Notebook: Ole Miss’ offense shutdown after fast start

Published 9:14 am Sunday, September 16, 2018

One of the most potent offenses in the nation was stifled on Saturday.

The first play of the game was a 75-yard touchdown catch by D.K. Metcalf. The other 58 plays on offense left much to be desired by a team who did not have an answer for an Alabama defense.

Entering this week, Ole Miss (2-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) was the eighth best offense in Division I, averaging 596 yards per game. On Saturday, No. 1 Alabama (3-0, 1-0) held the Rebels to 248 yards and one touchdown.

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After Metcalf’s touchdown the Alabama defense adjusted and the Rebels never recovered.

“I think for every player and coach on this team, offensively,” Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “We expected a better performance there. We preached the little things this week. In a game like this where you’re playing a team of this caliber, you’ve got to play mistake-free football and we didn’t do that.”

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu had his worst performance of the season, completing 7 of 22 passes for 133 yards, a touchdown and his first two interceptions of the season. Ta’amu also had a fumble when he ran up the middle on a draw play and was hit as he went down. The play seemed to affect Ta’amu’s effectiveness the rest of the game.

“The best thing I can do it just learn from my mistakes and come out next week stronger than ever,” Ta’amu said. “I can promise that this won’t ever happen again on my side, the offense side and this team in general.”

The Nasty Wide Out (NWO) trio of Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge was kept in check by the Crimson Tide defense. All three receivers were held under 100 yards with Metcalf finishing with 92. Brown and Lodge combined for 41 yards on five catches.

Family Affair

The Ruggs’ household was divided.

Ole Miss freshman Linebacker Kevontae’ Ruggs line up across from his brother, Alabama sophomore wide receiver Harry Ruggs, III on Saturday night. The Crimson Tide got the better of Ole Miss on the scoreboard and the elder Ruggs got better of his younger brother.

Kevontae’ had four tackles and hurried the quarterback once while his older brother had three catches for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Extra points

Alabama became the first team to score 50 or more points in their first three games of the season. …Metcalf’s 75-yard touchdown catch was Ole Miss’ longest play from scrimmage this season. …The Rebels now have six drives that have taken less than a minute. Coming into Saturday’s game, they led the nation in that category. …C.J. Moore’s interception of Jalen Hurts was the first time a Rebel has intercepted an Alabama quarterback since 2015.