Predictable

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK - There's a fine line between winning and losing in the SEC. On this day, the Rebels didn't get near the line as turnovers, mistakes, penalties, and a little bit of Arkansas, sent the Rebels to a predictable, costly loss.

This one is easy to analyze.

And it's not going to take a lot of words.

Rebel Coach Hugh Freeze, after the Rebels were soundly beaten 30-0 here Saturday night, said he had a feeling gnawing at him all week that his team was not as tuned in and focused as he would have liked.

His hunch must have been correct, but this one was about more than feeling.

It was about tangible evidence as well.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding and this pudding, unsavory as it is, was six turnovers by the Ole Miss offense, a defense that had to play with its back against the wall most of the night and a couple of special teams snafus.

"Coach Freeze usually has the right feel, but I am more analytical and my analysis is that we had six turnovers and two or three of them were in our territory and two of them were interceptions in the end zone when we were going in to score," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "The two picks in the end zone were killers. If we could have gotten on the board and gotten a little momentum going, who knows what could have happened?"

Werner's bottom line was to the point.

"If you protect the football, the way we play defense, we have a chance to win every game. It's really that simple," he said. "Today, we didn't do that, for whatever reason.

"That's something we are really going to have to hone in on this week as we get ready for the Egg Bowl. We have not done this all year and for it to pop up now is kind of baffling."

The Rebel offense continues to put up anemic rushing yards, but that did not surprise Werner against the Hog defense.

"They only gave up 36 yards rushing to LSU last week and that's what LSU does. It's all they do," he continued. "Arkansas is a good team. We knew if would be tough to run it today, but we felt like we could come in here and throw it effectively. We did at times, but we didn't protect the ball and we had some key drops."

The Rebs ran the ball 33 times for 63 yards, once again, against a solid defense, less than two yards a carry. Bo Wallace did throw for 235 yards and became the all-time total offense leader at Ole Miss, but the guess here is that he would have traded that in for a performance where he didn't have four turnovers - two fumbles and two picks - and left with a bum ankle.

"He's a competitor and he wanted to go back in the game after he got hurt, but I have to believe he was affected after he was hurt," Dan noted.

Moving forward, Dan believes in the Rebel team.

"We have a rivalry game coming up. Our kids will be ready to play. I know their character and they will get back to a high level of play in a hurry," he closed.

DC Dave Wommack had a strange feeling after the game.

He wasn't really dissatisfied with the way the Rebel defense played, holding Arkansas to 311 yards of total offense, but at the same time, he knows it's a team game and he feels like the Reb defense was just as responsible for the one-sided loss.

"Our kids played extremely hard and did some great things at times. We had some great stops," he said, "but this is a team game and no matter what position we are put in, we have to stop the opposing offense.

"Arkansas did some things on second down in the first quarter that gave us trouble and we gave up their first TD on their first possession in three quick plays. Other than that, I thought we hung with them all night after we made some adjustments."

Field position was tough on the Ole Miss defense, as Wommack conceded.

"It was difficult, for sure, but we have a job to do and that't to keep them off the board, no matter the situation. We just didn't set the early tempo very well. After that, we did OK, but the 17-0 first quarter deficit put the whole team in a bind," he explained. "We emphasized that Arkansas was a first-half team, but they jumped on us anyway.

"And while I felt we adjusted and held them down pretty good, it doesn't feel that way, bottom line."

Dave has no doubt the Rebels will rebound from this game and get ready for Mississippi State next Saturday.

"I love our guys. I know what they are made of," he closed. "I know what they stand for and how hard they have worked. I hurt for them because they have been so close," he closed. "I still feel like this team, despite the difficult loss tonight, is ahead of schedule and I couldn't be more proud of them.

"They will move on and get ready for the Egg Bowl. We have a lot of competitors on this team and I think in some ways, it may sound crazy, this will help us moving forward."

After all was said and done, and explanations given, it was still crystal clear.

With the way the Rebels played, overall, the outcome was predictable.


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