- The Defense. Second straight game allowing less than 200 yards offense.
- Pressure on the QB. Are we finally comfortable running the 3-4? We brought pressure from multiple spots with multiple players. We dropped Abry Jones into underneath coverage more than once (he almost got a pick on a tipped pass). We played stifling pass defense, with two very notable exceptions. We got stronger as the game wore on. Very happy with the defense.
- Coaching. Going to Mitchell right after he got a hold that negated a long run was genius. The game plan was well thought out and we deviated from it to keep doing what worked. The only gripe I have is that we didn't try to put another TD on the board when we were in the red zone early in the 4th quarter, instead opting for merely running the ball and the clock.
- Richard Samuel catching passes. For all his flaws as a ball carrier, he is that good as a receiver.
- Carlton Thomas' pass blocking. If Crowell learns to block like Thomas, he'll be as complete a running back as Moreno. Thomas pass blocks like a much bigger guy.
- Run blocking. Crowell and Thomas both made plenty of second effort yardage, but they were doing so after rushing 5 yards untouched. The 29 yard Crowell run on 3rd and 9 from the Georgia 2 yard line was the best blocked run play we've had all season.
- Guys getting into the game due to injuries and ballin'. Gilliard, Vasser, Bennett, and Lee come to mind immediately.
- Edge contain. Yes, Ole Miss only gained 34 yards rushing (the running backs had more like 60 on 16 attempts), but the edge players were bailed out time and again by Williams and Rambo. Washington and Vasser had a couple of nice stops, but both sucked inside too often. Oh, and before anyone comments about the long swing pass that the holding penalty negated, I say without the hold, that is a two yard gain, at most.
- This is a corollary to the previous statement, but the defense's ability to read where the ball is has to improve. Weis will eat us alive with Demps and Rainey. Johnson will do so with all of his offensive players.
- Droppsies. Some were on Murray due to poor throws. More were on the receivers. Troupe and King both dropped balls that were just about as easy catches as you would expect. Charles and Bennett both missed balls that hit them in the hands, as well.
- Special teams. I'm not talking about Walsh's misses (although, since I brought it up...), I'm talking about punt coverage and onside kicks. On the season, we have given up a TD to Rerun on a fake punt. We have given up a TD on a punt return reverse that I heard people in the stands yelling about before the ball was fielded. Don't get me started with the onside kick stuff. Also, we don't set up punt returns or rush the punter well.
Overall, this is the kind of game that in the last couple of years would have likely been an utter nail biter. Ole Miss is about as good as last year's Colorado team, but they are certainly better than 2009 Arizona State team that we had to beg, steal and borrow to beat on a last second field goal.
I'd also like to make a note about Crowell and how his running changed later in the game. Of course, it changed. He ran the ball double the number of times he ran in any one game this season. It is easy for me to judge that, but the fact of the matter is he is an 18 year old that has to do many, many things for his game to be where we, his coaches, and he want it to be. Learning what it feels like to get 25+ carries is important for him to know what he has to improve. Judging from Boise State to now, any reason to think he won't?