Ole Miss traveled to Houston to take on Texas Tech in the TaxAct Texas Bowl, and the Red Raiders sent the Rebels into the offseason with a loss. Texas Tech and first-year head coach Joey McGuire bested Lane Kiffin and his squad 42-25, and after this loss, it will be interesting to monitor the changes and development of this team going into 2023.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
A lack of discipline cost the Rebels.
Early in the game, Ole Miss lost its defensive anchor Troy Brown to a targeting call. From that moment on, it seemed like the defense was lost, which is understandable after losing a leader as good as Brown. However, the point is that no one else stepped up in his absence.
Winning football teams, championship football teams, have multiple leaders on both sides of the football, so to see no one else assume the role of Brown was disappointing. Hopefully, this loss to Texas Tech will be a wake-up call for the players that are staying, as well as the ones coming in: leadership roles are wide open for the taking.
The offense did not look good in this contest, either. Sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart threw three interceptions along with one fumble. Junior receiver Dayton Wade also fumbled one away. These mistakes are frustrating at face value, but Rebel fans must understand that mistakes lead to learning and development.
Dart has his first year of SEC football under his belt.
Before this season, the talk of the town was all the transfers Ole Miss picked out of the portal and USC transfer Dart was atop that long list of talented players that Kiffin picked up.
The numbers say that Dart had an average season for the Rebels, but upon a deeper dive, people will realize that this young man had a great first season in Oxford.
Dart transferred to Ole Miss having no clue if he would start on opening day, and the young man led this team to a top 10 spot at its peak. Unfortunately, the season did not end as pictured, but it was impressive to see Dart weather the storm that is the SEC and learn from his mistakes.
The future is not bleak.
Many people feel that this brutal end to the season is a sign of a rebuild for Ole Miss, but that could not be further from the truth.
The first three quarters against Texas Tech were terrible, but the fourth quarter alone is enough to give Rebel fans hope for next season. Coupled with the incoming recruiting and transfer classes, Ole Miss will retool rather than rebuild for next season.
Dart is returning, star running back Quinshon Judkins is only a freshman, and Zach Evans has another year of eligibility, so there is a lot to look forward to, mainly more experience, with the 2023 Ole Miss Rebels.