Broken Record

There were too many players on the field on offense for Ole Miss when the Rebels got ready to line up for the game's final play Saturday night. Officials with any heart would have looked the other way. But they didn't.

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Surely, you'd think, they'd have to feel for a bunch of players going through what the Rebels are this season. But no. There was a five-yard step off from the 5-yard line to the 10, making it still third and goal.

Of course I'm being facetious. Refs have a job to do, if the score is close or out of hand, if there is much time left or not.

All of this end-of-game proceedings really didn't matter much. It actually mattered so little after Ole Miss scored a touchdown on the final play to cut Auburn's advantage to 41-23 they didn't even bother to make the teams line up for an extra point.

Bryson Rose, the dependable placekicker for the Rebels, might not have felt too good about that. If nothing else, it stole a possible additional point toward his Ole Miss career mark.

Sorry, Bryson. Maybe there will be more significant kicks for you before this season is over.

But at this point it's questionable there will be anything of significance remaining in this most dismal of Rebel football seasons.

Ole Miss continues to play decent first halves against good competition. The two prior weeks, Alabama led 17-7 at halftime, which left the Rebels within striking distance. And against Arkansas, Ole Miss led 17-7 at the break.

Auburn and Ole Miss were tied 17-17 at the half after the Rebels fought back from being down 14-0. But in all three games the Rebels did nothing, literally, in the third quarter of any of the games.

Houston Nutt
Associated Press

Alabama rolled on to a 52-7 win. Arkansas, which actually trailed 17-0 early, came all the way back and hung on for a 29-24 victory. Auburn emerged from the halftime locker room and ran away from the Rebels, leading 41-17 before the insignificant final drive.

It's become a broken record. Everything has. The games. The gameplans. The comments. Those were three good football teams the Rebels played the last three weeks. But the Rebels had little shot of victory.

This is an Ole Miss team that needed early wins this season and didn't get them. The Rebels blew it against a mediocre BYU team that isn't even playing Jake Heaps at quarterback anymore. He hasn't started the last four games, benched in favor of Riley Nelson, who played a tiny bit against the Rebels, rushing the football once.

Kind of amazing, too. Heaps was coming off a stellar season, and the BYU folks raved about him. He was the talk of the Rebels' preseason practice. Tyrone Nix said the Rebels wouldn't see a better one.

Ole Miss led 13-0 and lost 14-13 against the Cougars. A killer start for a team, and a program, in need of confidence and wins.

Against Southern Illinois the next week, the Rebels got a 42-24 win but led 35-10 in the third. SIU cut it to 35-24 before Ole Miss tacked on one more. It was not an impressive performance against a lower division NCAA team.

Then came Vanderbilt and the Rebels were never in it, trailing 30-0 and losing embarrassingly 30-7.

Georgia at home and a 14-point loss. Fresno State on the road and a 10-point win.

Then an open date before the three "A's" in a row.

The youth on this team has at least something to do with moments like having too many players on offense on the field. And having to call timeouts at what appear to be inopportune times.

And having clock management situations like the end of the Arkansas game after recovering an onsides kick and having a chance to win the game. And at the end of the half of that same game, not being wise with the clock in a lackluster effort to get some points before halftime.

And at the end of the first half at Auburn Saturday night when, with a timeout remaining, the Rebels could have forced Auburn to punt from deep in its own territory but chose to let the clock run out and head to the locker room.

Those are things that make you go "hmmmmm." And a lot of times they end up costing you in the end. Either the end of a game or a season or a career.

There's no room in SEC play for haphazardness. It won't work. You won't win. Not in this league anymore.

Brandon Bolden
Bruce Newman

You can only blame youth for so long. Coaching plays a part and is an issue. And there have been a few injuries, especially defensively, that have been a factor. But injuries are a factor to some degree for every team every year.

And you can always use some breaks like Arkansas has gotten this season. The Razorbacks pulled out the close game at Ole Miss. Then at Nashville Saturday all the breaks seemed to go the Hogs' way, especially late when they needed them most.

A fumble returned the length of the field for a touchdown. A missed field goal by the opponent to preserve victory. Sometimes things just have to go your way. But mostly you make your own breaks.

Ole Miss has its most winnable game in the last month dead ahead this weekend at Kentucky. Mississippi State got past the Wildcats 28-16 in Lexington Saturday night for its first SEC win.

The 2-6 Rebels, 0-5 in SEC play, certainly need a win, and they need more than just one. Louisiana Tech, LSU, and MSU are after that.

But the way they haven't been able to put any semblance of four quarters together all season makes winning any of them appear to be a stretch.

"We are just not matching the intensity we enter the game with," Houston Nutt said after the loss to Auburn. "We play the first half trying to set the standards of the game, but when we come out at halftime, we just can't get back on that level. Once we learn to match it, we will be able to finish games."

It's about to be November.

And for a coach who loves to say "They remember in November," he certainly needs to have a memorable one right now.

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