Time to Respond
If the old football stereotype holds true, wide receivers are an unpredictable bunch.
They never lack confidence and, sometimes selfishly, always want the ball. Well, that’s how we’ve grown to think of them, at least. Terrell Owens. Chad Johnson.
Not so much for Laquon Treadwell.
No, Treadwell, a sophomore, only wants to help the team in any way he can. He never demanded quarterback Bo Wallace throw his way as the final seconds ticked off the clock in the Rebels’ first loss of the season at LSU last weekend, though few would have blamed him if he had.
“I wouldn’t do that to the team,” he said Monday, a scrum of reporters surrounding him. “I feel like Bo will make the right decision. We all have confidence in ourselves. If he chooses to come our way with the ball, we’ll do something with it.”
Wallace, admittedly, didn’t make the right decision Saturday. He locked onto Cody Core with nine seconds remaining and the offense in field goal range, forcing a throw into double coverage when a check-down pass to the sideline or incompletion would have sufficed.
The play, in many ways, was a microcosm of his night. He finished 14 of 33 for 176 yards and one interception.
Treadwell took his helmet off and walked the sideline when it happened, visibly frustrated with what had transpired. He shook his head when the 10-7 loss was official, retreating to a dejected locker room afterwards.
He had led Ole Miss with four catches for 71 yards. On the year, Treadwell 38 catches for 529 yards and four touchdowns. But in his mind, he could have done more.
Everyone could have.
“It was a bunch of the little things for us,” he said. “Blocking, lack of focus as an offense. We didn’t really lock in on all the little things and I think we beat ourselves.”
However, as frustrating as the LSU loss was, everything is still in front of the Rebels.
The debut rankings of the College Football Playoff committee were rolled out Tuesday night. Ole Miss was ranked No. 4, a spot behind its upcoming opponent, No. 3 Auburn, who the Rebels host Saturday at 6 p.m.
They control their own destiny, a fact not lost on Treadwell, No. 7 in the Southeastern Conference in both catches (4.8) and receiving yards (66.1) per game.
“We were ready (Sunday),” Treadwell said. “We were amped. I don’t think anyone got any sleep; we were ready to work. Got in and watched film. We’ll bounce back.”
Auburn is 6-1 on the year, including a 3-1 record in conference games. The Tigers are coming off a 42-35 win over South Carolina following their 38-23 loss to Mississippi State. They’re 1-1 on the road this season, both against ranked opponents.
The game will be the fourth time in five weeks Ole Miss will play a nationally-ranked SEC West team.
“I only watched a little bit of them, seen them in some Cover 2,” Treadwell said of the Auburn secondary. “They’re good. We’re going to have to come out and play and win the game.”
Critical for Ole Miss, according to Treadwell, will be staying out of third-and-long situations, which the Rebels struggled with against LSU. They totaled only 313 total yards in the loss and were an ugly 5 of 17 on third downs.
“That’s definitely what the problem is,” he said. “They know the pass is coming, so they can drop more. It’s harder to get a read of what’s going on and find the open man when you’ve got eight or nine guys in coverage.
“It all comes down to first down. We’ve been losing first down, and that’s a lack of focus, lack of effort. When we get to third and long, it’s an obvious passing down, so the defense can key in.”
One way to win first down could be passing more often and the offense getting into tempo.
Ole Miss has taken a conservative approach this season, playing to a defense that ranks No. 1 in the country in points allowed per game. Treadwell would be all for going faster.
Not that he’s demanding it or anything. Again, not his style.
“I think it helps a lot,” he said. “It gives Bo a chance to see what’s going on with the defense. With the tempo, it’s so fast, you’ve got to read and then hike the ball. And whatever you’ve seen from that last play-call, you’ve got to go with it. I think it helps us. We have a great defense. We can rely on the defense if we don’t score immediate points.”
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