Sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief has found himself as the focus of many opposing defenses, resulting in double coverages and schemes built to stop him. This, however, has allowed for junior wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan and sophomore wide receiver Vince Sanders the opportunity to see more action and catch more passes.
Moncrief leads the team with 21 catches for 380 yards and opposing defenses have adjusted, and because of that, Logan and Sanders know that they will have to step up in the offense.
“All of the receivers realized it was going to be a big game last week,” Sanders said. “We figured they would probably focus on Donte Moncrief, so we had to step up and make plays when they came our way and that’s what we ended up doing.”
In this past Saturday’s game against Alabama, Sanders caught a career-high seven passes for a career-high 46 yards and Logan added three catches for 18 yards. As Ole Miss continues its stretch of eight Southeastern Conference games in nine weeks, both know that they will only see these roles increase.
“I feel like that’s what is going to happen when it comes down to SEC play,” Logan said. “Donte (Moncrief) is going to be hard to stop, as you can see.”
During the Alabama game, the Tide consistently put two defenders on Moncrief, forcing the other receivers to findways to get the ball. Moncrief was held to only two catches — and none after a 31-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace to set up Ole Miss’ first touchdown.
“From what I saw from the way they played him, I think a lot of teams will continue double teaming him,” Sanders said of Moncrief. “He is a special player, so it is kind of a good thing for me.”
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has said time and time again that he wants to spread the ball around, but someone has to step up to become a viable option at wide receiver opposite Moncrief. According to Logan, it’s simple, really.
“You have to get open,” Logan said. “You just have to beat your man — man-to-man. Who is the better athlete is what it comes down to.
“We know what we can do. We know what we are all about. Later on in the season when they start double teaming me and Vince (Sanders), that’ll be when Donte (Moncrief) starts going back to doing what he does.”
Sanders had a good fall camp and was expected to have a breakout season. However, he was slow to get going in the new Ole Miss offense, but a career day against Alabama on Saturday has given him a lot of confidence as Ole Miss heads into its final seven games of the season.
“I think it gives me more confidence,” Sanders said. “I’ve been patient all year and having a big game, a career-high game, against the No. 1 team in the nation gives me more confidence.” Logan and Sanders also see the attention given to Moncrief as motivation for other playmakers on offense.
“Once we see that, Vince (Sanders), Donte (Moncrief) and I come together and we are like, ‘We have to get it done,’” Logan said. “They took one of our players out of the game, so it comes down to me, Vince (Sanders), Bo (Wallace), Jeff Scott, (Randall) Mackey, Korvic (Neat) when he gets back, Philander (Moore); we just all have to come together.”
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