If you’ve never been to New Orleans you should go. That place is different but it’s filled with things to do, places to go, and amazing food. This was my first trip to the Big Easy and it was action packed from start to finish. Being on Bourbon Street for New Year’s Eve and then off to the Sugar Bowl the next night will keep a man busy! It was really an amazing mini vacation except for one small part: the game.
For the better part of four hours on the first day of 2016, the Rebels of Ole Miss had their way with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They were better in every aspect of the game: coaching, effort, execution, tempo, ability … you name it. They even won the uniform game with those sweet blue helmet, which is even more impressive given OSU’s uniforms are usually on point, especially in bowls. They basically shucked the Pokes like oysters, a fitting analogy for NOLA.
Before I really get into the game I’d like to say something about Ole Miss, specifically the fan base. This was my third time to going to a bowl versus the Rebels and every time I’ve come away impressed with the people. I’ve had a great experience with them every time and that’s not something I can say about any other fan base. They leave the kind of impression on me that as a Cowboy’s fan I strive to leave on other fan bases.
Of course, the only impression the Rebel football team left was an impression of Mason Rudolph in the turf of the Super Dome. Ole Miss went through, over, and around OSU’s offensive line at will, pressuring the quarterback and stuffing the run. I had hoped that with a month off that aspect of the team would improve, but it’s obvious that the Cowboy line just isn’t any good. They were physically outclassed and it was glaring. Priority number one for Gundy and his staff has to be line, but that usually isn’t a quick fix. It would be a shame to waste a talent like Rudolph behind a line like that for four years.
I say waste because that’s what it would be. Rudolph is good, maybe great, and possibly SPECIAL. His stats for the game weren’t great, but that’s not his fault. A handful of long passes were negated by penalties and the normally excellent receiver group constantly dropped absolute dimes thrown to them. Mason would side step a blitzer, spin out of another tackle, roll out and throw a 20 yard bullet that would bounce off the receiver’s hands. I remember four 3rd down and longs where Rudolph should’ve bailed out the offense, but the receivers let him down. I can only think of two bad throws he had all night. Think about how good he could be with even average blocking and a decent running game.
Mason Rudolph is the kind of player you change offensive staffs because of. Look at the turnaround TCU had after switching it up to fit Boykin’s talents. Gundy needs to take a long look at Yurcich.
Spencer needs to be looked at as well because the defense didn’t fare any better. They couldn’t stop the run, they couldn’t cover the receivers, and they couldn’t pressure the quarterback consistently. They got to Chad Kelly a few times, but not enough to make up for everything else. When Ole Miss went up tempo on OK State, the Pokes were completely unprepared. It was obvious by the second half of the season that the opposition had figured out Spencer’s scheme and he couldn’t make the needed adjustments.
Also, hats off to Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell. He’s a full grown man who abused Kevin Peterson. And KP is an excellent cornerback!
The reality is that Oklahoma State was an 8-4 team that managed to go 10-2 because of some lucky breaks, and Ole Miss was a 10-2 team that went 9-3 because of a bad break. They were just a better team than the Cowboys, much like Baylor and OU were. Gundy has a big job ahead of him to get the team back to the championship contender level.
After all is said and done, Oklahoma State fans should still be proud of this team. They over achieved all year. They kept us all entertained with nail biters and comebacks. They beat some teams they shouldn’t have beat and played in a big boy bowl for the second time in five years. This is the best extended period of Oklahoma State football ever, and with a few tweaks it could be even better!
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