So close, but so far away, as Ole Miss falls 27-26 to Vanderbilt
The Rebels of Mississippi hosted the Commodores of Vanderbilt in what was perhaps the most important game ever played between the two schools Saturday. A game that didn’t have much in the way of national hype, but was of vital importance to the two schools and fan bases. Both teams entered with five wins, needing this game to become bowl eligible.
Unfortunately for Rebel fans, Ole Miss lost in heart breaking fashion 27-26 as Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers connected with WR Chris Boyd on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 52 seconds left to play.
This leaves so many questions for Rebel fans when perhaps fans should be happy they have improved so much from last season’s two win debacle. Hugh Freeze has maybe over-played his hand by getting too much production too soon from a young team, but with a close loss in a game they led the entire time, you have to feel good about Hugh Freeze as a coach going forward.
Here is a look at some of the Successes and Failures of the game
Vanderbilt’s head coach was the epitome of leadership. As the team lost leading rusher Zac Stacy in the opening minutes of the game to injury, he held the team together and found what they could do against a dangerous Ole Miss team.
Entering the locker room at halftime down 16-6, and getting very little offensive production at that point, QB Jordan Rodgers hinted the game turned on Franklin’s words. Rodgers quoted Franklin as saying:
"This Vanderbilt team is a team that finds a way to fight through adversity. This Vanderbilt team is one that finds a way to win through the toughest of times."
Coming out of the locker room for the second half, Franklin kept the team on the move, trying different sets, different alignments, until he found a weakness in the Rebel secondary and got some help from his Vanderbilt defense to keep the game close.
The Rebel Junior running back didn’t get much help from his blockers as he was held to two yards per carry with 47 yards on 24 attempts. Most of these carries were on designed sweeps meant to stretch the defense across the field to wear them down for read-option plays by Bo Wallace or set the Rebels up for success in the passing game.
It worked to some extent, by getting the Rebels down the field (Ole Miss finished with 458 total yards) but in the red-zone the Rebels settled for field goals as the Vandy defense stiffened.
Game of the year for Logan as he finished with eight catches for 160 yards, Ole Miss fans hope to see more from this tall Junior receiver as he provides matchup problems with most any defensive back.
As the Vanderbilt rushing attack was slowed due to Zac Stacy’s injury, the secondary should have been able to load up with five or six defenders and shut down the Vanderbilt offense.
Vandy Wide Receiver’s Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd were just too good on this day. Finishing with over 200 yards they provide a great one-two punch for Jordan Rodgers and are just difficult to stop, especially for an Ole Miss secondary dealing with injuries to both starting corner backs.
Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd were highlighted in my preview piece on Bleacher Reports for this game, and they were as good as we expected, maybe better.
Matthews finished with 153 yards including one touchdown for 52 yards that was an NFL caliber route. The guy was open all night.
Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace finished with this best passing day of his Ole Miss career with 31-49 for 403 yards.
Ole Miss FS Cody Prewitt again had a great day, leading the team in tackles and showing up big on punt coverage
Vanderbilt S Javon Marshall finished with 11 total tackles