What’s at stack today is really no secret. Both Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt and Georgia coach Mark Richt are on the proverbial hot seat that has led some to dub today’s meeting (the 44th all-time; Georgia leads 20-12-1) the CoachesHotSeat.com Bowl… or the Buyout Bowl.
Like Ole Miss, Georgia enters today’s game 2-1 (0-1 SEC) with losses to No. 5 Boise State (35-21) and No. 12 South Carolina (45-42). Their lone win came last week via a 59-0 against Coastal Carolina.
BIG DAWGS: The Bulldogs are led on offense by All-SEC QB Aaron Murray. The sophomore from Tampa (Fla.) has completed 53 of 84 passes (63.1 percent) for 672 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also rushed for a score.
Fellow sophomore QB Hutson Mason, who appeared in a reality show during his days at Lassiter (Ga) prior to landing his coveted Georgia scholarship offer, could also see action under center today according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Because of dismissals, transfers and injuries, Dream Team front man RB Isaiah Crowell has played more than expected and has played well. Through three games, Crowell has rushed for 264 yards and two TDs on 47 carries.
TEAM LEADERS: Ole Miss’ offense has had a rough go of it early on, especially on offense having scored just one touchdown against a D1 foe. The Rebels also rank last in most offensive categories when compared to their SEC brethren. At quarterback, junior college transfer Zack Stoudt has completed 38 of 70 passes for 398 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. Sophomore Jeff Scott has led the rushing attack — in large part because of the injuries to Enrique Davis and Brandon Bolden — with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries.
FIGHTING TWO BATTLES: Not only will the Rebels be fighting on the playing field, they’re also fighting a publicity battle with the newish group Forward Rebels.
In response to Forward Rebels’ recent full-page ad that called for change within the administration, the M-Club sent an e-mail this morning to M-Club Alumni:
“Fellow members of the M-Club:
This week has been an especially difficult one to be a Rebel. If the loss last Saturday in Nashville wasn’t enough, an anonymous group (not even led by an Ole Miss Rebel) made a conscious decision to disrespect the Ole Miss name through petty and malicious advertisements in the newspaper. Regardless of your opinion of the message, I trust that we all agree the delivery was short-sighted and more harmful than helpful.
The Ole Miss that we love is full of men and women of character, integrity and passion. It’s full of men and women who leave everything on the field for Ole Miss, with everyone from our players to our support staff, coaches and other leaders committed to winning championships the right way. It’s full of men and women who are known even to opposing fans for dignity, grace, and respect for others.
At times, we may disagree with one another, but we must do so the Ole Miss way, with respect and civility. These anonymous and public ads do not help Ole Miss. Those who placed them care more about advancing their personal agendas, whatever they may be, than about Ole Miss. We have no place for disrespect and public attacks on one another. And we have absolutely no place for anyone, while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, tarnishing Ole Miss to achieve some short-term or other agenda.
This weekend we host an SEC team that wants to win this game as much as we do. But, one thing is for sure – we as fans need to do our part to give our Rebels the support and home field advantage they will need to win.
It’s time to put aside our differences and move forward together.
The letter is signed on the bottom by president of the M-Club Alumni Chapter Broc Kreitz and Archie Manning.
GAME DAY PREVIEW: Be sure to click the link HERE and check out this week’s 16-page GAME DAY preview football tab. This week’s edition contains articles on Wayne Dorsey‘s emergence, Stoudt looking for better execution, Bolden being caught off guard by the Rebels second slow start in as many seasons D.T. Shackelford‘s year in which his knee injury has turned him into a coach.
RECRUITING TIDBIT: Last night Lafayette quarterback Jeremy Liggins told me he was planning to be in attendance at today’s game. The four-star recruit said the same schools have been in contact with him (“Same ole, same ole,” he said) and that last week’s visit from LSU coach Les Miles at the Shannon game was pretty neat.
“It was kind of nerve wracking at first, but we settled in and played our ball,” he said.
The Commodores blew out Pontotoc last night 48-7. Liggins factored into the scoring four times with passes of 71 and 54 yards, and runs of 20 and 1. He ended up completing 4 of 6 passes for 159 yards. Liggins also rushed for 88 yards on 12 carries.
GEORGIA 3, Ole Miss 0: After forcing Ole Miss to punt on its first drive, Georgia drove 80 yards and settled for a 36-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 6:52 remaining in the first quarter. Crowell had 35 yards on five carries.
GEORGIA 10, Ole Miss 0: Ole Miss sputtered on its second possession, going three and out, and Georgia pounced with a 53-yard drive that was aided by a late hit flag on Charles Sawyer. Murray capped the seven-play drive with a 1-yard QB keeper for a score with 1:08 remaining in the first quarter.
GEORGIA 17, Ole Miss 0: Murray’s 2-yard pass to Orson Charles out of a play-action set capped an eight-play, 99-yard drive for Georgia with 6:01 remaining in the first half.
Georgia 17, OLE MISS 7: Ole Miss didn’t waste any time countering. After a 5-yard run by Bolden and a 37-yard pass to Nick Brassell down the Rebels’ sideline, Ole Miss broke out a little trickeration. Randall Mackey took a pitch from Jeff Scott coming back from the receiver spot and connected with Donte Moncrief wide open for a 38-yard score.
GEORGIA 24, Ole Miss 7: Ole Miss recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Mackey’s interception set the Bulldogs up around mid-field. Three plays later Murray connected with Aron White for a 35-yard TD with 2:38 remaining in the half.
Georgia 24, OLE MISS 13: Following a three-and-out by Georgia, Scott fielded the ensuing punt, ran to his right and handed the ball off to Brassell. The freshman from South Panola took the handoff 84-yards down the Georgia sideline behind an army of Ole Miss blockers for Ole Miss’ second score of the game with 49.9 seconds remaining in the first half. Ole Miss would go on t miss the extra point, however.
GEORGIA 27, Ole Miss 13: After missing his first three attempts, Georgia kicker Blair Walsh converted a 43-yard field goal with 56 seconds remaining to ice the game for the Bulldogs.
POST-GAME STATS: Georgia accumulated 475 total yards of offense. Crowell had a game-high 147 yards on 30 carries, while Murray completed 17 of 26 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one interception.
Both Zack Stoudt and Mackey had sub-par performances from a statistical standpoint. Stoudt completed 9 of 23 passes for 71 yards, while Mackey was 3-for-7 for 78 yards with a touchdown. Both quarterbacks threw interceptions.
The star of the game for Ole Miss? Maybe it was punter Tyler Campbell. The junior blended rugby-style kicks with more traditional booming punts to the tune of 457 total yards on nine attempts, an average of 50.8. He also had three inside Georgia’s 20.
Mike Marry was Ole Miss’ top tackler with 10 total. He also had one sack.
Charles Sawyer had Ole Miss’ lone interception on a ball that was intended for Orson Charles and was tipped twice before Sawyer was able to dive and snag the ball just above the turf. The play was withstood an official review.
OTHER NOTES: WR Collins Moore, OL Aaron Morris, DL Bryon Bennett, DB Frank Crawford and LB Ralph Williams all started for the first time, while OL-to-DL Terrell Brown made his Ole Miss debut.
Ole Miss will be back in action next Saturday at Fresno State. (September 24, 2011)