A Whisker Away

Last week, the Rebels lost a low-scoring 10-7 game to LSU. This week, a high-scoring offensive game with Auburn slipped through their fingers, literally, as the Tigers escaped with a 35-31 hard-fought win.

In a bit of role reversal, with the Rebels depending on the offense instead of the defense, Ole Miss lost 35-31 to Auburn in a game where the two teams combined or 999 yards - 507 by Auburn, 492 by Ole Miss.

Even though Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace had a fantastic day, completing 28-40 passes for 341 yards and a pair of TDs and rushed for 61 yards and a score, there's a play he'd like back - a fumble inside the Tiger five while he was squirming for extra yards with under seven minutes to go in the game.

"Bo played well and guys made plays for him. He threw the ball well, and he played well enough to win, but we just had a couple of touch breaks," said OC Dan Werner. "On the fumble, he was trying to get the first down. He reached out with the ball. When you do that, you have to make sure you protect it. If he hadn't been laying on top of an Auburn defender, he would have been down and it wouldn't have been a fumble.

"It just seemed like everything that could happen for us o lose that game did happen."

WR Laquon Treadwell looked to be unstoppable, with 10 catches for 103 yards and a score, and was heading for the winning TD before he was hit hard from two directions and coughed up the ball going in.

"He was taking the game over, so we kept going to him," said Werner. "He broke a couple of tackles on that play, but he got rolled up. It's a shame, not just because he didn't score, but because we have probably lost him for the year to a lower leg injury.

"He's down, obviously and he played the best game I have ever seen him play. I visited with him and told him he is a warrior and he will bounce back. That's what warriors do. It will be tough - he's a leader and a great player, but someone will have to step up, and they will. We are sad, I hate it for him, but he understands we have to keep going."

Werner said this one was hard to swallow.

"We are hurting. We are all competitors and any time you have a game in your grasp and let it get away due to some tiny little things and being inches away, it stings, really stings," he closed. "I've never had one get away like this before, or been a part of one like this.

"It was a brutal ending. To lose the game and a great player on one play has never happened to me before, but we will rebound. This team has a lot of character. I think they proved that, again, tonight."

DC Dave Wommack sounded as frustrated as he has been in a long time, at least this year, after the game.

"It was very frustrating. To me it means we didn't do a good enough job of coaching," he concluded. "The TD they scored before the half was really frustrating. We were supposed to have a go over the top on that play and our guy just wasn't there. If you don't execute, you don't win."

Auburn rushed for 253 yards on the night and were opportunistic with their passing attack that tallied 254 yards.

"I was surprised and disappointed they were able to run the ball as effectively as they did," he continued. "Auburn does a great job and they are difficult to scheme, but I thought we had a good plan going in.

"They did a great job of executing and distracting our guys from the way we needed to fit and they made plays."

Auburn uses a lot of different formations and movement to disguise four or five basic plays. They are essentially the same plays, but the looks are used as deception to confuse.

"We didn't fit very good last week against LSU, but that was a different deal. Tonight, Auburn gets you moving with their motion, which can be difficult. We just didn't execute the way we needed to," he noted. "We didn't a very good job with Nick Marshall's fakes. We ended up chasing too much on the back end of our defense. That's a tough lesson to learn. Again, that goes back to me - I'm the one coaching them.

"I knew it would take a little time to catch on to what they were doing, but after their first score we settled in pretty good. Then the bubble burst in the second half and we just couldn't seem to get back settled in."

The Rebels lost SS Trae Elston in the first half to injury, leaving Chief Brown, just off the injured list and playing for the first time this year, in the spotlight.

"I hated losing Trae. He has had most of the snaps this year. I worked Chief at FS all week, not SS, but we had to put him in there and he struggled, so we had to move Mike Hilton, who had no SS reps in practice this week, there and it was just tough all the way around," Wommack explained.

Wommack believes the Rebels will bounce back and show their pride, but he admits it will be hard.

"We had some real high hopes going into this game and played well enough to win. This has been a very difficult two games. Defensively, until tonight, we have played well, but this one got away from us," he closed. "We will finish this season off strong. We still have a lot to play for. As crazy as this league is, you never know what is going to happen."

A whisker away. . . .

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