Ole Miss defeated UTEP 28-10 Saturday night to move to 2-0. It was a solid win for this fledgling program and out of it came some interesting developments.
In the first half, the Rebel offense was on the short end of the stick in field position, starting their five drives in the half on their 8, 16, 2, 3 and 27.
"We had three touchdowns. On the other two drives, the staff messed one up and our quarterback (Bo Wallace) had a bad series," Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze explained.
On their fourth possession, the Rebs, leading 7-0, went 97 yards in seven plays after the Ole Miss defense had come up with a goalline stand.
The drive was vintage Freeze and here's how he viewed the march as it was unfolding.
1-10 UM 03: QB Bo Wallace completes a 12-yard pass to WR Korvic Neat on a bubble screen.
"That's not really what we call a pass play. It's a called run play. Bo could either give it, keep it or throw the bubble. Those screens are built into all our zone run plays," Freeze began. "Bo saw the safety playing off and the linebacker was trying to play the box. Bo read the linebacker pinching down into the box, so he threw the screen. We try to average four yards on that play, but Donte (Moncrief) sealed off the corner with a good block, Korvic made the safety miss and got 12.
"When we're backed up, our only thought is to get one first down. When we get that, then we change our mindset."
1-10 UM 15: Wallace finds WR Donte Moncrief for 11 more yards.
"This was a beautiful read, resulting from Bo being taught properly. I wasn't sure he was going to see the corner fire (corner blitz), but he did and made the right decision," Freeze continued. "The corner fired and Donte released. He was a little quick with his release and brought the safety into play, but it was a good throw and catch. Again, that's a run called, but Bo made the right decision when he saw the look he got."
1-10 UM 26: RB Jeff Scott scampers for six yards on a form of the old fumbleruskie the Rebels call Wolfpack. Everyone crouches behind a tight OL, the center snaps the ball to the QB, everyone goes right. But the QB hands it to a back to go the other direction.
"I've been waiting to call this and I think it would've been a good play, but Jeff started running a count or two too quickly," Freeze said. "Had he hesitated another second or so and gotten the defense all flowing to their left, I think it could've been a big play. Still, it was a good play, a positive play and the rest of the teams we play this year will have to work it in practice, which takes time."
2-4 UM 32: Scott rushes for two yards.
"We ran the Tiger (Wild Rebel) set with Mackey at quarterback, a look we showed before. We felt they would think Randall would run the ball, so we brought Jeff in motion and flipped the ball to him," Freeze stated. "I flipped the ball there because if the back coming across the QB mishandles the ball, it's an incompletion and not a fumble. The stat guys got the stats wrong - Mackey was actually 2 for 2 on the night. That forward lateral is a completed pass. We didn't get much out of that because UTEP played it real well. We couldn't get the edge - it was too populated out there. In every chess game, you lose a piece here and there. Same with football. What we try to make sure of is that it's not a negative play. I can live with a two-yard play to give us a third-and-short, but I don't want a minus yardage play."
3-2 UM 34: RB Randall Mackey rushes for four yards and first down.
"This play was our read option. We were matched up three-for-three on the outside and Bo read the play to give it to Randall when the DE pinched down instead of keeping it himself," said Freeze. "We did a poor job of blocking from our tight end in the slot or that play could have gone for a much bigger gain. We got the first down, though, and that was the objective."
1-10 UM 38: RB Jaylen Walton rambles for 11 yards.
"I jumped into an unbalanced line right - the first time we've gone unbalanced - and ran the option to the right. We felt we would have them outnumbered," he continued. "We did and Bo read it to pitch it to Jaylen, who made a nice run even though we didn't get the edge blocked the way we wanted to. Again, Bo made a nice read because the only MA (missed assignment) our line had the whole game was on that play where they missed a DT. He would have mauled the dive man or Bo had Bo kept it. We would've been in bad shape if Bo hadn't seen the MA."
1-10 UM 49: Wallace completes a 51-yard touchdown pass to Walton, who scampers down the Miners' sideline for the score.
"We're now on the 49 and I've got my landmarks on my call sheet. On the right hash, here's what we want to do because we felt they would be in quarters coverage or a two-man man coverage, which they were," Freeze said.
"We ran Jaylen on the wheel route, Ja-Mes (Logan) tangled up both defenders on that side with an underneath slant route and Jaylen was wide open. That's a tough route to cover when you're in quarters or man because the safety out there has to keep an eye on the box and cheat in. We had great run action on that play and sucked the safety in just enough to allow Ja-Mes to tangle him up with the corner. Jaylen was off to the races. Great play."
7 plays, 97 yards, 3:32 off the clock. Rebs lead 14-0.
There were other impressive offensive moments in the game - such as the Randall Mackey to Ja-Mes Logan halfback pass for 32 yards that sparked a needed put-the-game-away TD drive and a 15-play, 84-yard touchdown march that ended the first half and gave Ole Miss a 21-0 intermission cushion - but the 97-yarder was vintage Freeze.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that, a trick play and then lower the boom with a big strike.
Some of it was by design, some of it was off Freeze's play sheet, some of it was seeing something to exploit and some of it was a gut feeling.
Put it all together and it was cool to watch.
Into part of the offensive mind and system of Hugh Freeze.