Late yesterday we were able to capture Juco All-American from fellow SB Nation blog covering all things Ole Miss, Red Cup Rebellion, and subject him to interrogation to learn what Houston Nutt has been doing in all those closed practices this week. Turns out these were predominated by debate on what to wear to the square after the game. Still, we withheld grain alcohol from him long enough to get a few answers about the game itself which we now present for your edification.
Roll 'Bama Roll: For whatever reason, Jevan Snead has not performed up to expectations this season. Can you find a legitimate reason for that, i.e. something which could be corrected moving forward, or is this simply a case where Snead just isn't as good of a player as he was hyped to be in the preseason?
Juco All American: Well, first of all, our pass protection has struggled. But even when it’s not bad and Jevan isn’t pressured, he plays like he is. Due to early season struggles on the offensive line, he just assumes there’s heavy pressure on every play. This has led to throws across his body, coming off of his back foot, even while there’s good protection.
But an even larger problem appears to be that Jevan stares down his receivers. We haven’t seen a quarterback who is capable of checking down effectively or picking up blitzes. He plays like he’s a first year starter.
Lastly, there’s Jevan’s "gunslinger" attitude. He models himself after Bretty Favre, and that’s probably a reason for the interceptions. Why we didn’t see as many interceptions last year with the same mentality is anyone’s guess. My guess is that Mike Wallace’s speed made up for a lot of Jevan’s miscues. You can force the ball when it’s a fade route to Wallace.
RBR: The Ole Miss offensive line looked fat, slow, and out of shape against South Carolina, turning in a pretty abysmal effort. Nine days later, however, they did a great job of shutting down a fairly potent Vanderbilt pass rush. Exactly what gives here? Which performance is really more indicative of the true quality of the offensive line?
JAA: Wow. Fat, slow and out of shape. You’re absolutely right. Our offensive line was huffing and puffing on the sidelines even though they were never playing in the game.
I think that the two new starters on the offensive line grew up a good bit in the week between South Carolina and Vanderbilt. I think they realized that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk, and their teammates probably helped them realize that.
Also, we gameplanned around our inefficiencies on the left side of the line by rolling Jevan right or giving LT Bradley Sowell some extra blocking help with a tight end, fullback or halfback. I’m not sure how effective a blocking halfback will be against your blitzing linebackers and defensive ends, but it worked against Vandy, and you have to get one win at a time.
RBR: Coming into the year, Ole Miss was generally thought to have one of the worst defensive backfields in the SEC. Despite this, the Ole Miss secondary has looked very good early. So, is the Ole Miss secondary truly a good unit, or have they just created a mirage by stopping a few largely ineffective passing attacks?
JAA: The secondary is easily the most improved unit on the team. Last season, Kodi Burns and Chris Smelley (who you might now know as a catcher for your baseball team) each threw for over 300 yards against us. Yeah. It was that bad.
This year, we have seen our secondary that appeared somewhat raw last season transform into a group with good technique and discipline. I really think most of this falls on the coaching staff. They worked with our worst unit and made it good. It’s certainly not great, but with our pass rush, it may not need to be.
I think the biggest shocker to me has been the out-of-the-blue emergence of senior CB Cassius Vaughn. Vaughn started for us last year, but there was a noticeable talent gap between he and Marshay Green (our other starter). This season, I would venture to say that Vaughn has passed Green in performance, at least when the ball is in the air. Several times this season, Rebel fans have seen Vaughn break up a huge pass that looked to be caught. We’re all excited to see if we have any answer for Julio Jones. I know he hasn’t produced this season, but I also know what he’s capable of doing. It’s scary.
RBR: Until he leaves for the NFL, I imagine every 'Bama fan will have nightmares about Greg Hardy. We all know that he's a terror off the edge, but he really hasn't been able to stay healthy the past couple of years, and it still doesn't seem like he is 100% right now. Exactly how healthy is Hardy now, and how have the injuries limited his effectiveness?
JAA: Hardy may not be 100%, but he looks close. Against Vanderbilt, he made the opposing right tackle look stupid play after play. Hardy only came away with one sack, but there were several times that Greg dictated what was going to happen on the play.
He’s a physical freak whose nickname is "The Beast." Hardy also appears to have an axe to grind with everyone who called his work ethic into question. This season, he writes the words "Doubt Me" in his eye black. Yeah. Even as fans on our own team, we’re terrified.
He’s probably the best defensive end to ever play at Ole Miss. Sure, I’m sure that 150 pound Whitey Mc1940 was good, but Hardy is just unreasonable. He’s built like a run stuffer, but he has the skills of a pass rusher. Look out.
RBR: We talked about on the RBR Radio Hour last night how this could be the biggest win at home for Ole Miss in ages, so I'll ask directly here: With Alabama, undefeated and #3 in the country, coming into Oxford, in a historical sense, exactly how big of a win would this be for Ole Miss? And, if this does come to pass, give us an idea of the type of hangover you will have afterward.
JAA: If we win this game, we’re honestly in the driver’s seat for the SEC West for the first time in ages. At this point, I feel like we’ll lose more than 2 games, but if we could beat Alabama, I think it’s because our offense will have emerged to what we hoped it would be before the season.
If that’s the case, we could seriously end the regular season at 11-1. While Auburn and LSU look slightly scarier than they did before the season, both pale in comparison to Alabama. While this is faulty logic, I just feel like if we beat Alabama, we would certainly beat Auburn and LSU. The other teams don’t scare me at all.
11-1 would likely put us somewhere in the top 7. An SEC Championship game versus Florida, who we somehow managed to beat last year, would be on the horizon. Remember, Ole Miss has never even been to Atlanta.
Anyway, the root of the question was the hangover part.
I’m going to be drinking a large amount of Maker’s whether we win or lose. If we lose, it’s to drown my sorrows. If we win, it’s in celebration that the countless hours I spend blogging about the Rebels aren’t for naught. Either way, the hangover’s a bitch.