Published on September 27th, 2015 | by Newt Rayburn
No. 3 Ole Miss Fends Off Vanderbilt to Remain Undefeated
University, Miss (TLV) – It wasn’t a pretty game and certainly not nearly as exciting as the previous three wins, but the Ole Miss Rebels defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores in Oxford Saturday, 27-16.
The Rebels moved much slower throughout this game compare to previous efforts, looking lethargic and tired at times against the Commodores.
“We just didn’t play real well,” said Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze, “and I have to start with myself. I didn’t prepare them well enough.”
Vanderbilt took an early 3-0 lead in the First Quarter, the first time Ole Miss has trailed any team so far this season. But the Rebels rallied back the next possession, scoring seven and never trailing Vandy again.
On paper, the stats looked pretty decent. Ole Miss had 321 passing yards, all from Quarterback Chad Kelly. Laquon Treadwell had 135 of those, a career high for the Junior Reciever. Other receiving yards came courtesy of Damore’ea Stringfellow (71 yards), Markell Pack (52 yards), and Evan Engram (41 yards).
However, Kelly threw two interceptions and was sacked three times.
“I don’t have to watch the film on the two picks,” Freeze said of Chad Kelly. “Just really, really bad reads. We’ve got to coach him better, for sure.”
Ole Miss’ rushing game struggled. The team only rushed for 151 yards, with Running Back Jaylen Walton responsible for 138 of the total. The Rebels were stopped short of the goal line several times in Vandy territory, settling for two field goals instead of touchdowns.
“Complements to Coach Mason and his squad,” said Coach Freeze after the game. “He’s doing a really nice job there and I really like that guy. He had his kids ready to play tonight and the effort they gave is complimentary.”
“We didn’t have ours ready to play tonight,” lamented Freeze, “particularly in some critical areas, like third downs and tight red zone. We scored some points there, but we have to be more efficient.”
The Rebels only converted three of thirteen third downs, and racked up eleven penalties for a loss of 119 yards.
“We were, I guess, top two or three in the nation in penalties and we had 11 tonight for 120 yards; and turned the ball over tonight,” lamented Freeze. “That is not stuff that is elite football.”
Coach Freeze had plenty to say when asked about a possible “hangover” from last week’s late-night win against Alabama.
“Last week’s game took a lot out of us,” Freeze said about the Alabama win. “Getting back at 5 am and we had some beat up kids that don’t practice some during the week, but everybody has to go through that.”
“Did that have something to do with some of our play?” Freeze questioned. “I don’t know. I just know if that’s the case, we’re going to have a long year.”
“We had an awful Wednesday. We had an OK Tuesday, Freeze said of his Vandy preparation. “But we need the leadership in the locker room to help us with that, for sure.”
Despite Ole Miss’ struggles against the Commodores, the Rebels prevailed, ultimately winning the game 27-16.
“I told the team we need to celebrate the wins in life,” said Freeze. “Life moves too fast. You better enjoy the wins that you get. We need to celebrate but learn from the things we didn’t do well. If we want to be elite we have to prepare like we are an elite football team.”
Ole Miss is currently ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, and No. 5 in the Coaches poll. Ole Miss plays the Florida Gators this Saturday, October 3 in Gainesville at 6 pm. It will be the third night game in a row for the Rebels.