Ole Miss backup QB Barry Brunetti struggled throwing the football last year. Consequently, opposing…
The Rebels converted on 11 of 17 third downs in a 51-21 rout of Troy, amassing a school record 751 yards of total offense. The record stood for 62 years. Ole Miss had 623 yards of offense against Auburn in 1951.
"Those were good," said Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace of the conversions.
The Rebel junior signal-caller was 14 of 22 for 223 yards and two touchdowns. He and Barry Brunetti hit nine different receivers.
"I probably held the ball longer than I have in a while," Wallace said when dissecting the third-down successes. "The O-Line didn't give up any sacks. So, I was going all the way to the fourth and fifth progression on a lot of those. Anytime you can convert like we did on third and long, it's a good day."
Wallace said it wasn't his first day to be around a 750-yard-plus day of offense.
"Yeah, in juco a couple of times," he smiled and said. That was at East Mississippi CC.
But for the Rebels, it had never happened in history.
Even defensive coordinator Dave Wommack got in on the fun after this one.
"Record-breaker," he said and smiled as offensive coordinator Dan Werner walked into the media room.
Putting up 51 points and totaling 751 yards makes everybody happy on both sides of the ball.
It wasn't all perfection, but Werner said it was good the offense kept on churning.
"The penalties make us look a little sloppy, but obviously we were overcoming them, which is even more exciting," he said.
Laquon Treadwell continues to prove he's one of the outstanding receivers in the country. And arguably the best freshman.
He had four catches for 53 yards, the most important of them two first-quarter touchdowns that set the tone for the entire day of Rebel offense.
His first touchdown was a breaking-tackles, shifty-moving race of 25 yards from Wallace.
"When he caught it, I saw so many people around him that in my mind I was like ‘OK, what are we going to call next?' I thought he was going to get tackled right there," Werner said. "We're about the 10 or 15 yard line, so what do I need to call? He just kept breaking tackles and I think he's going to be at the 2-yard line. Then he pops it in for a touchdown."
Werner said he was just fine with that, too.
"As an offensive coordinator, you can set your gameplan down for just a bit and smile," he said.
Werner said Treadwell reminds him of a NFL star he once knew.
"He's so physical he reminds me of a young Michael Irvin. That's the way Michael played the game," Werner said. "Michael wasn't a huge burner, but he knew how to get open. He had very strong hands, and when he caught the ball he would out-physical you. That's what Laquon does."
Barry Brunetti has been called on to do more passing lately. In the Troy game, he was 3-for-4 for 97 yards and a touchdown."
Werner said now folks know to watch out for Brunetti on the ground or through the air.
"The first couple of games, every time he came in we basically ran it," he said. "We were using that to set it up. Now people understand that if you try to load up the box, he's going to throw it deep on you."
Brunetti said 751 yards of O?
"That's crazy. I haven't heard of that many yards before," he said. "That's pretty good. Give it up to the coaches. They prepare us and had a great plan. We did a great job excuting it."
Brunetti is thankful for the opportunity to pass and run.
"They're giving me more options. It helps out that we can put the defense on their heels. Now they've got to be prepared for both," he said. "They don't know if it's run or pass. I'm thankful to Coach Freeze for giving me a chance to throw."
Brunetti said he always felt he could get the job done, on the ground and through the air.
"I never lost confidence. I always knew I could throw. I've got a strong arm, and God has blessed me with a strong arm."
Center of Attention
Evan Swindall, senior center, was part of the record-setting day. He snapped the ball to get things started.
"I'm so excited," he said. "As a team we played great. Bo and all the running backs were just great."
Swindall said the third-down conversions are huge, as indicated above.
"We work on those every day," he said. "It changes the morale against the defense. As we keep moving, it hurts the morale of the defense. So it's a big deal."
Up next is powerhouse Missouri, whose lone loss was in overtime at home to South Carolina.
Swindall knows the Tigers area a formidable foe.
"But I think we're ready. I know (Missouri) is a great team, of course," he said. "But I think we can go in there and we can give them a great fight. We're at home, so it should be really good."
Swindall likes the progress of the offensive line, and he said it had to happen for the Rebels to keep winning.
"I guess our focus has gotten better," he said. "Just more and more reps later on in the season. I think that's a lot of what it is. We've gotten better as a unit. Working together more. That's what's happened."