Quick Hits: Ole Miss defeats ULM on Senior Day in the Vaught, 35-3
OXFORD, Miss. – Here’s a quick glance at Ole Miss ’35-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. (Click here for box score.)
THE POSITIVE: Well first, it was a win.. After a stagnant performance in the first two quarters, whatever coach Lane Kiffin said in the halftime locker room worked.
The Rebels were able to contain their composure and after leading just 7-3 at the break, Ole Miss dominated the second half by outscoring the Warhawks 28-0.
THE NEGATIVE: The mental aspect. It was Senior Day at Ole Miss, but especially early, the Rebels suffered several senior moments.
There were costly penalties, blown blocking assignments, a missed field goal and a dropped pass that was an almost-certain touchdown.
The lapses could have been caused by a variety of factors. The drubbing last week at Georgia, ULM being a Group of Five school with only two wins on the year and of course, looking ahead to the Egg Bowl in Starkville in just five days.
And what was up with the turf at Vaught-Hemingway? Players were constantly losing their footing.
How weird were things in Oxford? Even the stat feed kept malfunctioning.
THE KEY PLAY: With seconds left in the first half, ULM was deep in Ole Miss territory and looking for a tying touchdown going into the break. But, Rebel defensive back Zamari Walton chased down Jiya Wright and not only made the tackle, but stripped the ball away. Wright was able to recover the ball but the Warhawks settled for a field goal for the 7-3 halftime score.
Had ULM gotten into the end zone, the score would have been tied at the half. The Warhawks would have not only had some momentum, but they also got the first possession of the second half.
Instead, the Rebels scored 21-unanswered points in the third quarter.
THE KEY PLAYER: Caden Prieskorn. With the Ole Miss wide receivers not having the best day of the season, the tight end stepped up to become the go-to guy for quarterback Jaxson Dart.
The Memphis transfer had a season-high six catches (only 10 previously all year), another season-best 69 yards receiving and his first touchdown as a Rebel.
THE KEY UNIT: The defensive front. The Ole Miss front seven were a constant presence in the Warhawks’ backfield the entire game. The Rebels ended with two sacks and seven tackles for loss.
With the offensive struggles in the first two quarters, the Landsharks stifled the ULM offense.
THE MOMENTUM SHIFTER: The three touchdown passes Jaxson Dart threw in the third quarter. Ole Miss scored on its first three drives of the second half to take control of the game and deflate the Warhawks’ chances for an upset. It started with a 13-yard score to Tre Harris III, followed by the pass to Prieskorn and then the back breaker, a 58-yarder to Dayton Wade.
WHAT THIS GAME MEANS GOING FORWARD: The second-half performance gives Ole Miss a tad of momentum before Thursday’s game in Starkville. Also, the lethargic first-half performance has shown the Rebs they cannot sleepwalk against a seemingly lesser opponent.
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.