Ole Miss offense clicking
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
October 13, 2003
OXFORD An offense loaded with potential may finally be paying dividends for Ole Miss.
The Rebels dismantled Arkansas State 55-0 on Saturday for their second 50-point output in a month, having beaten Louisiana-Monroe 59-14 on Sept. 13. While both wins came against lowly non-conference opponents, the latest blowout win showed more balance from the Rebels offense.
Quarterback Eli Manning looked sharp, completing 23 of 36 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. The Ole Miss running backs rushed for 192 yards the fourth straight game that they've rolled up at least 160 yards. The Rebels' 170 rushing yards per game is ranked third in the conference, and their average of 336 yards through the air is tops in the league and fifth-best in the nation.
And still, Ole Miss offensive coordinator John Latina said his players are not yet at their peaks.
By the time the final minutes arrived, the Rebels' first and second teams were already done for the day. Backup signal caller Micheal Spurlock had 84 yards and a touchdown on 4-for-4 passing, and even third-string quarterback Ethan Flatt saw time.
While they left after the third quarter, the Ole Miss starters put up plenty of big numbers. Manning and senior wideout Chris Collins hooked up eight times for 146 yards and a touchdown, including a 40-yard reception on the Rebels' first offensive play.
That means Ole Miss will continue to lean on Manning, whose 1,897 passing yards has him on pace to break the Rebels' single season passing record a mark he has bested in both his previous years as a starter.
Manning realizes, though, that even if the offense has improved, the Rebels are not likely to have many 55-0 victories in their next six Southeastern Conference matchups.