Ole Miss football: Grading the Rebels' loss to Arkansas
The first tangible dose of disappointment in the Lane Kiffin era came in the form of a 33-21 loss to Arkansas on Saturday evening. Matt Corral struggled, and turnovers cost the Rebels any real shot of winning the game. Let’s take a look at what went wrong with some grades.
Corral played the worst game of his young Ole Miss career and did not look comfortable from the start. His 6 interceptions crippled any momentum the Rebels tried to generate. A fumble near the goal line in the first quarter was one of 7 turnovers he accounted for and foreshadowed what was to come. How does Corral rebound from this, and will his confidence be affected in the long term? He had been one of the best passers in the SEC through three games before Saturday’s debacle, and how he responds will be critical to his development.
Offensive line: B
Corral was sacked only twice, and the Rebels ran for 242 yards. For all that went wrong for Ole Miss on Saturday, the offensive line was sturdy and gave the offense a chance to function coherently.
There is a lot this group could have done differently, with the rate at which Corral turned the football over, but it was once again an Elijah Moore-heavy effort with no real consistent threat behind him. Tight end Kenny Yeboah did not register a catch, and Jonathan Mingo has been quiet since his breakout game at Kentucky two weeks ago.
Running backs: A
Ole Miss ran for 200-plus for the second week in a row on the backs of Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner. This was the most consistent form of offense the Rebels had all day. It is hard to find much to gripe about with what the running backs did even through all of the offensive dysfunction.
Defensive line: B
The line was pretty good against Feleipe Franks, for the most part. Ole Miss netted 3 sacks and probably generated the most consistent pressure they’ve applied on a quarterback to this point. LeDarrius Cox recovered a fumble and Hal Northern had a half-sack, and those are two guys Ole Miss needs to be productive around Ryder Anderson (who also had a sack). Not all losses look the same, and this one will particularly sting for Ole Miss because they wasted a pretty good effort from a much-maligned defense.
The linebackers were pretty good at helping quell the Arkansas running game. The Rebels held Rakeem Boyd to 39 yards, a recipe for a successful day. The linebackers have played well the past two weeks after a slow start to the season.
The defense as a whole held Arkansas to 394 yards, by far the fewest yards the unit has allowed this season, and the secondary did not pave the way for a career day for Franks. Franks was 21-of-34 for 244 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The secondary, along with the rest of the defense, was put in some tough spots because of the turnovers and largely held its own.
There was a lot of bad on the offensive side of the ball for Ole Miss that overshadowed the good on the defensive side. How this young team responds to its worst performance of the season will be fascinating to watch play out.