Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said he is relying on his team’s strength until it’s proven he otherwise should. And that could potentially not ever be the case.
“Until something changes, we will play to the strength of our team,” said Freeze after his team held UT to 191 yards total offense – all passing yards.
“They are getting turnovers, and (quarterback) Bo (Wallace) isn’t turning it over in SEC play. He hasn’t had one in SEC play.”
Freeze felt the Tennessee defense is also good. They had proven it this season and they proved it again in this one, especially early.
Ole Miss struggled some early offensively, trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter before scoring a touchdown with just more than five minutes to go before halftime.
The Rebels obviously never relinquished that lead as Ole Miss led 14-3 at halftime and simply built on it in the second half.
“They’re really good on defense,” Freeze said. “We had problems the entire first half (offensively). Part of it was we did not have any field position the first quarter and a half. And we just didn’t win on first down. We were in third and long and they were just teeing off on us.”
The Rebels’ first touchdown was the result of a beautiful four-play drive. Two of them were runs by I’Tavius Mathers of 7 yards and a 1-yard loss, followed by two sensational catches by Vince Sanders from Bo Wallace – of 28 and 39 yards.
Along with Gary Wunderlich’s successful extra point, the Rebels had a lead they would not relinquish at 7-3.
“It was very big. The offense was struggling,” said Freeze of Sanders’ two receptions on that second-quarter drive.”
Sanders said he was glad to help get the offense on track again.
“Coach (Matt) Luke was saying on the sideline, ‘Big time players make big time plays in bigtime games.’ I wanted to be one of those guys,” Sanders said.
“They were trailing their best corner on Laquon,” Freeze said . “So we decided to see if we can win a battle on another corner with Vince. And we won it.”
Sanders had four receptions in the contest, same as teammates Laquon Treadwell. Sanders had 108 yards and one touchdown. Treadwell had 43 yards and no touchdowns. Evan Engram had the other touchdown reception, a 28-yarder from Wallace.
Everyone's Best Shot
Freeze said the players told him in the locker room of that stat – 0 rushing yards on 28 carries for the Vols. Their head coach said he would reward them.
The Rebels’ offense amassed 383 total yards – 180 yards on the ground and 203 through the air.
Wallace was 13 of 28 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly – no turnovers again.
Freeze said as good as the Rebels are playing, they have to continue to do so, and more. And that starts again at LSU next Saturday night.
“We’re going to get the best shot from everybody now,” he said, after his Ole Miss career record moved to 21-11. “Our kids understand the rivalry. LSU looked more like themselves last week.”
LSU beat Kentucky 41-3 in Baton Rouge Saturday night.
Not A Yard
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