All posts by Acey Roberts

Acey is from the Jackson, MS area with an engineering degree from Ole Miss (the oldest engineering program in “Our State”), but doesn’t let his day job prevent him from displaying his passion for Ole Miss and SEC sports. While waiting for the day Ole Miss Football returns to glory, he objectively comments on the current news of the day. Acey is one of the founders of MakeItRainSports, contributing articles at Bleacher Reports and Fansided as well as Co-Hosts the MakeItRainSports and The Season Ticket radio shows on the VsportoNetwork. Loves BBQ and female fitness instructors; Hates commas and LSU. Follow on twitter @Aceyrob
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Chasing 1962: Ole Miss Is In Search For New Glory Days

Ole Miss dismantled the Tennessee Volunteers in Oxford saturday night 34-3. (Game Recap) Tennessee is a team that had won 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two teams, a team that won the first BCS national title, a team with a 100,000 seat stadium and one of the best funded programs in all of college football.

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The winning team from Mississippi has a stadium that seats just over 60,000 and an operating budget approximately half as large as Tennessee.

This is not supposed to happen. You just can’t get enough quality players to Mississippi right? This state is already one of the smallest in the league and we have to share players with Mississippi State. Ole Miss and MSU will never be able to compete, right? It’s just the facts.

(Read this article at OleHottyToddy.com)

Well, as we have seen, what is likely is not always absolute. The 10% chance is happening. The improbable lightning strike has struck, twice actually.

Ole Miss has not been 7-0 since 1962 a year when they went undefeated for the year at 10-0, a year that has been much discussed for the athletic prowess on the field but also for their ability to overcome the distractions off the field (which may have been a bigger accomplishment).

(See UT/Ole Miss preview video from WBIR – Knoxville, TN)

The 2014 accomplishments for the Rebs are similar in more than just the record. The current team is strikingly similar to the glory days of the 60’s. Both teams were proficient at passing with a dominant defense. Both teams also led the SEC as Ole Miss was the only undefeated team in ’62 at 10-0, and the current team at 7-0 has a half-game lead as MSU had a bye this week.

Glynn Griffing was a co-captain quarterback on the ’62 team and was selected in 2012 as an SEC Legends class.

He was a first team All-American, All-SEC and was MVP of the Sugar Bowl as the Rebels beat Arkansas 17-13 and helped his team win a share of the national championship.

Statistically, Griffing had 882 total yards passing (4th in SEC) and 11 touchdowns (3rd in SEC).

Comparatively; Bo Wallace, after 7 games, has 1,899 passing yards (2nd in SEC) and 17 touchdowns (2nd in SEC).

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Louis Guy was the other co-captain and an All-SEC senior wingback in 1962 who lead the team in receptions from Glynn Griffing. He had 24 receptions in 1962 (4th in SEC) and 5 receiving touchdowns (1st in SEC).

The 2014 leading receiver is Laquon Treadwell with 34 receptions (5th in SEC) and 4 touchdowns (7th in SEC).

The 1962 defense, like the 2014 defense was one of the best in the nation as they gave up only 5.3 points per game, good enough for 3rd best in the SEC. After seven games the 2014 Ole Miss defense has allowed 10.6 points per game which is the best in the nation currently.

In an era where most players played on both offense and defense, running back Buck Randall would average over 4 yards a carry on offense then stay on the field as an outside linebacker to suffocate opposing teams.

The 1962 Ole Miss team finished ranked in several polls as the best team in the nation but the AP poll gave the top honor to Southern California who also finished 10-0 and gave the Rebels a number 3 ranking, the same ranking the 2014 team currently holds.

There is a lot of work left to do for Coach Hugh Freeze’s team and if they can finish the road left in front of them they would be the first team to win the new playoff format and they would have to win 15 games if they go undefeated, not just 10 or 11 as in 1962.

The first year of playoffs will give teams a chance to win a championship on the field rather than be subjected to voters opinions.

If the Rebels get through this year undefeated at 15-0 you could easily make a case that not only would they be the best team in 2014, but they could lay claim to the best single season ever played in the history of college football.

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Is Ole Miss Entering a New Era in the SEC?

For all the talk about up tempo offenses and old school vs new school football, it always comes down to players making plays.

(Article appeared originally at OleHottyToddy.com)

No matter what offense you run, you have to move the ball, but you don’t have to run between the tackles to do that.  You actually don’t have to run much at all.  Freeze likes to pass out in the flats, use screens and passes to the tight end.  A lot of those plays are extended handoffs.

Ole Miss only had 72 yards rushing with 32 coming from QB Bo Wallace.  One thing you do need no matter your offense is a defense to give you a chance.  And boy what a defense Dave Wommack has in Oxford.

The “Land Sharks” only gave up one touchdown to the best offense in the SEC.  Ole Miss knocked off the #1 ranked Nick Saban led Crimson Tide 23-17 in a slug fest where injuries were common and the pre-game atmosphere was down right distracting.

TJ Yeldon had 123 yards but Derrick Henry was bottled up by only getting 37.  Amari Cooper had 91 yards and tight end OJ Howard had significant yards with 81.

Most importantly, there was only one offensive touchdown and that was by a great run fake QB sneak by Blake Sims in the first half.

This Ole Miss defense has a knack of bending but not breaking and as the field gets compressed inside the 20, the pressure of the Land Shark defense becomes unbearable for opposing teams.

With the Hollywood noise and extra fans and media attention from ESPN’s gameday, it would have been easy to let the stage get too big, put too much pressure on yourself and make a mistake.

Bo Wallace has already done that.  Last year in Tuscaloosa, Bo got a taste of going scoreless against this Alabama team so he more than anyone understands the size of the stage he is playing on and he knows what to expect from the Alabama defense.

The only slight edge Ole Miss had “on paper” was the Alabama defensive secondary was giving up 75% of their total yards.  Thanks to his defense, Wallace had enough time at halftime to discuss a game plan for the second half after only scoring 3 points in the first half.  Bo and his deep fleet of receivers ran their patterns and were just a little bit better than the Alabama defenders.  Not by much, but they started to find a small window for Bo to pass through.

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The margin of error was very small and on perhaps the biggest game in Ole Miss history, Bo came through with 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and no fumbles.  To me that was the key to the game.

Ole Miss was able to overcome one fumble from RB MAthers that should have been a face mask penalty but they fought through it and forced two turnovers of their own.

With traditional powers LSU and Alabama going down over the last two weeks, it may be time for a new team to step up into the spotlight.  Saban and Miles won’t coach forever.

But Coach Freeze will have to fight even harder to keep this moment.  It won’t be given to anyone and on this night Bo Wallace and the Rebels stood their ground when it counted and found just enough offense to win their first game over a #1 ranked team in Ole Miss history.

The road is just beginning for Ole Miss.  In the SEC, any team can take you down.  But for now, Ole Miss is in the spotlight at 5-0 and on top of the college football world.

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OleHottyToddy: Thanks To The 2014 Ole Miss Baseball Seniors

OleMissSports’ video group RebelVision.com has released an epic hour and a half video recap of the Ole Miss baseball post-season which is without question the best season in the school’s history.  Watch the full video here –> OLEMISS THE SEASON: OMAHA BOUND

Lets take a look at the accomplishments from this year’s senior class and remember them fondly.  HOTTY TODDY!

(Read the original article at OleHottyToddy.com)

Will Allen

Senior catcher from Gainsville, Florida had a break-out season and became a national star in the College World Series. Besides his good hair and his rugged beard stubble, he was a pretty good baseball player too.

Allen finished with the best batting average on the team at .339 among starters. He was also first in doubles (24), second in hits (94) and second in home runs (7).

He started every game this year either at catcher or DH and most importantly was a team leader that should be remembered for this stirring dugout speech in the Oxford regional that helped beat Washington and his sensational tag out at the plate in Lafayette that allowed Ole Miss to finally get to Omaha.

Austin Anderson

The senior utility infielder from Sorrento, Florida settled at third base this year and became a rock solid defender late in the year.

At the plate he finished third overall in batting average (.323), second in runs scored (57) and third in hits (87).

John Gatlin

John started out at Itawamba Community College and is originally from the Tupelo area. John has battled through a lot of injuries to help this team win in Omaha. His pinch hit looper over a drawn in Texas Tech infield will make him a Rebel Hero and will get him a lot of free drinks from now on in Oxford.

In 2013, he tore a ligament in his left shoulder diving for a ball then broke his foot… then he broke his foot again during rehab.

Finally towards the end of this year, he was able to start making a move back in the batting lineup. He had 29 at bats this year and only had three hits total.

Aaron Greenwood        

The 6’-4” senior right hander from Lewisburg, MS appeared in 22 games this year as a relief pitcher, recording a 3-2 record with 5 saves, including a save in the Oxford regional over Washington, an elimination game win in Lafayette in the Super Regional and another save over TCU in Omaha.

Greenwood holds a 2.03 earned run average in 44.1 innings pitched. Opponents hit only .193 against him.

A cartilage tear in his abdomen earlier this year almost prevented his post season heroics. He missed a few weeks at the end of the season but when he got a chance to be on the mound again, he made the most of it.

Aaron Greenwood put this team on his back this year.

Jeremy Massie

Massie was instrumental this year in mid week and weekend relief. The left hander from Sardis, MS transferred to Ole Miss in 2013 from NorthWest CC.

He appeared in 21 games this year, starting nine and finished with a 4-3 record. He was third on the team in total innings pitched (63.2) and finished with a 2.69 earned run average.

Preston Overbey

Senior Preston Overbey has been the consummate utility player during his time as a Rebel. He has been a player without a home, playing catcher, outfield, third base, first, and finally settled at second base this year with the addition of Errol Robinson at short which moved Austin Anderson to third.

The 6’-4” Jackson, Tennessee native did not completely break out at the plate this year, finishing with a .271 average but his contributions in post season, when the team needed a leader, set his senior season apart. Also the spectacular double plays he was a part of with Errol Robinson should not be forgotten either.

Preston’s shining moment this year was in game two of the Lafayette Super Regional.

With the game tied 1 to 1 in the seventh inning and the Rebels absolutely needing some offense, Preston stepped up and pounded a 1-2 pitch to left field. While it was only his fourth home run of the season it saved the season for the Rebels and continued their path to Omaha.

Overbey like a lot of seniors on this team has gone from a largely unknown player to one who was sought out by autograph seekers in Omaha.

When the team bus pulled up at Omaha, the team was swamped at their hotel by Ole Miss fans. “It’s always enjoyable. I love every minute of it. It makes you feel important, but at the same time you have to know how to handle it,” Overbey says.

“We walk down the street and people say ‘Hotty Toddy!’ to us. It seemed like the whole city of Omaha was pulling for Ole Miss.”

This team was not expected to make this much noise but thanks to this group of Seniors, Mike Bianco has deemed this team as , “The best team to ever play at Ole Miss.”

via @PetrePhotog

Rebels Advance in Omaha over Texas Tech

Sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re nail.

(Read original article at OleHottyToddy.com)

The Rebels stay alive in the Omaha College World Series, eliminating Texas Tech 2-1 with bottom of the ninth heroics. Fifth-year senior John Gatlin comes off the bench and delivers the improbable clutch hit over six infielders awaiting a bunt that never came.

As the game unfolded, Tech chose to start a freshman Ryan Moseley who only had four starts on the season. It appeared Tech was content on pitching the pen against Ole Miss and holding their Saturday starter Dylan Dusek for a potential Thursday game.

There will be no Thursday game for the Red Raiders and Tech coach Tim Tadlock will have to think all off-season if Dusek would have made a difference.

Ole Miss head baseball coach Mike Bianco chose to throw his Saturday starter even though on paper this looked to be a matchup very much in Ole Miss’ favor. Of course we don’t play baseball games on paper and this turned into a pitcher’s dual that Ole Miss was fortunate to ‘eek out.

Bianco may be the most criticized coach in America; certainly, among the coaches still playing in Omaha. Every decision Bianco makes (or doesn’t make) is endlessly discussed and questioned among fans and rivals of the program.

While there are many reasons why this seems to be the case, one thing you have to realize as a fan is that coaches don’t have near the control that we, as fans, wish they had on the field.

It would be great if you could play “Money Ball,” play the percentages and your best hitters hit RBI’s and your best pitches get strikeouts.

But that is not always the case.

This week in Omaha, Bianco has had to get real creative. He has had to make some hard decisions, where maybe there was not a good decision.

Certainly, the loss to Virginia was a tough one and many felt like coaches’ choice to pitch to Virginia’s best hitter cost them the game.

Today, Bianco again made another questionable decision pinch hitting for JB Woodman with Colby Bortles and pulling Will Jamison for fifth-year senior John Gatlin, who was batting a cool .103 on the season.

The Colby Bortles call was a no-brainer, a freshman who has been on a tear over the last month as a pinch hitter, but the John Gatlin call; a right hander against a bullpen right hander Dominic Moreno was a shot in the dark honestly.

So many things happen in a game.

If Tech pitcher Cameron Smith doesn’t double pump to second base, Bortles would have been the first of an inning ending double play and Bianco wouldn’t have to make a decision at all.

As a manager, you can’t control everything. In my honest opinion you have to put your best guys out there (the best you have at the moment) and let the kids play.

That’s what this game is about. It’s about the players and putting them in the best position to be successful.

Thankfully for Bianco, he has guys like Holt Perdzock (who scored the first run of the game for OM at a pinch hitter) and Bortles and Gatlin just sitting around waiting for their turn to contribute. It’s not always about the obvious stars in the lineup. This team can and has won in the most unorthodox ways.

It may look like luck but it’s about getting pressure on the other team and letting the players decide who will win the game, and in most cases this year, Ole Miss has had the better players.

Bianco in postgame:

“Really proud of the way the guys responded. I’m really proud of their toughness and being able to respond when things don’t go their way. The guys were really composed going into the bottom of the ninth.”

On John Gatlin’s hit: “I like to see guys like Gatlin, that are great representatives of the University have success. Good things happen to good people.”

On starting pitcher Christian Trent who left after 7 innings with a 1-0 lead:  “Trent has always been so good in our swing game (Saturday). He is still undefeated, and really hasn’t had a bad outing. Even when he hasn’t had his best stuff he doesn’t get beat. There is not a better Saturday pitcher in America than Trent.”