A couple of random early thoughts on Ole Miss

Because the Ole Miss defense came out against Alabama with their safeties playing deep, early on, Lane Kiffin elected to keep things underneath and test the edges.  A lot, in fact.

There was a heavy dose of screen passes and jet sweeps in the 48-43 Crimson Tide win. They drew more than a few groans as the short game yielded minimal returns.

So what were the results?

A total of 13 plays were either screen passes or jet sweeps to receivers. Those plays netted 30 yards. Two produced first downs.

Another, Calvin Ridley’s direct snap late in the first half, went for a touchdown. A screen to running back Damien Harris late in the first half was the longest of the group by covering eight yards. All 12 of the other plays involved either Ridley or ArDarius Stewart.

Five of the 13 were thrown for a loss or no gain. Nine of the 13 were run on the opening two possessions as Alabama ate up clock to attempt two field goals, making the first.

It doesn’t sound particularly productive, yet the Tide kept at it.  Nick Saban explained why.

But Saban said the strategy used to attack the edges opened up the running lanes in the second half when Alabama gained 218 of its 334 rushing yards.

“I think that a lot of the stuff we did in the first half set up some of the things that we did later on,” Saban said. “But I also think that we were really trying to … We thought that we could execute these things. And if you look at them on the film, if we would have blocked them correctly – again, attention to detail and execution – they would have been better plays.

“I think that we were trying to run the ball on the perimeter to see if we could get them tired, which we did. Then we had a lot more direct runs later and played a lot more physical interior line play for us and had success running the ball inside. Sometimes one of these things build on the other. I think that was the plan in the game.”

Alabama played a freshman quarterback against an aggressive Rebel defense.  So will Georgia.  But that’s about where the similarity ends.  Saban’s freshman QB is far more mobile than Jacob Eason.  It may seem counter-intuitive why Alabama didn’t run the ball more in the first half, but, again, Saban claimed that was the deliberate plan.

“They’ve got pretty good speed on defense and they trapped us down pretty good on the edges,” Saban said. “We came back and ran the ball inside off of some of the same motions and the same formations. That’s what you folks don’t sometimes get the grasp of on the jet sweep. Now you’re handing the ball and running a counter the other way and they’re all running out there because you ran the play in the first half, [and]now you bust them on this play. But you all don’t see that. You just see, ‘We ran that play good so why don’t we run it more?’

So, how does that play out this week for Georgia?  It’s hard to say.  You’d think absent a mobile quarterback, Ole Miss would elect to play their safeties back, but there’s the conventional wisdom out there about crowding the line of scrimmage to shut down Nick Chubb that would suggest otherwise.  (Not to mention the friendly invitation a three-tight end/fullback set is to do so.)

Either way, it sounds to me like Isaiah McKenzie and (maybe) Terry Godwin ought to see some involvement in Jim Chaney’s running game plan.  If the Dawgs can open up the Mississippi defense to some inside running in the second half, you’d have to like what that would lead to.  So would Nick Chubb.

On the other side of things, Bill Connelly has some good stuff about Chad Kelly’s Jekyll and Hyde effort against the Tide.

Fun with stats, part 1: Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly had a phenomenal game against Alabama in Oxford on Saturday; not including a period when the game briefly fell into garbage time, the senior completed 15 of 18 passes on standard downs for 297 yards, a lofty average of 15.7 yards per attempt.

Fun with stats, part 2: Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly suffered from severe glitches in Ole Miss’ tight loss to Alabama in Oxford on Saturday. The senior completed only four of 12 passes on passing downs for 58 yards and an interception. His average of 4.8 yards per pass attempt on passing downs meant the Rebels were doomed the moment they fell behind schedule.

This was a game that proved the value of splitting things into standard and passing downs. Against one of the best defenses in the country, Ole Miss was as good as anyone at staying on schedule, managing a 39 percent success rate on standard downs.

But the moment they fell behind, doom followed. They managed only a 15 percent passing-downs success rate, bad even considering the competition. And with the run game nonexistent (Akeem Judd and Eugene Brazley: 18 carries, 55 yards; percentage of carries that gained at least five yards: 11.1), Kelly bore too much pressure to succeed. Ole Miss scored 43 points on the Tide, but offensive struggles were a major reason why a huge lead turned into a huge deficit.

Obvious passing downs are obvious, in other words.  Can Georgia’s defense win its share of first and second downs?  That looks like a pretty big question from here.

58 Comments

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58 responses to “A couple of random early thoughts on Ole Miss

  1. DawgPhan

    Did you know that UGA has a 10 game winning streak against Ole Miss going back to 1997.

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  2. One thing stuck out to me…it was the philosophy of running plays to set up other plays for later in the game. There is the idea of of running certain plays until the D stops you, then trying something else. But it seems as if the Tide took the bigger picture here and ran plays early in the game that would set up plays later in the game for success. I would imagine most offensive coordinators use a blend of these two strategies, depending on how the game goes (a big lead/deficit will change your approach of course).

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    • The other Doug

      or maybe they thought they could have success on the edges if the players executed. At the half they decided that they couldn’t execute and went to plan B.

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      • ASEF

        Or took the half-a-loaf (front 7 tired from chasing side to side) and just ran straight at them.

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      • Yup and it could of been just Saban’s spin instead of a master plan to test the edges in order to soften them up by running up the gut in the second half. Honestly, Saban can spin it anyway he wants to..it actually falls back to an even longer term strategy of out recruit everyone so that you are so deep that you can wear down people with fresh bodies as the game progresses?

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    • One thing to say about Junior is he’s no dummy when it comes to offensive game planning. Can he run an entire football program? The answer is a resounding NO, but the guy knows what he’s doing when he’s calling plays.

      He would be downright scary with a QB like Deshaun Watson who can throw and run equally well and has a good mind for the game.

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  3. sniffer

    I’ve wondered for some time about the discipline of Freezes’ teams. Both sides but particularly on defense, they play loose and free wheeling (to this untrained eye). Kinda like LSU in the past, just not quite as talented.

    Are the Rebels more talented on the defensive line than Missouri? How will Chaney keep Eason upright?

    Worried in Birmingham

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  4. This feels like an awful matchup for UGA. What Ole Miss wants to do on offense is similar to what Mizzou wants to do, but Ole Miss has a better QB and a better group of WRs. If Georgia doesn’t figure out a way to keep the chains moving and bleed clock I don’t see how this ends well.

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    • Yeah – it feels like this game and Florida are match-up nightmares right now.

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      • Not sure the Florida game is a matchup nightmare. The FLA game is scary due to that defense, which is just nasty. But It’s not like Florida has the offensive weapons to light UGA up. That’s what concerns me about Ole Miss. I could see the Rebs hanging 40+ on UGA

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        • Yeah – that’s what I meant with matchup nightmare for Florida. It might not be across the board, but we definitely don’t have an OL that can slow them down whatsoever. Pretty tough to win if you can’t score any points. I could see it going same as last year as bad as special teams is right now.

          I agree with you on Ole Miss. It feels like a game that can get out of hand real quick and Georgia doesn’t have the OL to steady the ship after an early blitzkrieg. I’m hoping the ghost of Jefferson Pilot Sports noon kickoffs of past is on our side.

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          • The 11:00 am kickoff might be a very good thing. Especially after how Ole Miss lost last week. But predicting the mental makeup of college kids is always tough. Ole Miss hasn’t been great against the run, so that gives me some hope. I would like to see UGA run out of the spread look a bit more. Right now it seems the OL is incapable of running out of I-formation.

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            • DawgPhan

              I feel like we are pretty good at getting INTs and the Kelly is pretty good at throwing them.

              Ole Miss can’t run the ball so there should be some opportunities.

              If we can get some turnovers and score off those turnovers we have a chance, just like the other teams that have beaten Ole Miss.

              It might not be the best matchup, but I feel like we will have some chances, just have to do something with them.

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              • Otto

                Ole Miss is likely the worst match up of the year, but there is still hope. Kelly is the silver lining, as he can be so hot or cold. If he is hot watch out (ask the Coke bottle) but he can be both in the same game. INTs against Mizzou give me hope that UGA can get in his head for a rash of INTs.

                Chaney is also willing to call whatever is working, my hope is that he finds something against Ole Miss. If you listen to WSB, at 7:55 when they talk to CKS, it sounds like Sony maybe a bigger part of the game plan. which gives further hope in hitting screens and opening up Eason’s check downs. Sony and McKenzie can both run sweeps.

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              • Agree Ole Miss can’t run the ball, but they don’t even try. Not like OM getting stuffed will hurt their offense. Agree on Kelly throwing picks. He’s a gambler so that helps, but those WRs are so much better than anything UGA will see this year.

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                • I just wonder how much of their struggle running the ball is also a factor of playing FSU and Alabama two of three weeks.

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                  • That’s a legit question, but Ole Miss hasn’t been able to run the ball effectively during Freeze’s tenure. 190 YPG might be a high point. It was 155 two years ago and 183 last year. They prefer to use the short passing game as a running game. It’s pretty effective, too, but I suspect Freeze would prefer to run for 220 and throw off of that.

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  5. Uglydawg

    That’s a pretty exhaustive breakdown, Bluto. Appreciated but scary. It just looks like Old Miss may have more than the Dawgs can cope with..It took everything ‘Bama could muster to beat them, and we don’t have nearly as much mustard. The Jekyll and Hyde description of Chad Kelly is a good one. He has outstanding talent, but sometimes tries to force things and it backfires…but he is very good.
    This game will require CKS and staff coming up with a near perfect game plan, Eason being way, way ahead on the learning/ maturing curve, and old Lady Luck to smile on the Dawgs if they are to get a W.

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  6. ASEF

    I honestly have no clue how the secondary will hold up against Ole Miss’ receivers. Kelly’s really good at finding a physical mismatch play to play and going straight to it – he trusts his receivers to win contested balls, so he throws into a lot of spaces most QBs won’t touch. So – which cover guy does he pick on?

    Ole Miss surrended a 38-6 run to FSU and a 45-6 run to Alabama. The common threads: the pass rush got to Kelly, and the Ole Miss defense couldn’t get its hands on the opposing QB.

    Most encouraging sign: Alabama had 334 yards rushing, 95% of it on 37 carries.

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  7. Mdcgtp

    I think regardless of our offensive strategy that it is safe to say IM16 will be a significant part of the game plan.

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  8. paul

    Interesting commentary by David Wunderlich over at Team Speed Kills http://www.teamspeedkills.com/2016/9/19/12968822/alabama-ole-miss-five-factors-review. Alabama was actually more effective once Ole Miss brought their safeties up and tried to pressure the quarterback despite the fact that they had done a very good job keeping the run in check and preventing big pass plays with their safeties sitting back. So maybe we actually benefit if Ole Miss loads the box like everyone else.

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    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Loading the box is great if it stops the run at the point of attack. But if the runner can get a crack…you better hope you got some fast people that can catch him. That’s essentially what happened in the UNC game for the last touchdown. Kirby craftily put Glambert in, UNC loaded the box knowing there was no pass threat, and somehow – I don’t know, luck? really good blocks? – Nick got loose and the game got sealed. We haven’t done that since then. I wish I knew why. If we could find that again, we’d have a chance in this game with Ole Miss.

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      • Otto

        It would not surprise me if UNC’s front 7 was worse than Nichols, and they are certainly worse than Mizzou and Ole Miss. UGA needs to be effective in the passing game, and perimeter to open up the inside run against Ole Miss.

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        • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

          You are probably right about UNC’s front 7 vs. Ole Miss’ front 7, but Nicholls? Not buying that, even with that big JUCO transfer they had. Watch the video of Nick’s run vs. UNC and look at all the blockers out in front. I think they even pulled Catalina from the LT position.

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  9. Macallanlover

    I don’t recall a game in recent memory where I have less confidence that we will find something to turn the odds our way. Ole Miss is a much better Missouri on defense, and offense, and we were very fortunate to pull a W out of that one, even with a huge TO edge. The QB is much better, the receivers are much better and deeper, the DL and LBs are stronger and more aggressive, and they have proven this against much better competition.

    I have always been a “any given Saturday” proponent but honestly, I would take a 2-3 TD loss with no injuries right now versus what I see coming. And no one wants that to be different more than me, just don’t see an out.

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    • Russ

      Yeah, I can usually visualize how we when pretty much every game (heck, that’s why I think before every season we’re going to win them all). But I have a really hard time finding the path to victory here if the team that played the last two weeks shows up. I’m hoping the last two weeks were an aberration and we can get back to pounding Chubb for 150 or more, and we have Eason throwing for 250-300, we can eek out a win.

      But I fear Ole Miss will put it away in the first half and we don’t have the horses to mount a huge comeback.

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    • Mdcgtp

      OM’s is not physical against the run, and Francis picked apart their secondary. I expect us to get more movement in power running this week, but I also think Kirby and Chaney will be a bit more diverse in how we try to run. My bet is that when we go shotgun/pistol with 3-4 WRs that we will run Nick and Sony a bit more out of those formations than we did last week. More broadly, I expect us to keep throwing long in hopes that Eason and the WRs start making chunk plays. If we can have success, it may push the safeties back, which would open things up for Nick, Sony, and the TEs. I also hope we run some screen passes to Nick to get him to the second level untouched to see if he can break long plays.

      Certainly, they are better than Mizzou, but if we could have picked a team to play to get us ready for Ole Miss, Mizzou is a perfect choice. We should be more acclimated to pace. Our secondary had communications issues that exacerbated their talent short falls, but my hope is that we can clean that up and limit big plays. If we do that, my guess is that we can slow them in the red zone because like Mizzou, they are not a power running team. More broadly, we have to figure out how to get more pressure on the passer or figure out how to bat some passes down.

      I think this a great test for the coaching staff and sets up well for our program. Expectations are low for us nationally. Ole Miss may have their backs to the wall, but they also might look at our film and “relax” a bit relative the hype and focus needed for Bama and FSU. We are still in September, but in early October, you often see wtf efforts from teams that faced big games early on. Think about our 2007 effort against UT, where we had played “program” games against Okie State and Bama, and put a lot of energy into avoiding the let down game against Ole Miss after Bama. Again, we are not that far into the season such that OM is that mentally spent, but I would not be surprised if they were a bit flat and we give our best effort of the season.

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      • paul

        Excellent points. However, against Alabama, trying to prevent the chunk plays is what brought their safeties up. And, ironically, that’s also when Alabama had the most success running the ball.

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      • Dolly Llama

        They’ll get our best shot.🙂

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      • Macallanlover

        You are right Md, Mizzou was definitely “Ole Miss Light” offensively so seeing them was an advantage. Unfortunately, Mizzou put up 345 yards of offense in the first half before we made adjustments and they slowed it down in the 2nd half. That is one reason I am so concerned, we looked hapless against the Tigers until they began running it. Like the Tigers, the Rebel running backs aren’t what scares me…unless you count Chad Kelly as a RB. We should do better defending in the red zone but they have tall receivers going against our DBs, hope they do try to run it there.

        Like you, I hope to see is in the shotgun or pistol with 3-4 wide early, and often. I think it is the key to giving our offense a better chance, and I don’t know why we haven’t been doing it all along. It might get Chubb going and that might help the OL, release the TEs, and create space for the WRs. But Francois began to “pick them apart” once he had some success running the ball on scrambles and designed QB runs, I don’t see us having an answer for that. Hopefully, the offensive alignment change, a few TOs, and a Bama hangover will be enough to give us that spark and keep it close enough to find a way to steal another. This is our glimmer of hope, but it assumes a lot going our way. We will definitely need some help, here’s hoping we get it.

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    • Otto

      A game in recent memory with less confidence.. WLOCP with Richt?

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  10. Will Trane

    Thank you Nick Saban for the reminder…”you do not see what you think you see, and you do not hear what you think you hear.”
    “Think” Smart and his offensive staff are in the mold. Could be. Not only are their strategies from series to series, but from this game to the next.
    Hell, that is why it is fun to watch. Best to shut out the “mouths” sometimes and watch. Also, get off the scoreboard for awhile.
    UT vs UF and the UGA vs UM are going to be fun to watch. These staffs are going at it this week. A turning point in the schedule for all four teams.
    Do we see the rise of the SEC East this week end…even though two play each other.
    It would not surprise me to see the Dawgs shorten this game on the ground and run like hell, or UT to do the same to the UF defense.

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  11. Ole Miss is 1-2 blowing two 3 TD leads
    Ole Miss is one of 4 SEC teams to never win a division title
    We are 32-12-1 vs Ole Miss all time
    We’ve beaten them 10 times in a row
    That’s not the longest streak though. From 1977-1988 we beat them 12 straight. Then Ray went 3-4. Donnan lost the last one to them in his first year.

    Losers are losers. Its a difficult quality to overcome.

    Dogs win on Saturday because we find a way to win and they find a way to lose.

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    • paul

      Like so many of us here, I’m still trying to figure out who these Dawgs are this year. I’m starting to believe perhaps we may just be a ‘find a way to win’ team. I better start buying Tums by the case.

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  12. Turd Ferguson

    Hate to say it, but — like Macallanlover above me — this might be the most confident I’ve ever been that we’ll lose a game. For us to even have a chance of pulling the upset, I think we need another +4 turnover day, like we had at Mizzou. But even then, we’d need to score points off of those turnovers this time around. And as long as our offensive line continues to suck as badly as they have so far, there’s just no way we’ll be able to score enough points.

    Might have to break my “no drinking in the morning” rule this Saturday, in order to be prepared for a noon ass-whipping. Hope I’m wrong. But I expect it to be ugly as all hell.

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    • RocketDawg

      What? You predicting a loss? But you are normally so optimistic and positive. Turd (may I call you Turd or do you prefer Mr. Ferguson?) with fans like yourself who needs enemies?

      Now all we need is chili to show up and tell us how losing is “good for the program” and “part of the process”.

      I think we have a tough match up on Saturday. Likely our hardest game of the year. I will always be optimistic that we have a chance to win until the clock is 00:00.

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    • Um, Florida 1995 is the most confident I’ve ever been that we were going to lose and get embarrassed while having it happen. There’s a reason a buddy and I drank so much before that game that our other halves told us at halftime they were leaving and if we wanted to get back to Atlanta, we better leave with them.

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      • I was pretty sure about the outcome in 1994 and 1996 vs. UF too.

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        • I don’t think this Ole Mi$$ game is anything like those Florida games in the 90’s. We do have a chance to win in Oxford unlike many of those Cocktail Parties.

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          • No doubt. I can’t imagine why anyone thinks we don’t have a chance Saturday. I say we win the damn game.

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            • Turd Ferguson

              For the record, there’s a difference between being confident that we’ll lose and thinking that we don’t even have a chance. Of course we have a chance. This is sports, after all. And we’ve got a decent football team, with potential for greatness. But so far this season: (1) we’ve not been able to put any real pressure on opposing QBs, (2) our offensive line somehow looks like it’s getting worse each week, and (3) special teams is mostly a trainwreck. That, in my opinion, is a recipe for close wins against mediocre teams, and losses against good teams.

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  13. doofusdawg

    As far as our offense and this article… we clearly are still searching for an identity. Whether or not Chaney tries to spread out the defense to open up some lanes for Chubb will be determined… but I do think Chaney will continue to try and get the fullback outside like last week. I also think that he wishes we had a little more speed at that position and it wouldn’t shock me to see Crowder snuck in there to try and catch a few in the flat. I base this on a report that Crowder was #3 in practice rotation. It also might be time to try the fullback dive at least once.

    On defense I think we have to stop Ingram from running free in the middle of the field. Big surprise. Obviously stopping Kelly from running free will be key as well.

    I have more faith in Chaney than I do our defense. Probably another high scoring game. I think we need 38 to win it.

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  14. AusDawg85

    You don’t grasp the jet sweep.” LOL It’s rocket science. Still, Chaney can learn a lot from Kiffen’s game plan. Let’s work the edges and throw over (or under) the OM safeties depending on where ever they set up. Spread the D a little wide, which, unfortunately, is probably going to get Eason killed by edge rushes, but at least Lambert will be able to hand off to Chubb/Michael/Douglas in the 2nd half for the win like the USCe game a couple of years ago in Athens.

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  15. W Cobb Dawg

    I see ole miss as the toughest game of the season. It’s away and against a team that’s won a lot of games the past couple years. If they had our schedule they’d be a legit 10+ win team.

    We are fortunate OM had nationally televised, backbreaking losses. They have been through the wringer from a physical perspective, and have major injuries. I would think OM would benefit from a bye week right now more than anyone. But instead they get an early kick-off.

    Meanwhile, our games have been close but we’ve won. I’d argue we’re healthier now than we were before UNC. Just about every eventuality has broken our way leading up to this game. Few expect us to win this game. But a win in Oxford would be huge for us.

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  16. A couple of ill-informed comments:

    Jet Sweeps, etc. – I don’t think even Lane Kiffin would run a play where there wasn’t a reasonable amount of some success expected. Sure, things were being set up for later, but there was also the added benefit of getting the ball into two our better playmakers’ hands (Ridley and Stewart), plus this took some of the load off of a questionable offensive line and a freshman quarterback making his first road start.
    The Ole Miss – Bama game was a slobberknocker and I think the Black Bears will have a hang over this week. I don’t see how they don’t. This has to benefit you guys.

    BD

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    • BD, re: slobberknocker — that’s exactly what I was hoping for as I watched the game. Didn’t care which team won; just wanted a knock down, drag out fight. Hopefully it took something out of Ole Miss. Early start can’t hurt in that regard, either.

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    • Hardcoredawg 93

      I like that fact Ole Miss is a solid favorite per Vegas. Hopefully, they will be a bit overconfident and that will contribute to a hangover from last week.

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  17. I’m not sure the Kid from Washington is ready to have a game like Stafford did in 2006 on the Plains in a game like this where we were overmatched on paper. If Chad Kelly can play like Brandon Cox and Quincy Mauger and Dominick Sanders can do their best Tre Battle impression, I believe we have a fighting chance with the 11 a.m. start.

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    • Uglydawg

      Man, I hope you guys are on to something. As for me, I hate it, but I’m all Munson on this one. And I don’t want the Dawgs to have that hangover next week.

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      • I was so convinced we were going to lose in 2006 that I went to play golf during the time of the game instead of watch what was supposed to be a public blood-letting. I was surprised about the outcome when I came back in to be told by my club’s pro that the Dawgs had won.

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