Goal Line Stand Flips Momentum
After scoring a touchdown on their opening possession, LSU’s offense picked up where it left off and drove down the field with ease, behind an interior running attack that gauged the Rebel defense. However, when the Tigers got to the red zone, Ole Miss switched out a pair of DBs in favor of defensive lineman. This goal line package stood strong, stopping LSU on three straight runs to force a 4th down from the 3 yard line. LSU kept its offense on the field but called a timeout after seeing that the Rebels had not switched their defensive lineup. After the break, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron kept his offense on the field and sent out 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 2 WRs) with an extra offensive tackle to sell the run. The short-side receiver motioned across the formation, and quarterback Max Johnson took the snap, rolling to his left and surveyed the field before trying to hit receiver Trey Palmer at the pylon. Before his pass could reach its target, however, freshman safety Tysheem Johnson undercut the route and intercepted the ball. Though Johnson was pushed out at the one yard line, the turnover gave the Landsharks a much-needed break after being dominated until this point in the game. The Rebel offense kept the momentum going despite stalling early on their first two drives. Running back Snoop Conner took the next 3 carries for 45 yards, starting what would become a 31 point nosebleed for the Tigers.
Defense Stiffens Up
Though LSU started the game moving the ball with ease, they looked stuck in the mud after Tysheem Johnson picked Max Johnson at the goal line. The pass rush started generating pressure, hitting Johnson constantly and forcing a pair of fumbles that ended in Rebel possessions. Additionally, the run defense squared up to an LSU ground game that shredded Florida the week before with 321 yards and three touchdowns. The Rebels’ three DL fronts did an amazing job of plugging gaps and keeping offensive linemen off linebackers, leaving Chance Campbell free to play quickly and physically. After their opening drive, LSU did not score again until just 7:28 remained in the game and most of the Rebel starters had been pulled. This was by far the best defensive performance from the Rebels all season. If they can continue to play like this, expect an undefeated finish to the season, including wins against No. 19 Auburn and No. 17 Texas A&M.
Manning Honored, Orgeron Embarrassed
If LSU needed any reinforcement that they made the right decision in moving on from Orgeron after this season, Saturday’s game provided all the proof that needed. Granted, the Tigers were missing some key players in Eli Ricks, Kayshon Boutte and Derek Stingley, but those are far from the only elite prospects to have committed down in the Bayou, and there was lots of slack to be picked up. On the contrary, the game paid a fitting tribute to Eli Manning, whose number 10 became just the third to be retired in Ole Miss history, after his father Archie Manning, number 18, and Chucky Mullins, number 38. Eli Manning, who finished his career in Oxford with over 10,000 passing yards and 84 touchdowns, gave a brief, yet heartfelt, halftime speech about his appreciation of Ole Miss and its dedicated fans before watching proudly as his number was retired.