Major personnel upgrades on National Signing Day generated the buzz around Oxford, Miss. this season, but it’s been Bo Wallace and the rocket-fast Ole Miss offense continuing to impress that’s kept the Rebels in the spotlight under second-year coach Hugh Freeze.
Focusing on tempo, Ole Miss provided glimpses of what could be late last season, but this year’s wins over Texas and LSU were the necessary stamps of approval the program needed to divert the rest of college football’s up-and-comers to a unit worth watching in the SEC West.
Ole Miss leads what used to be a defense-driven league in total plays with 784 and over the last month, has been the SEC’s most productive spread attack with 500-plus yard outings each contest.
During Saturday’s 30-point win over Troy, Ole Miss averaged just over 8 yards per play and fired off 93 snaps in complete domination of the Trojans, compiling the school’s most yards from scrimmage — 751 — in a single game since 1951. The key during this stretch has been the Rebels’ ability to find rhythmic fluidity in the first half. They’ve outscored opponents 81-27 before intermission and have only trailed once after halftime.
Wallace’s play has risen from the pocket with two of his three career-high passing performances coming over the last four games including a personal-best 416-yard, three-touchdown day against Arkansas. But production from the offense’s collection of fast-twitch backs has made Wallace’s job, especially on play-action calls that bring linebackers toward the line of scrimmage, much easier.
All of Ole Miss’ top three rushers are under 6-foot, 200 pounds and fit nicely into Freeze’s philosophy of getting the football in the hands of his fastest players in space. For the season, the Rebels have five players with at least 200 yards rushing and all have scored two or more touchdowns on the ground.
Jeff Scott’s the household name, a senior from Miami with 18 career offensive touchdowns but Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers have given the Rebels additional home run threats in the backfield. Big plays haven’t been limited to running backs either as four different Ole Miss receivers have touchdown receptions of at least 64 yards this season.
Laquon Treadwell’s one of those aforementioned fab freshmen and he’s made his presence felt with at least two receptions in every game. Treadwell’s five touchdown receptions is tied for the team-lead at five with junior Donte Moncrief.
If Johnny Manziel declares after Texas A&M’s bowl game, you’re looking at the West’s most dynamic offense in 2014.