If I told you Monday that of last week that against Ole Miss we would have 470 yards and 43 offensive points; I think you would have laughed at me all the way up till kickoff. Hello offense, glad we found you. Unfortunately, it's too bad it couldn't have been a sound whipping (though, whoever expects that against Ole Miss at this point is out of their basket). For literally the first time all year I can say this and it not be a joke: We moved the ball at will for an entire game. I've stated my feelings on the matter in recent weeks, but this game more than ever cemented that there's no reason to play Jarrett Lee any longer, Jordan Jefferson has taken ahold of the starting job. It appears the light has finally come on. For the previous 2 1/2 years we've seen Jefferson survive on athleticism (he's a talented guy, after all). Recently, we've seen him become a quarterback. I'm not sure if he did, but I hope he got game ball. Jefferson played his ass off yesterday.
And that was the good news from Saturday... the bad after the jump...
Early in the 2nd half, my buddy, who is in law school, shot me a text and asked me to text him if the game was interesting with six minutes to go. My response? "It's two of the craziest/dumbest coaches in college football... it's going to be interesting." Now, I don't think Les is stupid, but in all likelihood Houston Nutt is. Both have a reputation for being gamblers. Both are pretty routinely mocked by talking heads. I think Miles is a superior coach, but the point is, count on this game to be close, particularly with the two coaches involved.
I tip my hat to Jeremiah Masoli and the Ole Miss offense, not just for playing a great game, but for getting up off the mat after an early turnover that seemed damning. In most games this year our defense has ranged from anywhere to very good to downright dominant. But against both of the spread rushing offenses we faced, we've greatly struggled. Issues with tackling persisted in both games. What throws me for a loop is that the defense we throw out is undersized and fast, yet we've contained downhill, traditional power running attacks really well. But the two offenses which used more "speed" approaches (don't read this to say "finesse" as both are very physical), have scorched us on the ground. We've struggled to bottle up speed sweeps and QB option plays whether they be zone read, or midline veer. It's a defensive weakness and one I shutter to think about in a matchup against Oregon next season.
Yet, one thing sticks with me from an episode of Hard Knocks this season. Speaking to his team, Rex Ryan commented during film review that this is how we do things, "when the defense doesn't show up the offense will pick them up." I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea... it's a team effort. It's disappointing that the offense didn't play well, but damn promising that the offense was able to rise up and win a game for us. It's something we've been waiting for all year.
A Few Other Notes:
-Kudos to the Seniors and probably Patrick Peterson, who are playing their final games in Tiger Stadium.
-Our backfield is something else. Zero seniors, the the most talented guys are arguably the youngest (Ford, Ware, not to mentioned Hilliard and Hill coming in next year).
-This may well have been Michael Ford's breakout game. Everyone's preseason fantasies are finally coming true.
-Good to see Mr. Randle rise up and make a huge play yesterday.
-Chris Tolliver sighting, everyone. Good to see him finally emerging.
-The pass play to Clement, despite being ridiculously called "cute" was a beautiful play. Good Gary is fun to watch.
-Offense was still wretched on third down last night.
-We averaged 12.3 yards per pass. Big plays were to be had in the passing game and we took them.
-Maybe the presence of Zach Mettenberger was all the motivation Jefferson needed to prove his worth this week.
-10 wins. Some said it would never be repeated. Some said we wouldn't beat Alabama or Florida again, much less in the same season. Hats off to Coach Miles and this damn strong team.