For good or bad, quarterback Bo Wallace has been the primary difference-maker for the No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels this season. His play has dictated how well the team plays each week. The trend continued during the first half against the No. 3 Auburn Tigers.
Ole Miss’ leads 17-14 at halftime, and Wallace made the plays needed against an explosive Tigers squad to give his team an edge.
Wallace has been under fire through the first two quarters. The Rebels are without the services of supremely talented left tackle Laremy Tunsil,, who didn’t play in the first half due to a shoulder injury according to AuburnUndercover.com’s Justin Hokanson.
The quarterback has certainly felt the pressure, and he’s stepped up and made plays with his legs.
“He’s scrambling,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze told ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe just before he went into the locker room. “We really haven’t called any runs. We had one called run. The rest have been based on when that clock goes off in his head he’s used his feet.”
Wallace leads all rushers with 55 yards on the ground even after being sacked multiple times. The bulk of the quarterback’s rushing yardage came during the defining play of the first half. As the pocket collapsed around Wallace, the quarterback escaped the rush and rumbled for 59 yards before being caught from behind. The run was aided by the blocking of wide receiver Laquon Treadwell.
Freeze decided to reward his receiver for his down-field blocking by calling a screen the next play to finish the drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception.
But it doesn’t take a Gus Malzahn offense long to strike. The Tigers responded on the very next drive as quarterback Nick Marshall completed a bomb to wide receiver Sammie Coates for a 57-yard touchdown.
Wallace stepped up again during the final drive of the half. The senior signal-caller was 3-of-3 passing to get his team into field goal position and take a slight lead.
Both Wallace and Marshall had their moments in the first half. Whichever of the two can continue to make plays in the second half while limiting mistakes will decide the game and provide a much clearer picture for the College Football Playoff.