Ole Miss shut out Tulane 39-0 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this week in New Orleans. This was the first shutout since the 2008 Egg Bowl when Ole Miss defeated the hapless Bulldogs of Mississippi State 45-0. I would like to say that I feel really excited about this Rebel team, and at 3-1, they are right where they want to be heading into SEC play.
But I’m not.
It is really hard for me to give this team a better grade than last week (C-). The defense may have improved, but the secondary was never tested, as true freshman Devin Powell started his first game for Tulane in place of injured senior Ryan Griffin.
Powell’s first pass of the day was a 32-yard completed fade route that gave Ole Miss fans fits, but from there on out, Tulane didn’t have much time to pass down the field. The D-line and linebackers were very active and looked good against a smaller Tulane team.
The offense really struggled after a shoulder injury to QB Bo Wallace. As a result of the injury, or possibly just a lack of focus, this team was not able to put a scoring drive together for over 20 minutes on Tulane.
This is Tulane, guys!
I don’t know how you can spin this game into a positive heading into Alabama week, but truthfully, even if Ole Miss was playing lights out right now, they would still not be close to ready for a team like Alabama. And that is OK, we just need to see improvement from this Rebel team.
This Week's Grade: C+
Running Backs: B
Another 300-yard game on the ground for the Rebels. Five players had over 30 yards rushing, and 10 different players racked up rushing stats this week. Barry Brunetti led Ole Miss with 67 total rushing yards, as a lot of players got some work this week. If not for a fumble by Mackey, this may have been an A effort.
Offensive Line: B
The ground game is as ready as it can be for Alabama, which is not the same as saying the team is ready for Alabama. The O-line racked up another SEC honor, as sophomore left guard Aaron Morris was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.
Ole Miss continues to lead the SEC in rushing at 259.8 yards per game and is the 11th -best team nationally.
Bo Wallace getting injured against Tulane is a big problem for this young Rebel team. Ole Miss becomes very one-dimensional without a healthy Bo Wallace. Barry Brunetti came in and did an adequate job in Wallace’s absence, but the team really needed to work on the vertical passing game leading up to a matchup with Alabama, and staying healthy was at a premium. Ole Miss did neither after the first quarter of the Tulane game.
Given that Wallace has a minor injury, would you play him, or let him sit and get ready for Texas A&M? I would let him sit.
Defensive Line: C
You can’t be disappointed in a defense that only gave up 14 yards rushing, but Ole Miss only recorded five tackles for loss, only three sacks and the defensive unit gave up 10-of-16 third-down conversions. Granted, a lot of second- and third-string players saw the field this week, but those are less-than-stellar marks against Tulane, which is arguably the worst offense in college football.
The Big Picture
This was supposed to be a feel-better game for Ole Miss coming off the Texas game, which was one of the worst defensive efforts in Ole Miss’ history. You had a Tulane team that was reeling, dealing with injuries to an already bad team. You needed to play a complete game and really get in a lot of productive work as an offense and a defense.
It just doesn’t look like that happened for Ole Miss this week. There are still a lot of questions on this team. How bad is Wallace’s shoulder? Is the defensive secondary any better after a lot of position changes were made? Can the smallish linebackers survive an SEC schedule?
These questions are all about to be answered quickly for Ole Miss this week. I think Ole Miss can take some positives away from this game but objectively, they are a long way away from where the Ole Miss coaching staff wants to be.