempted to spike the ball to conserve time. But quarterback Bo Nix fumbled the snap, then corralled it and spiked it backwards—which should have resulted in a fumble. Even though Arkansas recovered the ball which would have sealed a Razorback win, the play was blown dead by the officials.
Arkansas got screwed by the refs. This is one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen and was absolutely a fumble by Auburn. pic.twitter.com/hL119lSoWA
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) October 10, 2020
After review, the referees’ call was upheld. Sorry Hogs.
The NCAA is allowing players to wear the number 0 this season. For purists, numbers seem to keep the game in order. Offensive linemen wear numbers from 50 to 79, defensive backs wear anything from 1 to 49, and in a perfect world, kickers wear number 3.
Players have thrown sand in the number gears before. Doug Flutie wore 22 as a quarterback and Shea Patterson wore 20 as a quarterback at Ole Miss. It was also freaky seeing Virginia’s quarterback wearing number 36 this week as well.
But seeing number 0 is going to take some getting used to; although, Ole Miss senior linebacker Lakia Henry wears it quite well. The Vidalia, Georgia native tallied five tackles, two solo, against the Tide Saturday.
HOW ABOUT THOSE FIGHTING CUTCLIFFES
Friday night, Duke was 0-3 and its offense was averaging 359 yards a game. At the end of Saturday, the Blue Devils were 1-3 after beating Syracuse, 38-24.
The Devils offense seemed to work out its early-season bugs, amassing 645 yards, with quarterback Chase Brice completing 22-of-38 passes.
Keep an eye on this efficient young man. David Cutcliffe recently sent Daniel Jones to the NFL and he is starting for the New York Giants.
Cutcliffe also coached a couple of other pretty good quarterbacks – Peyton and Eli Manning.
WHO IS THIS GUY? REBS FIND OUT SATURDAY IN FAYETTEVILLE
When SEC fans think of a diminutive running back wearing the number 22, most think of Emmitt Smith. Now those fans need to think of Arkansas’ Trelon Smith. The 5-foot-9, Houston native transferred to Arkansas after playing two seasons at Arizona State.
He got a shot at the field Saturday and made the most of his opportunity. Against Auburn, he picked up 81 hard-fought yards on the ground, which was just five fewer yards than his season total so far. Smith also caught six passes for 78 yards. Coming into the game, he had only eight catches on the season.
Former ASU RB Trelon Smith scores his first TD for Arkansas. pic.twitter.com/pKltHOTWlT
— Brad Denny (@BDenny29) October 10, 2020
Keep an eye on this number 22.
Speaking of Emmitt, he was spotted in the stands at Kyle Field watching his Florida Gators fall to Texas A&M. COVID-19 must really affect the SEC rules if he cannot score a field pass.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.