Coordinators: Latina calls O production 'pitiful'

Despite a spark of decent play in the second half when Ethan Flatt replaced starter Micheal Spurlock at QB, Offensive Coordinator John Latina said the bottom line is points, something woefully lacking thus far.

"We were pitiful on offense," said Latina. "If you don't score points in this league, you get beat. It's that simple. For our entire tenure at Ole Miss, we have been able to score points, but we aren't doing it now and that is quite disturbing.

"You try to do three things on offense - possess the ball, don't turn the ball over and score. We are only doing one - limiting turnovers - right now, and that's the bottom line."

Recapping can be a painful thing sometimes, but in case anyone has forgotten, the Rebs have a grand total of 20 points in eight quarters. That's a paltry 10 points a game average with an offense used to scoring about 25 points a game in the David Cutcliffe era. And, unfortunately, these efforts weren't against great defenses.

"Alabama did a nice job, but we don't have any excuses for the way we are playing right now. We are inconsistent and ineffective," Lats continued. "They blitzed more from the secondary than they did in the first game, but we were prepared for that. They didn't have to against Utah State, so why show it? They hurt us with the safety blitz on the turnover deep in our territory in the first half. That was poor execution on our part and good execution on theirs, but nothing we hadn't gone over and nothing we weren't prepared for, or thought we were."

Early in the game, mistakes from the left tackle slot hurt the offense badly. Freshman Darryl Harris was playing for injured Bobby Harris (ankle) and he did not fare well, as Latina explains.

"Darryl's first time in a hostile environment was not a good one. We had a key holding that negated a nice gain and a motion penalty," said Latina. "Darryl is going to be a really good player. He has great heart and character, but inexperience did him in tonight. We missed Bobby.

"Certainly, Darryl wasn't the only one not executing, but those errors stand out."

The Rebs eventually moved Marcus Johnson from RG to RT, Tre' Stallings from RT to LT and moved Ryan Jones up to RG in place of Johnson.

When Latina discussed execution, it was apparent the QB slot was not getting the job done.

"Coach Cutcliffe and (QB) Coach (Kurt) Roper discussed a change and made one," said Lats. "We moved the ball some with Ethan in there, but I'll be honest, until I see the films I won't know how he did. I was too busy watching the line and trying to patch things up there."

A big fact in the game, from Latina's viewpoint, was not being able to capitalize early on two Alabama turnovers in Tide territory, a fumble by a Bama RB that led to a missed field goal and a fumbled punt return covered by DS Sidney McLaurin that led to a fake field goal pooch punt by Jonathan Nichols.

"When you are not playing very well, you need a spark to get things going. The defense provided us with two sparks, but we did not take advantage of the opportunties," he explained. "You have to cash those in, especially when you are struggling. You have to seize those or they come back to haunt you. We had our chances and did nothing with them. The chance was there for the momentum to change in our direction and to give us some confidence, but we didn't get it done. The momentum kept going the other way as a result."

Latina was not dissatisfied with the running game, for the most part, but he's searching for some big plays out of it.

"We got four or five yards a lot of times, but we haven't been a threat for the 15 or 20 yarders. We have to get to that to take some pressure off our passing game. The running game is not bad, but it's not explosive either and we need some explosiveness there," he ended. "We'll get where we need to go, but we are struggling right now."

Defensive Coordinator's landscape was different. The Rebs started out pretty good, but fizzled in the second half.

"We were decent in the first half. Alabama's first TD was penalty-aided when we lost penalty discipline. We had a late hit on the quarterback and a pass interference, I believe," he began. "Then the second TD came on a turnover at our 7 or 8. Consequently, when we went in to the locker room at halftime, I felt OK.

"We were in the right spots at the right times and were holding our own. I felt we were playing hard and producing, for the most part."

But in the second half, the Rebs gave up some inopportune and big running plays that defeated their cause defensively.

"All of a sudden, some runs started popping out of there. Alabama was not giving us any new blocking schemes, we just had some execution problems," he noted. "Their last TD was a long run where we simply did not execute some base things. SS Kelvin Robinson had a big hit on a Bama punt return and I think he was playing kind of fuzzy. It was like he was knocked out on his feet.

"But the bottom line in the second half is that we didn't stop the run. And if you don't stop the run, you get your ass beat."

He said the Alabama game was different than the Memphis game.

"Alabama has a different class of athlete, especially up front. It was like moving up a weight classification in boxing," he continued. "We had three defensive tackles out (Micheal Bozeman, Chris Herring, Daniel Booth) and all their double teams started taking a toll on us. We lost our aggression and ability to keep fresh people in there.

"I think the guys who were playing did all they could, but they got worn down at the end."

If there was a bright side to the loss, it was the playing time afforded some of the younger players: LB Garry Pack, DE Corey Mills, DE Brandon Jenkins, DT Jeremy Garrett and JUCO transfer Larry Kendrick.

"All of those guys have caught our eye in practice and are starting to understand where they fit in the scheme and in the different calls," Driesbach closed. "They are doing good things in practice so we are going to play them more and more as they progress."

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