Commentary -

The Ole Miss Rebels opened the 2007 season with an "as expected" victory over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl. But after leading 23-0 early in the third quarter, the Rebels seemed to lose the momentum of the game and the unexpected took over. Read about it inside.

As expected, the Ole Miss Rebels defeated Memphis in the season opener. That's the bottom line and that's good enough for me.

But that may have been all that turned out the way it was expected in the 23-21 victory.

It was not expected the Rebel running game would be as ineffective as it was, gaining only 74 yards on the ground, even though Memphis zone blitzed and kept a lot of defenders near the line of scrimmage. The Rebel OL was expected to blow them off the ball, regardless of eight in the box most of the time, but rarely did.

It was not expected QB Seth Adams would have to somewhat carry the offense, but he did, completing 19-30 passes for 201 yards, 1 TD and no interceptions. That's not a monster game, by any means, but it was a very good start for a first-timer. Efficient and what the coaches did expect of him.

While the offense only generated one TD and one field goal, they did a decent first-half job - led by Adams in a controlled, safe offense. Unfortunately, Memphis controlled the ball most of the second half and the Rebel offensive opportunities were limited in the second half.

It was not expected that after a good first half on defense - limiting the Tigers to zero points and forcing four turnovers - the Rebels would not be able to do much with Memphis' spread most of the second half. Ole Miss applied a lot of pressure to the Memphis QB in the first half and forced some errors. They didn't seem to rattle him as much in the second half, even though two of their four picks were in the third quarter. He "owned" us in the fourth stanza, which we are quite sure Coach Ed Orgeron was none too pleased about.

It was not expected the Rebels would fumble three times and lose them all. We did not have fumblitis last season with basically the same personnel, but today in a couple of key situations, once on a kickoff return and once at the Memphis 6, we coughed it up.

It was not expected the Rebs would force five turnovers and block a punt, scoring on a 99-yard interception return by CB Dustin Mouzon, who had a terrific game, and tallying another TD on a punt blocked by SS Jamarca Sanford.

The Rebs only had three interceptions all of 2006. They did one better than that today in three quarters. Cap off to DC John Thompson and DB Coach Chris Rippon, who also engineered the punt block as special teams coordinator.

It was not expected that after the game I would be casting my vote for Adams to get the offensive game ball and Mouzon to get the defensive game ball. The QB and CB positions have not been hyped as "strengths" of this team in the preseason, but they were today.

It was not expected the Rebels would look like the team that ran out of gas first, but danged if it didn't with the defense having to defend 96 Tigers offensive plays.

It was not totally expected WR Dexter McCluster would not play, despite rampant rumors since Friday morning. Coach O has not discussed his injury yet, but he did discuss that Dex was sorely missed in the offense.

As expected, the Rebels have work to do between game 1 and game 2. Some tightening up here, some sharpening there, but nothing that can't be corrected.

We know, we think, the OL will perform better. It has to. We know, we think, that with improvement in their play BenJarvus and the rest of the backs will run the ball more effectively, which should open things up more for the surprising - even if it is safe and conservative right now - passing game.

We know, we think, that having seen the spread offense today, the defense will hone in on it better next week and should sustain what they started in the first half today a bit longer.

As expected, the Rebels are 1-0 and await Missouri next Saturday at home. Memphis was a good tuneup game where a lot was revealed - some expected, some unexpected. Some good, some needing work. The coaches now have some current game film to figure more out about the team and tighten some loose bolts.

As expected, Missouri now becomes somewhat of a barometer to the immediate future of the team. They are more on the level of what we will be facing the rest of the way than Memphis was, even though Memphis turned out to be all we wanted - unexpectedly - on this day.

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