"Eddie, I don't know if I would be as surprised if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet." - Clark Griswald.
The Ole Miss Rebels did not invent new ways to lose to Vanderbilt, but they may have used every known way to do so - in one game.
Teams have fumbled away games before. Teams have thrown multiple interceptions before. Teams have been penalized a lot before. Teams have shanked punts and fumbled punts and missed field goals and so on as long as football has been invented.
But it would be hard to pinpoint a single game where every error known to the sport was made by the same team like the Rebels did against the Commodores.
Gift-wrapped doesn't even come close to describing this one. The Rebs gift-wrapped and delivered this one with a Santa Claus suit on, fake beard and all.
I've been watching college football for nearly 50 years and I can't say I've ever seen anything like it.
"Cleanup in aisle Vaught-Hemingway!"
The oddity is even more glaring when you realize how hard these Ole Miss players prepared and played and how overwhelming the statistics, minus the mistakes, were in favor of Ole Miss.
If you had told me the Rebels would ring up nearly 400 yards of total offense and not score an offensive TD, I would have bet you my house, truck and Harley - if the bank would let you have them heavily mortgaged - that would not happen.
Call me homeless and walking.
If you had told me Jevan Snead was going to throw four interceptions, and was kind of fortunate it wasn't five, in just 25 passing attempts, I would have laughed at you.
The joke would have been on me.
If you had told me Vandy was only going to get 202 yards of total offense against a defense that gave up nearly 400 to Memphis, I would have called you crazy.
The padded wagon would be stopping at my office instead of yours.
If you had told me the Rebs would be up 10-0, would be the benefactors of a turnover deep in Vandy's territory and would be ahead only 10-7 a play or two later, I would have offered to jumped off the West Helena bridge.
You would be dredging for my body in the morning.
If you had told me Saturday morning the Rebels, as focused and intense as they were all week in practice, and as hard as they played in the game, were going to act like they were allergic to the football, I would have bet you a butt naked run across the Grove as a wager.
Call me The Streak.
There's really no other way to say it. The game against Vanderbilt was mind-boggling and a bullseye to the psyche.
Besides the obvious 2-2 record, that could easily be 4-0, where does that leave this team?
Well, Coach Houston Nutt said before the season he was curious to see how this team would react when adversity hit. His curiosity will be satisfied.
The Florida Gators, who some think have a shot at winning the national title, are up next and it just happens to be in a little venue known as The Swamp, a snakepit of college football that knows no equal in rude behavior toward opponents.
So here's the kicker in all of this.
(I was dead wrong about the Vandy game in all aspects, so I'm not risking much credibility here - that's gone.)
I still have a lot of faith in this Ole Miss team even in the immediate aftermath of this newest way to squander victory.
If you can look inside the loss against Vandy - I know, it's next to impossible right now - you will see a much-improved defense that played mostly lights out.
It was particularly pleasing - again, discounting the loss - to see the effectiveness of the second team defense. At times, they appeared to be playing better than the first team with guys like Jerrell Powe, Emmanuel Stephens, Tony Fein, Greg Hardy, Patrick Trahan, and Lawon Scott anchoring things very effectively. That revelation can only help if it continues to cultivate and grow.
The run game was, overall, very effective. The offensive line got better push and was more physical than I have seen in some time in the ground game.
The kickoff return team, below average previously, busted a long one for a TD.
And I know, for sure, Jevan is going to learn from this and rebound with much, much better games.
As hard as it is to sift through all the mistakes, there were some encouraging signs and I refuse to ignore them just four games into the year.
Nobody wants to read this with the taste of this most recent defeat still fresh on our tongues, but this team has enough talent to win games, maybe lots of games.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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