Published on December 6th, 2016 | by Kevin Williams0
The Season Ended As It Started: A look at Ole Miss Football
Seeing the seconds count down on the 2016 Ole Miss football season was bittersweet. The way it ended with a loss to Mississippi State was miserable. However, watching this disappointing season final conclude was the first step in healing.
Watching the Egg Bowl was like watching something you love suffer. Though you love this thing, you can’t bear to watch it suffer anymore. The suffering is over and now the improvements can happen.
While looking back at this year one wonders what happened. The start of the season was a time of great expectations. Everyone believed that this could be a special year. All the fans believed it. All the pundits proclaimed it.
The year started off with a close loss to Florida State. In hindsight, that game proved to be a microcosm of the Rebels’ year. The game began with an early season-ending injury to a key Ole Miss player. Ken Webster went down with a knee injury that hurt the Ole Miss defensive unit.
This 2016 season saw many injuries that effected the Rebels. The injuries forced freshmen, who were to play secondary roles, to have to contribute heavily. Though the experience will be beneficial later, it was a key factor to a lack of defensive efficiency and a consistent running game.
Also, that game demonstrated the Rebels inability to keep a lead. Ole Miss went into halftime with a 28-10 lead. Then they were outscored in the second half 32-6. Many wanted to believe this was an anomaly, but unfortunately it proved to be rule and not the exception. Ole Miss would lose many halftime leads this year. They would have many inept second halves.
But most glaring was the lack of depth and talent at linebacker. DeMarquis Gates is a very capable defender. However, he at times was unavailable to the team due to violation of team rules. The Florida State game showed that even with Gates, the linebacker corps was lacking talent. They struggled tackling both running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback Deondre Francois.
Their lack of tackling coupled with a disregard to gap responsibility was the theme for the defense all year. This defense, that at one time was considered one of the fiercest defenses in the country, was last in almost every statistical category in the SEC. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald ran all over the defense during the Egg Bowl. As a fan, it was embarrassing.
Now the season is over. It ended the same way it began, wondering what could have been. The future is bright. There is a lot of talent returning next season. This will hurt a while. Hopefully the excitement of signing day and the Grove Bowl can help us move on. So, until then we say Hotty Toddy to football.