Jaxson Dart can win games.
Though there was a lot to be upset about, it is important to recognize how well Jaxson Dart played.
The first-year starter went 30 of 38 for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. (Keep in mind Jonathan Mingo and Malik Heath had a pair of huge drops early.)
The last drive of the game was a master class in chain-moving clock management. Staring down aggressive pressure, Dart kept his composure and drove the Rebels down the field, throwing to a number of tight windows on the way.
Though there were question marks early in the season, Dart has progressed very well and is poised well to take the next step in 2023. Quinshon Judkins, Dart and Michael Trigg will return, giving the Rebels a healthy core of offensive weapons.
The coaching staff deserves blame.
It feels like the Ole Miss coaching staff has failed to make a single adjustment all season. It is wildly apparent that our defensive coaches have no intention of changing their ways, even though Ole Miss has one of the worst defenses in the conference.
There have been numerous occasions this season where an opponent has had a crucial third or fourth and short, and Ole Miss has trotted out just three defensive lineman. It has not worked once. Every time, the opponent is able to easily set up a pair of double teams, climb to the next level and run for 5-10 yards effortlessly.
The defensive staff has to change. Demotions and dismissals are seemingly needed for a staff that has failed to diagnose even the most mundane of schematic issues.
After leading an impressive touchdown drive to bring the Rebels to within two and give them a chance to tie the game, the Ole Miss coaching staff was once again lost.
Ole Miss had managed to drive the length of the field without burning a single timeout, meaning that even without scoring the two-point conversion, they could get three stops and get the ball back with around a minute left.
Lane Kiffin, however, decided it would be better to burn TWO of his timeouts on the two-point conversion, marching out the same formation twice before switching to an inside shovel pass.
His play call would be stopped, and the Rebels would be forced to try an onside kick to retain any chance of winning the game.
Had Kiffin simply tried his original play (or called something safer since the short game was working), he could have had a much better chance to get the ball back, needing just a field goal this time.
Secondly, on the backwards pass call that gave Mississippi State the ball, both Jordan Watkins and Mingo stared at the ball for a few seconds without making a move to pounce on it. Though Ole Miss would get it back on a goal-line fumble anyway, the lack of situation awareness is concerning to say the least.