Commentary: Dead wrong on this game

It's the smart thing to sleep on a loss like the 20-13 setback the Rebs suffered at the hands of the Memphis Tigers before writing a column, but nobody ever accused this writer of being smart.

Expectations can be good, unless they are wrong. In regard to the Ole Miss-Memphis matchup, mine were wrong, dead wrong.

I expected the Rebels to open up a can of whup-ass on the Tiger defense and run for a minimum of 150 yards, with subconscious thoughts of a 200-plus rushing game. The end Reb tally was 33 rushes for 58 paltry yards, less than two yards a carry, but those numbers were skewed by a couple of big sacks on QB Micheal Spurlock. Shocking, but not nearly as shocking as the Rebs' getting away from the running game as much as they did when they had a back - Vashon Pearson - who was gaining over 4 yards a carry. Memphis gave the ball to talented TB De'Angelo Williams 37 times and he only averaged 3.2 yards a crack. One has to wonder why Pearson, against a "soft" approach by the Memphis defense designed to contain Spurlock, wasn't given the same opportunity.

I expected the Rebels to get some sort of pressure on Memphis QB Danny Wimprine, especially on third-and-long situations. Wimprine was rarely touched and consequently was mostly responsible for converting 8-18 third downs. The Rebs, despite a pretty good defensive effort against a veteran offense, couldn't get themselves off the field at the most critical times due to that lack of pressure. While it is hard to point a finger at the defense for their overall results, that one factor scars their performance.

I expected revenge, the home field advantage, a packed house and all the intangibles to be on the Rebs' side. From my cheap seat, the Rebs played one of the worst games they have put together in the David Cutcliffe era, at the absolute worst time. From my perspective, the Tigers took the fight to the Rebs early in the game and set the tone for the whole evening, gaining confidence as they went. That wasn't the Rebel team I had seen sweat and bleed since February. Where that team is, I don't know, but they better show up in a hurry. Alabama will be better than freakin' Memphis. Hell, just about everyone we face will be better than freakin' Memphis. And I mean no disrespect when I say that, it's just that they are, well, freakin' Memphis.

I expected to see the same Micheal Spurlock that had been razor sharp the last 10 days heading into the opener. Instead, Micheal reverted back to the inconsistency that plagued him in early August, pressing and missing open opportunties. Granted it was his first start and everyone has to go through growing pains, but you could kind of sense from the start he wasn't "on." Some of that was also expected, which begs the answer to a previous question - why not run the ball more?

I expected the Ole Miss offense to have its way with a Memphis defense that, while fast, was inexperienced up front. Ole Miss had but 240 yards of total offense, making the Tigers, and Tiger DC Joe Lee Dunn, look like world-beaters and geniuses.

I expected the sluggish Rebs to come to life in the second half after a ho-hum first half that, but for a tremendous goalline stand, very easily could have been a 17-3 Tiger lead at intermission. While the lead the Tigers had was never insurmountable, I never sensed Memphis not feeling in control of the outcome.

I expected a fair shake from the Conference USA officials. Silly, naive' boy that I am. While I refuse to take any credit from the Tigers, or blame from the Rebels, the officiating was a crock, especially on CB Trumaine McBride, who played a whale of a game in his first start. It's a shame for someone to play that well and get absolutely gutted by two or three cheap calls. Incidental contact, at the most. No calls in the SEC, for sure. I hope those calls don't temper Trumaine's aggressiveness in the future. He's a real talent that doesn't need to become passive or gunshy.

I expected the Rebs to be stingier up the middle in pass defense. Some kid from Corinth, MS, named Chris Kelley caught three big passes over the middle for 73 yards, virtually uncontested. Blow me down.

I expected a win. I predicted a win. I was 100% sure of a win.

I expect to wake up Sunday morning and this was all a dream. A real bad one.

I expect the Rebs to rebound from this and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa next week. We lost to Memphis last year and went on to win 10 games, a share of the SEC West and the Cotton Bowl. I expect a comeback, I just didn't think we'd have to come back after the game with Memphis.

I expect to be called out for all my expectations. Despite all the pregame talk by Memphis, they couldn't hold a candle to my cockiness that the Rebs would win.

I expect 40 lashes with a wet noodle. I deserve them and so do the Rebs.

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