OXFORD, MS - The Ole Miss Rebels (3-5/1-4 SEC) needed something good to happen early in the game at Auburn (6-2/4-2 SEC) in order to take the crowd out of the game and make a statement against the Tigers.
The opportunity Ole Miss was seeking came early on their first possession of the football, after Will Moseley boomed the kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. Auburn's
quarterback threw an incomplete pass on first down, Kenny Irons could only
get four yards on his first carry and McKinley Boykin sacked Brandon Cox for
an eight-yard loss. Auburn punted and was guilty of interfering with Mike Espy catching the football, so the Rebels had the football to start their
first series at the Auburn 40 yard line.
After two Rebel first downs and an
Auburn penalty, the Rebels were looking at first and goal at the Tiger
four-yard line. Micheal Spurlock got two yards on the first down, then watching
on TV it appeared Brandon Jacobs on his first carry of the season got the
ball into the end zone on second down. The play was not reviewed and there was no line
charge on the third down play. A bad toss on fourth and goal at the Auburn
two gave the momentum back to Auburn.
This meant the Tigers had dodged the
initial bullets by the Rebels' defense and offense. Auburn proceeded to
methodically flip-flop the field position and eventually won the game going
The Ole Miss defense played well but was obviously worn down near the
end because they were on the field so much of the game. Auburn held the
football almost 10 minutes longer than the Rebels. The Rebel defense held
the No. 1 offensive team in the SEC to 62 total yards under their seven-game
average going into the Ole Miss game.
DT McKinley Boykin played an excellent
game along with Patrick Willis, Garry Pack and Kelvin Robinson. Corvelli Haynes played gallantly since he got very little practice all week. Willis
had 13 tackles and would have had a few more were he not
wearing the club on his right hand. Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville said after
the game that "the Ole Miss defense is highly underrated."
Auburn showed size is not the most important ingredient on defense as the
Tigers used linebackers that averaged 210 pounds per man to completely shut
down the Ole Miss running game. The Auburn front four kept the Ole Miss
blockers off their linebackers by getting a good push at the line of
scrimmage. Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeran said earlier in the week the
Rebels had to run the football on Auburn in order to have a chance to win.
It didn't happen, the Rebels' offense managed only 23 yards rushing on 27
carries. Speed and quickness are not gifts you can coach, Auburn has plenty
of both on defense. Good coaching shows players how to more effectively use
Offensively, the Tigers used trickery to their advantage against an
aggressive Rebel defense. The first Tiger touchdown came off a fake end
around run as Courtney Taylor sold the run, then pulled up and lobbed the
28-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu on the fourth play of the second
quarter. Rebel corner back Travis Johnson read the handoff to Taylor as a
run, then could not get back quick enough to cover the 6-2 Aromashodu.
Auburn quarterback, Brandon Cox, showed smart judgment a couple of times
when Ole Miss jumped offsides on defense. Facing fourth and goal at the
Rebel one, an Ole Miss defensive lineman jumped into the neutral zone, the
center snapped the ball and Cox calmly tosses a one-yard fade to Obomanu who
outjumped Trumaine McBride for the ball. On the other, Cox threw a 15-yard fade and
the Rebel defender interfered for a penalty first down.
Ole Miss had one more opportunity to make a game of it early in the second
quarter when Auburn punt returner Tre Smith fumbled a Rob Park punt deep
in Auburn territory. The Rebels got the football, trailing 7-0, at the
Tigers' 28. Mico McSwain got a quick seven yards, Spurlock threw an
incomplete pass and Antonio Turner was gobbled up for a five-yard loss. Matt Hinkle came in and drilled a 43-yard field goal right down the middle. Auburn
countered with two field goals of their own, the last one a gift compliments
of a poorly thrown third down Spurlock pass that was intercepted.
Trailing 13-3 at halftime, the Rebel offense got the ball to start the
second half with a chance to make a comeback and claw their way back into
the game. Auburn said no way, they loaded up the box and dared Micheal
Spurlock to beat them by throwing the football. It was three plays and out
for the Rebel offense and the outcome became a matter of time.
got his first opportunity to play this season on the Rebels' first
possession of the fourth quarter. It appeared Flatt gave the offense some
spark as he managed to complete 11-of-17 passes for 81 yards on four
offensive possessions. Robert Lane didn't have much impact on the game
although he played quite a bit at fullback/H-back and at tight end. Auburn
is an excellent tackling team and they kept McSwain bottled up all game.
Irons showed why he is leading the SEC in rushing, finishing with 101 yards
on 32 carries. He runs hard with a low center of gravity and excellent leg
Auburn showed why they lead the SEC in third down conversions (48.7%) as
they converted on 8-of-17 (47%) on the afternoon. The Rebels could only
manage 4-of-15 third down attempts. Coach Ed Orgeron nailed it in his
post-game radio comments. He said the Rebels "didn't take care of the
football, didn't make plays when needed, got beat on the corners and this
team has to get better if they are going to win games."
Without some push from the offensive line, it is impossible to run the
football, get adequate pass protection and play-action passes do not fool
anyone. The off week will be good for the Rebels. It will give them a chance
to regroup, evaluate what they are doing, especially on offense, and see if
they can make some positive changes as they enter the final three-game
stretch of the regular season.
The Rebels must win out to be bowl eligible,
so the seniors have to decide if they are going to lead this team or step
aside for younger guys to play the remaining games against Arkansas, LSU and
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