Music City Bowl 2013: 10 Things We Learned in Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech
Wallace accounted for 342 yards (256 passing, 86 rushing) and three touchdowns, and the Ole Miss defense made two key late-game stops to seal the game.
Darren Waller hauled in a 72-yard touchdown for Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets' triple-option attack was held in check by the Rebels defense.
Ole Miss finished the year at 8-5, Georgia Tech ended at 7-6, and the Music City Bowl taught us a few lessons along the way.
Bo Wallace Owned the Game
Bo Wallace struggled during the season finale against rival Mississippi State, and he came out on a mission.
The junior quarterback took an Alex Smith-like approach, distributing the ball to open receivers while not forcing bad passes downfield. Wallace's lone mistake, an interception by D.J. White, was a result of an underthrown ball, but it wasn't a poor decision.
He finished the game completing 22-of-32 attempts for 256 yards and a touchdown while running for a career-high 86 yards and two scores.
Wallace was officially named the 2013 Music City Bowl's Most Valuable Player, via the bowl's Twitter feed.
Ole Miss Defense Swarmed Jackets' Rushing Attack
Entering the game, Georgia Tech averaged 311.7 rushing yards per game on 5.6 per carry.
Robert Godhigh, Vad Lee and Synjyn Days each broke off nine-plus-yard runs on the opening drive, and the Yellow Jackets gained 55 rushing yards on 11 carries during that possession.
But after the successful drive, Ole Miss contained the triple-option scheme, limiting 37 carries by Lee and Co. to just 107 yards. The 2.9-per-carry mark was practically half of Tech's season average, and it helped shift the game in the Rebels' favor.
Overall, Georgia Tech gained 162 yards on 48 carries (3.4 per attempt), and Lee was forced to throw 17 times—something the Jackets are not built to do.
D.J. White Was Georgia Tech's MVP
Sophomore defensive back D.J. White was outstanding all game long.
White racked up a career-high 13 tackles, but that isn't even the most impressive stat. In addition to those tackles, White broke up three passes, forced two fumbles and also intercepted a pass.
Between White and senior Jamea Thomas' 15 tackles (three for loss, one sack), the Yellow Jackets' secondary was tough to get past.
Of course, it also means Georgia Tech was reliant on its defensive backs to make too many stops, but White made plays in every facet of the game.
D.T. Shackelford's Mental Acuity Sealed the Game
During the fourth quarter, the Rebels offense and special teams made a few silly mistakes that let Georgia Tech back into the game.
Penalties. Turnovers. Blocked kicks.
Following Bo Wallace's lone interception, Georgia Tech had an opportunity to take the lead.
However, D.T. Shackelford saw a trick play developing and forced Corey Dennis to run backwards. Serderius Bryant tracked down Dennis, popped the ball loose and earned Ole Miss a safety.
Had Shackelford not cut off Dennis, the Yellow Jackets could have ripped off a huge run and eventually scored a game-winning touchdown.
Youth Again Dominated for Ole Miss
Ole Miss is a young team, and that inexperience showed throughout the season. Against Georgia Tech, though, the whippersnappers came to play.
Sophomore defensive tackle Issac Gross tied for the team high with eight tackles and led the team with three tackles for loss. Freshman defensive back Tony Conner tallied seven tackles, including one for loss.
Georgia Tech rendered true freshman receiver Laquon Treadwell ineffective during the first half. However, he caught five passes for 51 yards, including a crucial third-down reception as the fourth quarter came to a close.
Sophomore Mike Hilton forced a fumble that led to an Ole Miss touchdown, and though freshman Robert Nkemdiche was suspended for the first quarter, the former No. 1 overall prospect notched five tackles.
Headlined by the aforementioned players and currently injured lineman Laremy Tunsil, the Rebels certainly have a bright future.
Blocked Kicks Were on Andrew Ritter
Andrew Ritter had a forgettable day, missing a 28-yard field goal low and getting two kicks blocked.
And no, you did not read that wrong. The senior hit the underside of the crossbar on the short field goal, and low kicks were the theme of the day. He even had a point-after attempt blocked.
Give credit to Georgia Tech's Adam Gotsis for being in the right spot to block both kicks, but he should never have had a chance.
Ritter hit three line drives, and Ole Miss left seven easy points off the scoreboard.
Sean Poole Will Never, Ever Run Another Fake Punt
Bowl games provide prime opportunities to break out trick plays that may never be run again. And when said play is executed like Georgia Tech punter Sean Poole's fake punt, it definitely will not be.
On 4th-and-11 at the Ole Miss 49-yard line, Poole rolled right, faked the soccer-style punt and took off running.
Unfortunately, the dreaded turf monster tripped the senior punter, and Georgia Tech turned over the ball, ceding excellent field position.
Ritter eventually missed the kick, so the Yellow Jackets ultimately survived the ordeal, but it still was an ugly play.
Donte Moncrief May Have Finished His College Career in Style
The season is over, and junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief must make the decision of whether or not to go to the NFL.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Moncrief as the 12th-best draft-eligible receiver prospect, so he certainly will be drafted should he go pro.
And if it was his last outing, Moncrief ended his college career in style, snagging six passes for 113 yards and a score.
Moncrief tip-toed up the sideline and scored a 28-yard touchdown. He later outran the Georgia Tech secondary for a 52-yard gain that set up a field goal.
He finished the season with 59 receptions for a team-high 938 yards and six touchdowns.
Hugh Freeze Is Entering the Offseason on a Roll
The hype surrounding Ole Miss officially started after Hugh Freeze and his staff grabbed a bevy of top 2013 prospects.
Carried by a handful of those top recruits, the Rebels upset LSU and lost to just one unranked team (not counting the loss to Auburn, which was unranked at the time) before knocking off Georgia Tech.
Freeze recently inked a contract extension, keeping the 44-year-old head coach locked up for four seasons.
As evidenced by his 2013 class, Freeze is already a great recruiter, but a bowl victory and eight-win season will help Ole Miss get one step closer to being an SEC contender.
And Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee thinks Ole Miss has proven it is ready.
Paul Johnson's Bowl Record Slipped, and His Job Might Follow
Paul Johnson has consistently taken his Georgia Tech teams to the postseason. Once the Jackets get there, though, the results are not what they want.
Johnson has called the shots at Georgia Tech for six seasons, but he is just 1-5 in bowl appearances during that span.
Overall, he is now 48-32 at Tech, but his Yellow Jackets have not won nine games since 2009, and some fans are getting increasingly frustrated with the 12th-year head coach.
If Johnson is retained for the 2014 season, he will be under the microscope, starting with national signing day in early February.