Bad Beats Worse

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- This time, the Rebels didn't wait until the third quarter to find a way to lose.

This time, they did it for most of the game.

And this time, it was against Kentucky, who before Ole Miss rolled into town had not won an SEC game either.

You think the 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt earlier in the year was rough? 30-13 at Kentucky might very well have been worse.

The Rebel offense actually gained 392 yards this time, but those yards did not translate into many points. The end zone, except once, may as well have been in Africa.

"We did some good things on offense, but the bottom line is nothing is good enough when you don't win," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nut, whose team is now 2-7 overall and 0-for in the SEC in six unsuccessful tries. "Everything looks worse when you lose."

It would be hard to imagine the game looking worse than it did.

Early on, the Rebs seemed to move the ball at will, but had to settle for two field goals after getting deep in the Kentucky red zone. That inability to get touchdowns came back to haunt them in the end.

"We had one touchdown called back for offensive pass interference and we missed a block on a wide open play that would have scored another," said Nut. "That is what is so frustrating. We just keep beating ourselves. . . . . "

While that had to raise the frustration meter to a boiling point, it didn't stop there.

The Rebels ended up with 11 penalties for 93 yards and several of them were of the critical variety – drive-stopping variety.

"When you get something going and the game is on the line, and you have those key penalties, they crush you," Nutt explained. "You can't do that in this league, but it seems I have been saying that a lot this year."

Randall Mackey
Bruce Newman

The Rebs did score a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter to take a 13-10 lead, but then, for the next 22 minutes, it was a tale of errors and woe. And no more points. Zero.

Meanwhile, Kentucky exploded in the latter stages of the game.

On defense, the Rebels didn't fare any better than the offense.

Facing true freshman Quarterback Maxwell Smith and a run game that has, until they faced the Rebels, been pretty anemic, the Rebs were licking their chops to play the Wildcat offense.

Not so fast.

Smith torched the Rebels for 283 yards and two scores in the air and once again a running back gained over 100 yards on the Reb defense.

This back was not Trent Richardson. He was not even Michael Dyer. Heck, he wasn't even Dennis Johnson. His name is Coshik Williams. Who? Yep, that's what I thought. Well, Williams gained 111 yards on 25 carries and scored twice.

Kentucky went to the well several times, seeing man coverage most of the night, on the long ball and never connected until the end of the game – when it counted. Twice.

After the game, Nutt talked about the penalties, the wasted timeouts they had to take to get guys lined up right, the missed opportunities, et al.

There really wasn't anything else to say. It's been that kind of year, repetitively bad.

The one bright spot was Bryson Rose, who hit two field goals to run his consecutive streak to 17, one short of the SEC record of 18.

And even he wasn't happy.

"We want to win. I don't think about the (field goal) record. I think about winning, something we haven't done much of," said Rose, looking down the whole time. "We were in good spirits, the sidelines were good, we were positive, we were playing hard – then it fell apart at the end. I don't know. . . . "

Rose is not alone in "not knowing."

It's been that kind of year. Very few answers, very few remedies and very few results.

Nutt was asked, amidst a lot of speculation, if he anticipated being the Ole Miss coach next year. He's not even sure about that at this point.

"I don't know. That is not for me to decide. I'd like to be. I plan on being the coach, but that is not my decision," Nutt stated.

In the meantime, there are three more games to play.

"We were counting on winning this game. It has been a tough year, very difficult," he said. "We will have to do a great job to bounce back from this one because I am sure Louisiana Tech feels like they can come in here and beat us next week."

After a bad team beats you, what else is there to say? Louisiana Tech, this is your opportunity.

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