Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ole Miss Upsets Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl

Yet another bowl game has been completed. The Cotton Bowl pitted the SEC against the Big 12. Ole Miss vs Texas Tech. Ole Miss defeated Texas Tech 47-34. This game resulted in an Ole Miss win because the Rebels made more plays than the Red Raiders. Lets take a look at how the Rebels defeated the Red Raiders.

Before the game started, much hype has been made about Rebels offense, comparing it to what the Miami Dolphins' wildcat offense. The Rebels did some of that in the Cotton Bowl but they were more efficient with conventional screen. They did complete a reverse pass in the wildcat formation where Dexter McCluster was lined up as the QB while the starting QB Jevan Snead lined up as a wide receiver. McCluster pitched the football to Snead on a reverse and Snead passed the ball to Mike Wallace. Any other "Wild Rebel" offense offense resulted in a run by McCluster. Anyway, the Rebels were methodical on the offense most of their offensive possessions. They used many formations to march the football down the field such as shotgun four or five wide, Wild Rebel, singleback double TE, power I-Form, and other formations. The Rebels' offensive line were creating huge holes for their running backs, especially in the second half. The offensive line also gave Jevan Snead much time in the pocket to make good decisions with the football. Snead was 14/29 for 292 yards with three touchdowns and one interception which happened early in the first quarter and return for a touchdown by the Red Raiders. The Rebels' playmakers showed up big. Dexter McCluster, Mike Wallace, Gerald Harris (very underrated TE), and Brandon Bolden. Dexter McCluster is one of their special players as he plays three positions for the Rebels which are wide receiver, running back, and quarterback in the Wild Rebel formation. He has excellent quickness and speed with patience. McCluster isn't the biggest player out there as he is only 5-8 165 lbs but plays with great toughness. Mike Wallace is smallish but a good route runner and has good hands. Gerald Harris has good size and hands, though his route running is so-so as his blocking. I do think he has good potential to be a really good. Bolden has some giddy-up for man his size. He is a patient runner too. Michael Oher has bright future in the NFL as a LT. He'll be someone's gem at the next level. The Rebels just ran the ball down the throats of the Red Raider defense and passed off the run with play action.

My game ball goes to the Rebel defense. They did an excellent job attacking the Red Raiders, putting pressure on Graham Harrell on virtually every pass play. The corners were aggressive against the receivers by bumping them at the line and being physical down the field. The Rebels defense did get a safety after their own offense coughed up the football at Red Raiders goaline. The defense also return an interception for touchdown in the second half. They were not intimidated by the speed of the Red Raiders' offense. Peria Perry, the DT for the Rebels, played a great game and the broadcasting team compared him to Glen Dorsey, the former All-American DT of LSU that graduated last year. That praise is a bit much, but I do think he'll be a solid NFL prospect because of power and good hands.

Red Raiders defense just could not stop the Rebels offense. The physicality of the Rebels just wore them down in the end. Tackles were missed and gaping holes were made against this defense by the Rebels. The Red Raiders did get stops against the Rebels but not enough of them. On offense, they didn't fare all that well. The Rebels were bring defenders than the Red Raiders can block and that caused much problems. The timing was off. Michael Crabtree's sprained ankle didn't help either as he was held to only four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. He had no real impact on the game. Obviously, the young man has a bright future in the NFL. Russell to Crabtree sounds good to me. Graham Harrell might have a future at the next level. I'm just not sure about him. Kliff Kingsbury didn't do much of anything in the league so I'm a little skeptical, though Harrell does have a stronger arm, more mobility, and better accuracy than Kingsbury. Harrell will probably be drafted on day 2 of the draft.

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