It wasn’t great, but at least it was better than last year I guess?
Game Recap in Three Sentences
A 7-point game at the half and again midway through the fourth quarter, Ole Miss pulled away with three straight touchdown drives in the final 7 minutes.
Haynes King again proved his value, throwing for 307 yards and 2 TDs while adding a rushing TD as well.
The offense looked decent for much of the game, but the defense fell apart as the game went on and ended up conceding 550 offensive yards to the Rebels.
Above The Line of the Week
- Haynes King. I continue to be impressed with what he’s been able to do, this time against a very solid opponent.
- North Carolina barbecue. I was at a wedding this weekend in a town that was celebrating Hog Day and boy did I have a nice time.
- Signs of life on offense. They didn’t amount to many points, but six drives went over 50 yards and the two long drives of 90 and 78 yards were awesome.
Unformed Thought of the Week
We currently have the fewest penalties in the country at just five through three games for a grand total of 65 penalty yards. Against Ole Miss we committed zero. That current rate of 1.7 penalties/game is an incredible improvement thus far over the Collins era:
- 2022: 5.8 penalties/game
- 2021: 6.1 penalties/game
- 2020: 8.9 penalties/game
- 2019: 4.8 penalties/game
5 Star (7 Star, 5 Star) Developmental Program Haiku of the Week
Improvement I guess?
Can we find a defense please
Special teams is back
I Would Like a Defense Please
Ole Miss punted once all evening. Only two of their other drives didn’t end in scores: one of those was a failed 4th down conversion on our 5 yard line and the other was a blocked field goal. Obviously the Rebs have a potent offense, but being a hair’s breadth away from giving up a score on 10 drives is no way to be a successful program. It’s even more maddening that the vast majority of their offensive success came on big plays in the fourth quarter: they scored on all four of their late drives and three of them only took two plays and less than a minute. That’s inexcusable and raises several large red flags about the coaching and conditioning staff.
There are three major stats to point to here:
- 7 tackles for loss (dead last in the country)
- 1 sack (dead last in the country)
- 7.2 opponent yards-per-play (130th/133)
Simply put, offenses can do nearly whatever they want against us. Also keep in mind that these stats include a game against an inferior FCS team that still hit us for 4.8 yards per play. Is it too much to ask for even an average defense? The talent level is there, so I’m left to question the coaching.
The offense has been a pleasant surprise so far but the defense has been an enormous let down. Our margins are razor thin this year; any hope of getting to six wins and making a bowl game starts and ends with our ability to limit opponents to less than 30 points. If nothing changes then teams like Miami and North Carolina are going to absolutely torch us. Even middling offenses like Wake, Clemson, or Syracuse look like they could put up 35 on us and our offense is going to be hard-pressed to keep up.
Up next is Wake Forest (9/23, 6:30pm) (on the CW, lol). This is a bit of a weird matchup. Wake sits at 3-0 but hasn’t looked very good doing it. They struggled with Old Dominion this week and their games against Vandy and Elon were less than inspiring. Wake opened as 7 point favorites but that quickly dwindled down to 3.5 on Monday. As far as I’m concerned this is a very winnable game, though it’s likely going to come down to whether our defense can get one or two important stops.