Bo Wallace

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Just one week after Mack Brown demoted defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and brought in the familiar face of Greg Robinson, the Longhorns fell once again to a non-conference opponent. Texas opens up the season 1-2 for the first time since 1998 — Brown’s first year. Here are four things that stood out from Saturday’s game:

Robinson’s new defense

New is used very loosely in that title. While Robinson only had less than a week to improve a defense that was in a state of turmoil, it looked like little had improved on Saturday evening. On Ole Miss’ first two drives, the Longhorns were unable to stop quarterback Bo Wallace and allowed them to get up by two scores. In the second quarter, flashes of a solid Texas defense showed its face, but only lasted minimal time.

Robinson’s defense gave up 449 yards of total offense — over 100 yards more than he gave up on average per game in 2004. Once again the Longhorns were unable to stop the run game, which tallied a total of six touchdowns for the Rebels. Jeff Scott of Ole Miss ran for 164 yards with an average of 8.6 yards per carry.

Missed Opportunities

Texas had many opportunities to get on the board but were unable to capitalize. With 39 seconds left in the first half, Ole Miss took over on its own 28-yard line. The Rebels were able to drive down to Texas’ 35 and set up a 52-yard field goal from Andrew Ritter to give Ole Miss momentum going into halftime.

Also in the second quarter, Texas was able to force an Ole Miss turnover in the red zone and advanced to the goal line, drawing a pass interference. With the ball on the two-yard line, the Longhorns committed two false start penalties that pushed the team back ten yards. Texas had to settle for a field goal, which took away four points the team desperately needed.

Trouble of slow starts not a problem Saturday

In Texas’ first two games, a main concern was the problem of slow starts for the Longhorns. Although Texas did get down by 14 points in the first quarter, they were able to generate offensive production and talks of a slow start were thrown out.

This week, it was the opposite for the Longhorns. After a solid first half in which they came out on top, Texas finished poorly and was unable to carry its production throughout the whole game. Instead, the Longhorns surrendered 27 unanswered points in the second half.

Turnovers not a problem

In the last two games, the Longhorns have only committed one turnover. That came Saturday night when Malcolm Brown knocked the ball out of Case McCoy’s hand, causing a fumble, which was recovered up by Ole Miss. The Longhorns have now been outscored 84-44 in their last two contests despite only turning over the ball once.

This feat says something to the fact that Texas has had extreme difficulty on the defensive side of the ball. Missed tackles along with a severe lack in run defense have become problematic for the Longhorns.

Just like last season, Ole Miss enters a matchup with Texas siting at 2-0. However, the Rebels aren’t the same team the Longhorns saw in last season’s 66-31 blowout.

Instead, the 25th-ranked Rebels are a squad basking in confidence after a strong finish to 2012 and a Top 10 ranked signing class. On the other hand, the Longhorns are looking to stop the bleeding after a shocking 40-21 loss at BYU last weekend.

“We’re excited to be 2-0 and to be going to Austin,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “It will be a great atmosphere, and [Texas] will have a chip on their shoulder. Texas will be ready to prove that they are better than they performed last week. We 
understand what we’ll get from them. We’ll have to challenge our kids to see if we can raise our game and match Texas’ level of intensity.”

Last year, matching the level of intensity and physicality was a challenge for Ole Miss. Texas put up 676 total yards, including 350 yards on the ground in last year’s contest, and it was the first failed test of the Freeze era 
in Oxford.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace called last year’s game with the Longhorns “overwhelming” earlier in the week, but he also added the Rebels are more prepared going into a big matchup.

And why shouldn’t they be?

Wallace and Co. have been through the gauntlet that is the Southeastern Conference Western Division since then.

But most importantly, the Ole Miss offense relies heavily on one play: the read option – which happens to be what broke the back of the Texas defense that gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU.

“That’s what we do,” Wallace said of the read option. “As long as we execute, we feel like we’re going to get some yards.”

In six quarters of action this season, Wallace has led Ole Miss to 70 points and six of the Rebels nine touchdowns this year have come from the read option. So there’s little doubt Freeze’s offense feels it’s up to the challenge come Saturday, but on the defensive side of the ball, it’s a different story.

Ole Miss remains extremely thin in the secondary, so Texas should test the Rebel corners with deep balls early and often like last year. On the ground, Ole Miss is better suited to slow down the Longhorn running backs.

The Rebel defensive line returns some key pieces from last year and added the No. 1 overall recruit in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who has started the first two games of the year. Still, the front seven for Ole Miss will be tested Saturday night.

Despite the distractions surrounding Texas’ program, the Longhorns still have to be the team to beat.

However, it shouldn’t be the same blowout game as last year. Freeze will have his team ready to play, and if Texas gets down on itself, it could mean a big win for Ole Miss.

QB Bo Wallace (Jr.)

Last season Texas did an excellent job of shutting down the Ole Miss signal-caller, holding him to only 178 yards passing and three interceptions. But that was perhaps his worst game of the year. Bo Wallace has started his 2013 campaign with impressive numbers in the first two games after compiling 2,994 passing yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Wallace is a big and experienced quarterback who can make plays out of the pocket if he needs to. He has amassed 63 yards and two touchdowns on the ground this season to go along with 471 yards on 62.9 percent passing. Texas showed last weekend that they can be susceptible to the run if utilized effectively so it should definitely be aware of Wallace’s ability to tuck and run if his receivers can’t fight to get open. Wallace will have every opportunity to exploit the Longhorns defense after an embarrassing performance last weekend.

 

DB Cody Prewitt (Jr.)

The Ole Miss defense has given up just 459 passing yards in its first two games of this season and defensive back Cody Prewitt has been the man buying the secondary. Prewitt has two interceptions to go along with 14 tackles and one forced fumble this season. Last season Prewitt had just two interceptions the entire season but was able to rack up 80 tackles. Prewitt is a bruising defender at 220 pounds and is capable of getting anywhere on the field where a tackle needs to be made. Look for the Rebels to throw a few different looks at the Longhorns to disrupt their rushing attack like the Cougars were able to do. If the defense can force David Ash to make quick throws, Prewitt could make the Longhorns pay.

 

DE Robert Nkemdiche (Fr.)

Robert Nkemdiche was the No. 1 high school football recruit of the Class of 2013 and he will be looking to prove why against Texas. Nkemdiche is a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 294 pounds but has the athleticism of a linebacker. He had posted just seven tackles in his first two college games but three of those have been in the backfield. Though Nkemdiche is young, his combination of size and speed will be difficult for the Texas offensive line to deal with. Nkemdiche, who also played running back in high school, even has an 11-yard carry on offense. Texas needs to keep Nkemdiche out of the backfield as he will be looking to prove himself with the step up in competition for the Rebels.

Bo Wallace

By far the best opposing player the Longhorns have faced this season, sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace is a player that must be contained for the Longhorns to find success. Wallace is a dual-threat quarterback, similar to Brad Smith of Wyoming, who is as talented with his arm as he is with his legs. He enters this game with a 76-percent completion rate to go along with five passing touchdowns and a lone interception. He’s also carried the ball 24 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, Wallace is of premier size for the quarterback position, and can see his receivers perfectly to dissect opposing defenses. Wallace is also a transfer from East Mississippi Junior College who received some attention from the Longhorns in January when on the recruiting trail. Although he hasn’t faced a defense like the Longhorns’ yet, his numbers make him a player that needs to be watched, and certainly respected.


Donte Moncrief

Sophomore Donte Moncrief has proven already that he has made big improvements from his first season. With 176 receiving yards in two games, Moncrief has already eclipsed a fourth of the yards he had all of last season. At 6-foot-2, and 214 pounds, Moncrief isn’t a huge receiver but has already become a favorite target of Wallace, hauling in two of Wallace’s five touchdown passes this season. Moncrief will enter this game as the leading receiver from either team, with 11 receptions on the year. Expect to see him targeted often as the 1-2 punch of Wallace and Moncrief will look to find weaknesses in Manny Diaz’s defense.


Mike Marry

Junior linebacker Mike Marry is a defensive player that the Longhorns should look out for when making their offensive game plan for Saturday. Marry entered this season as the leading tackler for the Rebels, accumulating 80 tackles last season. He enters week three against the Longhorns coming off an impressive performance against UTEP, where he compiled eight tackles and a sack. He will definitely use every bit of his big frame to plug the holes that the Longhorn runners like to capitalize on every week. If there is a player who the Texas offensive line should look to keep out of the backfield, it’s Marry.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. This should be the mindset for the Longhorns as they head to Mississippi to try to take the running game away from the Rebels.

Texas has proven that it can stick to the game plan as they shut down the athletes of Wyoming and New Mexico. If the Longhorns want to stay undefeated however, containment will be the key once again.


Contain the Run(ner)

After two successful weeks, the Longhorns will again be faced with a tough dual-threat quarterback who can beat them with his legs, or arm given the opportunity. Texas should know all about sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, who it gave a solid look in January when Wallace was collecting offers as a potential JUCO transfer. Wallace leads the Rebels in rushing yards this season and looks to be every bit capable of torching any defense that doesn’t stick to their assignments. He has also completed 76 percent of his passes so the defensive unit of the Longhorns will also need to contain his ability to make throws. As a team the Rebels are averaging 238 rushing yards a game, which means Texas should likely take their chances with Wallace’s passing ability. The defensive line needs to plug the running lanes to allow the defensive backs to keep doing work when Wallace is forced to throw the football.


Test the Secondary

The Rebels should prove to be the Longhorns’ biggest test thus far, as their defense will provide the most fight Texas has seen. The Rebels currently rank 44th in the country in points allowed, giving up just over 18 a game through two weeks of football. Despite this solid statistic, 27 points were given up to a non-BCS opponent in Central Arkansas. The defensive unit of Ole Miss is armed with a talented group of defensive backs, but the Longhorns should do their best to test this talent early and often. Freshman safety Trae Elston will be suspended for this game against the Longhorns after a dirty hit in week two against UTEP, which should allow David Ash to feast in his absence. The only way to find out if a defense is legitimate is to test it through the air and see how it responds. Ash should look to put the Rebels up against the ropes by throwing at the defensive backs as often as possible.


Crowd the Line

The Ole Miss offense has a very experienced offense line, with five linemen who each started at least six games last season. They have proven capable of blocking for an offense that currently ranks in the top 50 in passing yards and top 10 in rushing yards through two weeks of this season. It’s already been established that the Longhorns need to contain Bo Wallace, but in order to make a statement they need to pressure the Rebels’ offensive line and make them block on every play. If the defense can stack the line and supply constant pressure, the Ole Miss offensive line will most likely wear down given its run-happy system. To contain Wallace the Longhorns have to penetrate the line with constant pressure. Texas needs to rush often to wear down the offensive line and wreak havoc on Wallace and running backs alike.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace played for East Mississippi Community College before transferring to play for the Rebels, where he is 2-0 as the team’s starter this season.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

David Ash is now in the driver’s seat of the Texas offense. But Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace could have been the one starting for the Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium last weekend.

Wallace, a junior-college transfer, was recruited by Texas this winter but did not receive an offer. Now he is behind center for Ole Miss, which currently holds a 2-0 record.

Wallace and Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin spoke a few times, but he was not offered a scholarship. Harsin and Wallace’s conversations helped them get to know one another, but Harsin decided it was more prudent to work with Ash and Case McCoy.

“[We] felt like the direction we needed to go was with the guys that we have and stick with that,” Harsin said.

Harsin said there were some unanswered questions about the offense at that time when he was getting to know Wallace.

Ash, being a freshman at the time, and McCoy, a sophomore, still had a lot of time to develop. So Harsin stuck with his men and didn’t go with the quick fix.

“We decided and kind of sat back and looked at it again with kind of the big picture of where we are and where we were going, and we decided that what we had was the right thing to do and to focus on that and not get into something else,” Harsin said.

Ash wasn’t aware of Wallace’s recruitment but has been impressed by what he’s done so far this season.

“I didn’t really know anything about it,” Ash said. “From what I can tell you, he’s an outstanding quarterback.”

After beating out Barry Brunetti for the starting job at Ole Miss, Wallace has an average of 219 yards per game and completed 76 percent of his passes in two games. Ole Miss defeated UTEP 28-10 and University of Central Arkansas 49-27 the week before.

Last year at East Mississippi Community College, he led the team — of which Texas defensive tackle Brandon Moore was also a member of — to an undefeated season and set an NJCAA single-season records for passing yards (4,604), total yards (4,810) and touchdown passes (53).

Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is preparing his defense for what should be its toughest test yet.

“You can watch on tape what he’s doing when he carries himself,” Diaz said. “He can make bad plays, good plays for them. What he’s also doing is he’s not making bad plays disasters.”

Safety Kenny Vaccaro sees Wallace as a dual-threat quarterback. But because of the lack of a Longhorn offer, there’s something else that worries him.

“I’m sure he’ll have a chip on his shoulder,” Vaccaro said.

Printed on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 as: Wallace once recruited by Texas