Thursday, February 6, 2014
Season report card: Ole Miss
By Edward Aschoff
It was another successful year for the Rebels, as Hugh Freeze took Ole Miss from seven to eight wins in Year 2.
Hugh Freeze led Ole Miss to five wins in its last seven games after a 3-3 start in 2013.
The Rebels struggled with consistency at times on offense but still managed a good deal of success, ranking fifth in the SEC in total offense (473.3 yards) and scoring 30 points per game. Quarterback Bo Wallace showed off his anxiety-inducing, gunslinger mentality at times, but threw for 3,346 yards and 18 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. Receivers Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell combined to catch 131 passes for 1,546 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Rebels averaged 128.9 rushing yards and 22.5 points per game in conference play. Ole Miss also turned it over 21 times.
Ole Miss allowed 422.5 yards and 29.6 points per game in conference play and allowed more than 130 yards per game less against nonconference foes. The Rebels tied for 12th in the league with just 19 sacks but forced 22 turnovers, including nabbing 13 interceptions. Junior safety Cody Prewitt was the biggest standout, leading the SEC with six interceptions and earning first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. The Rebels didn't allow a team to score 30 points in their final seven games, going 5-2 during that stretch.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C
Punter Tyler Campbell ranked third in the SEC with an average of 44.4 yards per kick. Seventeen of his 51 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, while 13 went 50-plus yards. Kicker Andrew Ritter made 16 of his 24 field goal attempts (66.7 percent), with a long of 52 yards, and had three kicks blocked. He missed five of his last eight kicks on the season. Ole Miss was second in the conference with two punt returns for touchdowns and was middle of the pack when it came to kick coverage.
Before the season, Freeze said he wanted fans to temper their expectations for 2013. But after a thrilling opening win over Vanderbilt and a blowout of Texas in Austin to start 3-0, fans eyed a double-digit-win season for the Rebels. After opening with three straight wins, Ole Miss dropped three in a row before winning four straight. However, the Ole Miss offense stalled at the end of the regular season, leading to back-to-back losses to Missouri and Mississippi State to put a bit of a damper on the Rebels' finish. Still, the Rebels won consecutive bowl games for the first time since 2009. Despite those late losses, overcoming injuries and depth issues to win eight games was an impressive feat by Freeze and his team.