Ole Miss beats LSU in key SEC West Battle
OXFORD, Miss. — Saturday in a sold-out Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Ole Miss beat the visiting LSU Tigers, 31-17. The Rebels move to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC after putting together a game that is, thus far, their most well-rounded win of the season.
Back in the Cage
The week before playing the Rebels, LSU ran for 321 yards against the Florida Gators — led by running back Tyrion Davis-Price who notched 287 yards. However, Ole Miss put the Tigers in their place Saturday, holding head coach Ed Orgeron’s offense to just 77 yards rushing. Davis-Price finished with just 53 yards on the ground.
LSU starting quarterback Max Johnson threw for 146 yards and his back-up Garrett Nussmeier ended the game with 103 passing yards.
Ole Miss defensive back Tysheem Johnson intercepted LSU’s Johnson on the Tigers’ second possession of the game. Orgeron had elected to go for it on 4th and goal from the three when Tysheem made his big play. This was the first time all season that LSU had been thwarted in the red zone and was a huge momentum shift in the game.
The following drive for the Rebels offense ended with a 43-yard field goal from true freshman Caden Costa that gave Ole Miss its first points in the game.
The Tigers next drive would end in a missed field goal, and on that drive defensive back AJ Finley made a big-time pass break up in the end-zone.
The next Ole Miss series would end in a Rebels’ touchdown, putting Ole Miss up 10-7 with a lead they held for the remainder of the game.
Top tacklers for the Ole Miss defense were linebackers Mark Robinson and Chance Campbell who had 12 and 10 total tackles, respectively.
Five different Rebels recorded sacks in the game: Chance Campbell, Sam Williams Sr., MoMo Sanogo, Cedric Johnson and Tavius Robinson.
The defense forced four fumbles in the game which were caused by Chance Campbell, AJ Finley, Sam Williams Sr., and Cedric Johnson. Ole Miss recovered two of those fumbles thanks to efforts from Cedric Johnson and Jake Springer.
Postgame, Johnson talked about what the Rebels did to generate pressure on LSU quarterbacks.
“We’ve just been switching up our movement schemes and how we’ve been going into gaps. We’re trying to open up different gaps for us to hit, and it just really worked. We’ve just been practicing really hard and doing different looks and it’s starting to work out.“
DL Cedric Johnson
Head coach Lane Kiffin praised the Ole Miss defense’s performance. “Our guys have really done a good job against two completely different offenses going from a tempo offense last week to a traditional run game offense, so that’s awesome to see because we had our Arkansas bad game and sort of got back on track,” Kiffin explained. “So, awesome on defense.”
Matt being Matt
Every team’s quarterback is a critical part of its success. While Matt Corral might not have been one-hundred percent, physically, following an injury in the Tennessee game, his will to win was in full force.
After the game, Rebels’ QB talked about how he felt after carrying the ball 30 times against the Vols and being somewhat limited against LSU. “Honestly, it’s great. Better than what I expected,” he said. “After the second quarter the shot wore off, so was just feeling every bit of it. The big thing is I didn’t mess it up anymore and we got the win, that’s big.”
Corral finished the game completing 18 of 23 passing attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown. He also added 24 rushing yards on 12 carries, one that went for a touchdown.
The leading rusher in the game was Snoop Conner who finished with 117 yards on 14 carries. “He ran really well early and got us out of a backed up minus-one situation with some good runs,” Coach Kiffin said after the win.
“We needed that,” Kiffin said of the performance by the running backs. “When your quarterback’s down and a couple of receivers are down, to get 266 yards without the quarterback putting much in, that is really awesome.”
Ealy Finds His Stride
Running back Jerrion Ealy finished the Rebels’ 31-17 win over LSU with 97 rushing yards on 12 carries and one touchdown. He missed the Arkansas game two weeks ago while being in concussion protocol and was limited in last week’s game at Tennessee, only taking seven of the team’s 62 carries.
The Walnut Grove, MS native looked very strong against the Tigers and seemed to be running the ball more confidently. “Just mentally and physically, fresh,” Ealy said of how he felt.
Ealy talked about what was different about this game for him. “(Before) I didn’t trust myself. I didn’t trust my speed. I didn’t trust my abilities that I have. Today I said, ‘I’m going to trust it, whatever happens, happens.’”
Lane Kiffin discussed what had changed for Ealy in Saturday’s game. “I think he opened his stride up.” Kiffin said. “He had not been doing that, he was stopping his feet. I talked to him this week and said, ‘Hey you’re a speed back and you’re not playing like it. You’re not really letting it loose.’ We said it right after that run, on the headset, ‘That’s what it’s supposed to look like.’ When you’ve got a speed back that’s what it’s supposed to look like, there’s a hole and he’s gone.”
An Ole Miss Legend
Ole Miss legend Eli Manning had his No. 10 jersey retired at halftime during the game. Fellow Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral talked about it after the game.
“It was for sure a blessing just to have him in our presence. It’s not every day that you get to see a family like that, and I think Ole Miss is blessed to be a part of that and for that to be a thing. And you know that family… It’s a legendary family. And just for them to show their faces and show everybody some love here at Ole Miss. It is truly a blessing for sure.”
Matt Corral on Eli Manning
Home Sweet Home
In the game versus LSU, Vaught-Hemingway hosted its sixth largest crowd in history. “I felt like the fans showed up,” Coach Kiffin said. “They were there early on the Walk (of Champions). It was awesome to see. ….That’s what you’re supposed to do. Let’s keep it up.”
Ole Miss travels to Auburn to take on the Tigers. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. (CT) and will televised on ESPN.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)