Ole Miss Coach Feels Pain Of Loss

Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe finished his media conference following his team's 35-3 loss to Arkansas on Saturday, sighed and told a friend, "That was like being beat with a sledgehammer."

The tough part for the Rebels was that they weren't quite sure how the sledgehammer hit them.

John Latina, their offensive coordinator, said, "Obviously, we're going to have to evaluate the whole thing. Our preparation felt good, but we didn't play the way we're capable."

Ole Miss defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach said, "We had good effort, but not good execution."

So how can you have one without the other?

"That's the million-dollar question," said Rebs linebacker Rob Robertson. "It's what our coaches are wondering. We had one of our best weeks of practice, but we're just not doing it in the game. We take turns not executing. One play it's the linebackers, the next play it's the safeties."

Michael Bozeman, the Rebels' excellent nose tackle, had one explanation, to go with his one tackle.

"Arkansas used a new blocking scheme and double-teamed our tackles every down," he said. "It was hard for us. Arkansas was more physical than they looked on film."

McKinley Boykin Ole Miss' other defensive tackle (three stops), said, "There was nothing we could do. (UA quarterback) Matt Jones just beat us. He's just real fast, man. I think some of our team gave up early on."

Driesbach wasn't buying the new-scheme theory.

"Arkansas ran the same plays in the second half that they did in the first half, and we held them to 67 yards rushing and 69 yards passing in the second half," Driesbach said. "Matt Jones played (almost) three quarters and their other quarterback (Robert Johnson) has played a lot this year. We played in the second half the way we should have played in the first half."

Cutcliffe was asked what he said to the Rebels at halftime, when they trailed 28-3.

"We talked about energy and effort, staying on the field in offense and getting off the field on defense," Cutcliffe said. "But we weren't able to do that."

Both Ole Miss quarterbacks who played, Ethan Flatt and Robert Lane, also met the media.

"At the beginning of the game we were in shock," said Flatt, the starter. "We got in a huge hole, and that allowed (Arkansas) to be aggressive. It was not a good day for us. We felt it (leadership) on the sidelines, but it didn't happen on the field."

Lane said the two-quarterback system on Saturday was fine with him.

"Just like always, we did it just like we practiced," he said.

Flatt said Ole Miss hoped to exploit Arkansas' secondary, but he said, "They played well. They had a couple of new guys back there to fix some problems, and they didn't make any mistakes in coverage."

Ole Miss (3-6) also used some new players in the fourth quarter, when it became clear they would not be bowl-eligible this season.

"This is uncharted territory for all of us," Robertson said.

But Cutcliffe, whose team still has games left against LSU and Mississippi State, said he "couldn't speculate" on whether he would continue to use younger players.

"We've got two big rivalry games left, and we've got no choice but to go back to work and do things to be successful," he said.

He was asked about his failed gamble on fourth-and-1 from the Arkansas 47 with Ole Miss trailing 7-0 in the first quarter.

"I felt we had to make a stand," Cutcliffe said. "I wanted to challenge our offensive front. It was a risk we needed to take. We didn't respond, and that was one reason behind our not playing well. We lacked execution in every phase."

He said he couldn't put a finger on why Ole Miss played so poorly.

But he did say, "We can't take anything away from Arkansas. They were outstanding. Matt Jones is an impressive football player. He's been tremendous in his four-year career. He can make a lot of plays and beat you in a lot of ways."

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