What did we learn from Oxford?

Ole Miss 34  Tennessee 3

For starters, Mississippi is a very, very good football team.

The Rebels were being stifled by Tennessee’s valiant defense that held Mississippi scoreless in the first quarter, the first shutout of an Ole Miss first period this season. But they adjusted. They went to a bit of a hurry-up offense and scored very quickly, twice, in the second period to pull ahead 14-3 at the half. And that was pretty much the ballgame…

An all too familiar pose of Tennessee's quarterback Saturday night at Ole Miss.

An all too familiar pose of Tennessee’s quarterback Saturday night at Ole Miss.

Until Tennessee came out to start the second half by moving the ball and threatening to make a game of it after all. But then the Vols tried a triple reverse. The Tennessee ball handlers, all four of them on the play, had to avoid running into Rebel defenders there were so many of them. The play was brilliantly snuffed for a big loss, and that pretty much ended Tennessee’s night.

It was a long second half, with The Rebs outscoring the Vols 20-0 after intermission.

Predictably ugly as we pointed out here on the pre-game post: Tennessee’s OL was no match for Mississippi’s front seven. But it was perhaps even uglier than even the most level-headed of us thought. Here are some numbers for some digestion of reality…

  • Tennessee made only 10 first downs.
  • The Vols converted only 3 of 16 3rd down situations.
  • UT’s total offense was 191 yards, and they were all passing yards.
  • Rushing attempts: 28. Yards gained: 0. Yards per carry: 0.0 (Skewed by Worley’s -41 yards).
  • Ole Miss’ celebrated defensive front tallied 7 sacks.
  • Tennessee committed 4 turnovers to Ole Miss’ none. Three were INTs thrown by Worley Bird, and a fourth was a fumble on a kickoff return.

But, there were some bright spots…

  • Tennessee’s true freshman defensive end Derek Barnett just might be the second coming of Reggie White, who’s number 92 is preserved for eternity in Neyland Stadium: 10 tackles (four for a loss) and two sacks. And fellow DE Corey Vareen didn’t do too badly either. The Tennessee defense sacked Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace 5 times.
  • Vol sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton played like an NFL-calibre defender by sticking (sometimes jersey holding) to his man all night long, usually on single coverage.
  • Bulletin: we have a punter of worth. Senior Matt Darr is trying to steal the nickname “Thunderfoot” from former Vol punter Herman Weaver. With the offensive woes, Darr got a lot of kicks in on national TV (nine punts) and with the exception of one bad one (amplified by a good Butch chewing on the sideline), Darr was magnificent with a 45.6 yard average.

But don’t get too giddy. Next week, Tennessee hosts a football team that apparently got pissed off by their own fans and then promptly defeated a top-20 squad on Saturday to the tune of 59-0.

It’s the SEC. Every week.

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4 responses to “What did we learn from Oxford?”

  1. Bert says :

    ugh!!

    seems we were a bit too optimistic on our predictions or maybe just blind to the
    talent ole miss has….that was a whuppin’….

  2. rockytop78 says :

    What did we learn?

    (1) We still have no offensive line.

    (A) Whoever we play is going to line up a speed-rusher at left defensive end, who will overpower whatever body we have occupying the right tackle position; so our offensive coordinator (but see #2 below) needs to scheme to have a tight end line up next to whatever body we have occupying the right tackle position to help block; or to have a back remain in the backfield to help block; or both. (Watching the Mississippi defenders in our backfield last night was almost as bad as watching Alex Brown demolish us multiple times when we played Florida in 1999.)

    (B) Justin Worley may not physically last the season, because he appears to be the football equivalent of a punching bag for whatever team we play.

    (2) We may not have an offensive coordinator. (Or perhaps Randy Sanders has snuck back into town?) We have ZERO touchdowns in our last two games against SEC opponents, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we also have ZERO touchdowns this upcoming weekend against a pissed-off Crimson Tide. Has anything happened on the offensive side of the football in the past two SEC games that inspires any confidence in the ability of the Vols to score very much (if at all) against Alabama, South Carolina, or MIzzou?

    (3) Our defense, no matter how heroic they perform, cannot last 4 quarters against an offensive juggernaut. And given that Alabama and their first-year offensive coordinator just laid 59 points on TAMU, our defense is likely going to crumble at some point next Saturday; and by the end of the 4th quarter only people wearing crimson and white will remain in Neyland Stadium, after Bama pours it on without mercy.

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