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Reb coordinators dial up the right stuff in second half versus the Aggies

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - At halftime, trailing 21-6, Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze said he was "furious" with what had transpired, but he and his staff and his team responded in the second half to defeat Texas A&M 29-28 with a huge, needed comeback win to level their record at 5-5.

Postgame, a drenched from sweat Hugh Freeze said he was not a happy man at halftime of the game with Texas A&M here, won by the Rebels 29-28, but only after a comeback from a 21-6 halftime deficit.

"We just seem to keep making the same mistakes over and over and I was furious, but we collected ourselves, changed a few things and came out in the second half and executed. The seniors told me at halftime that they were going to play hard for 60 minutes and make something good happen and they did just that," he said.

The offense was under the direction of freshman Quarterback Shea Patterson, who only threw for 92 yards in the first half and only ran for 17.

"He was as calm as you could expect, but the speed of the game got to him a little," said OC Dan Werner. "At halftime, he settled down and then he turned it loose in the second half."

Patterson passed for 246 yards in the second half and ran for another 50 or so in leading the comeback.

"We started slowly, but all of a sudden things started clicking and he started making all the right reads and even when he didn't make the right reads, he beat them with his feet," said Dan. "He is an amazing young player and it is going to be fun watching him play and watching him grow.

"You never know what to expect from a young quarterback making his first start, especially in this kind of hostile environment, but he has shown it in practice and I know he is capable. He was really poised in the second half. He just kept battling and battling. He made simple mistakes in the first half and he knew it."

The Rebels balanced things up in the second half too and it kept A&M's defense honest.

"The job Coach (Matt) Luke has done with that beat up offensive line is amazing and our backs ran really hard. We got downhill more tonight and stuck with the run," Werner said. "We kept calling the same play over and over. If they loaded the box, we'd throw it, and we got pretty good protection most of the night. If they dropped out guys and had a five-man box, we'd run it and our blocking was good.

"The 21-yard TD run by Akeem Judd was an RPO where they put five in the box and we scored. The 32-yard pass from Shea to Van Jefferson for our last TD was seven in the box, but the same play call."

As much of the story as the offense, and Patterson, however, was the job the defense did in the second half holding A&M to one score and nothing in the third quarter.

"God is good all the time," said a smiling DC Dave Wommack. "We had a couple of explosive plays in the first half that shouldn't have happened, and I hate that, but I love the way our kids battled and came back in the second half.

"That was the best half we have played all year against a quality offense. We have not been real good in the second half for most of this year, but the last two weeks we have been very good in the second half."

Dave said there were very few changes schematically.

"We checked a couple of things based on what they were doing and their formations, but we didn't really change a lot. We just executed," he continued. "We really needed something good to happen and it did."

Wommack's keys were two-fold - pretty much stopping A&M's run (129 yards on the night) and stopping the explosive plays.

"They had a couple of quarterback scrambles that hurt us in the first half, but nothing in the second half," Wommack stated. "The blown coverages are on me. They are my responsibility. They are my guys and when they mess up it is my fault.

"Look, it's just who I am, It is my responsibility to put them in the right places to make plays and to make adjustments. When the kids don't get what I am teaching or there is a disconnect there, it is on me. Not the kids."

But tonight, "it" - the win - is on everyone - an excellent defensive half to give the offense a chance, a balanced offense that had A&M's number in the fourth quarter where they scored 23 of their 29 points and a freshman quarterback shocking the home crowd with a savvy reserved for veterans.

"We win as a team and lose as a team," said Coach Hugh Freeze. "We needed this one badly and the team came through - everyone."

Indeed.


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