Rebels rack up a 27-19 SEC road win over Auburn on The Plains

AUBURN, Ala. - It's been over a decade since the Rebels have been able to take home a victory from The Plains, but the 2015 Ole Miss squad, while not perfect, took a hard-fought 27-19 win and the Rebel coordinators, Dan Werner and Dave Wommack, could not be happier.

Both coordinators admitted there are "things to clean up," but the object of the game is to score more points than the other team, which, on the road in the SEC, is easier said than done.

Fortunately, the Rebels, who regained their mojo and confidence a week ago in Oxford in a victory over Texas A&M, did not let some minor hiccups upset the apple cart and they were able to do what their coaches preach to them daily - play the next play with focus - for the big 27-19 win over Auburn, the first time Ole Miss has won here since Eli Manning was a senior, 2003.

"We knew this would be a fist fight," said Werner. "I don't care what their defensive stats say, we recruited almost all of their players. We know they are good and when they got Carl Lawson back, it was like us getting Laremy Tunsil back, a shot in the arm. We knew this was going to be a last-man-standing kind of game.

"To win on the road in the SEC, here, the way we battled, I love it. When we really needed points, we got them. When we needed a run, except for once, we got it. When we needed a completion, for the most part, we got it. It wasn't a great game, but it was pretty good and a win. In the second half, when we kind of came a little more alive, we asked Chad (Kelly) what he liked. He told us and we waited on the right looks to call some plays he felt comfortable with. It worked out well."

The Rebels racked up 558 yards on 91 plays and dominated the time of possession 3:30 to 26:30 mainly because they rushed for 156 yards, keeping the defense honest, Kelly was 33-51 for 381 yards and Quon Treadwell caught 7 balls for 114 yards and a TD and threw a pass for 21 yards.

"We always tell Chad if Quon gets single coverage, throw it his way. Auburn went with two high safeties in the first half so we ran the ball pretty effectively. In the second half, they had to bring a safety down and that left Quon in single coverage. Chad listened, threw it his way and Laquon made plays for us, but that's what he does," said Dan. "Derrick Jones also made a nice TD catch and DeMore'ea Stringfellow had 8 catches and a big day.

"Running the ball - which is a credit to the offensive line, is what opened it all up and made Auburn adjust their defense. Credit to Jaylen Walton and Akeem Judd, who ran hard and made things happen when their numbers were called."

Werner, Hugh Freze said, called "80%" of the plays, up from 66% last week, but Dan said it's still a collaboration with him, Freeze and Matt Luke.

"We are a team. We do it together, as a staff. I love it this way - three heads are better than one," Dan noted. "I have been pretty stubborn about the run game the last couple of weeks and I can see it paying off. If you are going to be a really good football team, you have to be able to run the ball some. If you think you are just going to throw for 500 yards and forget the run, you aren't going to win. We are starting to get things going in the run game enough.

"Laremy Tunsil being back is a big part of it. Also, we settled in on a few things we like and we are geting more comfortable with it up front and with our backs. Today, we went more with misdirection plays because we went with zone plays last week and they were waiting on those. We wanted to mess with their eyes, which I think we did. The only thing we have to do now is to clean up our third and short and fourth and short stuff. We are still struggling there. When we do that, we will be a really good offense."

Werner said he can see the Rebs starting to get their confidence back after a couple of bad weeks and now two winning ones.

"I told our guys after the game today, if we would cut out some dumb penalties and silly mistakes, and find something on short yardaage, we can be really, really good. That's our plan moving forward. Meanwhile, I think the kids have confidence, which is easier to build on," Dan closed. 

Wommack's side of the ball gave up some explosive plays, but didn't let Auburn ring the TD bell but once, on an explosive touchdown to Ricardo Louis of 47 yards.

"First and foremost, we won," said Dave. "I hated we gave us some of those big plays because really the game shouldn't have been as close as it was, but we survived the storm. I'm telling you - it's hard to come in here and win and it's unbelievably hard to win here and at Tuscaloosa. Has that ever been done at Ole Miss in the same year?"

Wommack's crew held Auburn's run game to 125 yards on 41 carries, a very good day's work.

"We had some good gap schemes and getting Robert (Nkemdiche) back and having C.J. Johnson back in stride has really helped our cause," Dave continued. "I can see a difference in confidence now. In the Memphis game, when we gave up an explosive play, they went on and scored with little resistance from us. We had a come to Jesus meeting after that game on Sunday and this team has been different ever since.

"The seniors stepped up and spoke and then they acted on it. It was not just words."

Wommack felt the D-Line basically controlled the game.

"Robert, D.J. Jones, Woody (Hamilton) and a fast-emerging Breeland Speaks is pretty formidable, definitely the strength of our defense," he stated. "Also, we have been able to generate more pressure with our front four, but what won this game from a defensive perspective was when we bowed our necks when Auburn got in the Red Zone."

For a couple of weeks, the Rebels had a hard time getting off the field on third downs. Auburn was a paltry 2-15 on third downs, a super effort by the Rebels.

"Thank goodnes. That has been an issue until last week against A&M. We turned it around,for now at least, on third downs and that's huge for us," he closed. "If we can get these big plays eliminated or minimized, good things will happen.

"In the meantime, I will take this win and move on as happy as I can be."


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