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Behind the Box Score: Ole Miss

Ole Miss vs LSU
Note the helpless Reb in the foregorund.
Photo by Chris Parent/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Three hundred and eight.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the one number that mattered this weekend belonged to Kayshon Boutte. 308. As in receiving yards. Until a few years ago, that was the benchmark for a good game for a quarterback, and he did that as a receiver.

Move over Josh Reed.

But before you do, let’s talk about the difference between those two numbers. As time marches on, players get reduced to simple numbers on the page, and we lose the full picture of them as players. Records were meant to be broken, but one of the great things about a record falling is it gives us a chance to recognize the former record holder one last time.

First off, contrary to what you kids may think, LSU was a better passing team in 2001 than in 2020. Max Johnson seems like the second coming of Herb Tyler, a guy whose picture is next to “gritty” in the dictionary before that giant orange monster came along

Damn it. It’s like the Spanish Inquisition.

Anyway, Johnson closed the night with 435 yards on 51 attempts against a miserable Ole Miss defense. In 2001, Rohan Davey threw for 528 yards on 44 attempts against a mediocre Bama team which was at least familiar with the concept of defense.

But on the same night Josh Reed went for 293 on 19 catches, Michael Clayton had 7 catches for 126 yards. Koy Moore was the #2 option, getting 63 yards on 6 catches.

The other two big differences was that Boutte scored 3 times while Reed only caught one touchdown. Boutte was a big play machine while Reed simply gutted Bama by running the bubble screen over and over and over and over. The other? Josh Reed actually fumbled three times in the game, once for a touchback.

Josh Reed is a legend. A total bad ass of a player who rightfully won the Biletnikoff, partly off of the legend of this game. You can still see an older Bama fan’s soul leave their body upon the mere utterance of the words “Josh Reed,” such was his domination. And I also hate our need to always proclaim the most recent event as bigger and better at all times. Our recency bias, particularly against events prior to the internet age, is almost too massive to fully comprehend.

But Boutte had more yards (308-293), more scores (3-1), less turnovers (0-2), less help (Moore-Clayton), all in a less productive offense. And, if we’re being honest, in a more meaningful game, as this was the game that prevented LSU from the ignominy of becoming the first team to have a losing season after winning a national title since the 1967 Michigan St. Spartans. And they weren’t even undisputed champs.

Congrats to Kayshon Boutte, the best SEC receiver ever, for one game at least. That was a performance for the ages.

5. Ole Miss interceptions. LSU added a fumble recovery on the game’s final possession, giving the Tigers a +5 turnover margin on the night. The chances of losing a game with that great of a turnover margin is incredibly slim, but we almost pulled it off. Admittedly, some were of the arm punt variety, but that’s still a horrific night for Matt Corral.

409. Matt Corral’s total offense. OK, after I make fun of the guy for throwing five picks, he did have over 400 yards of total offense: 251 through the air and 158 on the ground. Still, that does not make up for giving the ball away six times, as he was the guy who fumbled, too. In case you’re wondering, he gained 68 yards per turnover. That’s an ugly ratio.

3/3. LSU’s fourth down conversions. Ole Miss went 2 of 3, but LSU had a slightly better ratio, and far more impact. LSU scored a touchdown on ALL THREE of its fourth down conversions, two of them by Kayshon Boutte. Imagine how difference this game is without Ed going for it on fourth down. You lose three touchdowns and the record breaking day.

308. Kayshon Boutte receiving yards. In case you forgot. It was awesome.

.500. Ole Miss games tend to lack the meaning of the games back in the Johnny Vaught er because, well… there just aren’t the same stakes. While this one wasn’t for a title or anything, it was to get the team to 500, which is not nothing. Winning this game mattered, and they found a way to come back and pull it off. It was a gritty win.

Not now, Gritty! Geaux Tigers.