Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Keys to the Game: Sugar Bowl 2016

Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics
Photo by Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics

Jack Welch once said, “You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.”

The time has finally come for the Rebels to execute what they have prepared all season for. The obstacles and the triumphs throughout the season have led them here at the Sugar Bowl. All that is left to see if Coach Freeze and his Rebels take care of business against the Okie State Cowboys this evening in the Superdome.

I firmly believe that in games like the Sugar Bowl that most bets are off, especially when it comes to rankings and statistical elements apparently being the sole factors in determining ahead of time on which team will prevail.

In games like tonight, we will see a collision of two different forces, battling to see whose game plan has better tactics. This game will take more than just a few tricks to go through one quarter, much less prevail with a win. This game will have to be won both on the field and in the air. This game needs to be played with raw intensity until the clock runs out.

The Rebels have studied the film, made the adjustments and filled the holes. Now all that is left for them is to play the four full quarters of football. They must never falter even when they may feel Oklahoma State has the upper hand.

This season may not be what we hoped for, but it is a season the Rebels can be proud of. It’s been a heck of a season, and here is my last but first of edition of the Rebels’ Sugar Bowl Keys to the Game.

The Kelly Factor

Early on before he made his debut, many skeptics doubted he could change his ways. Well, folks, talk about a player who came to show the Rebel Nation, his coach and the team that he could change for the better.

He had made spectacular plays as a leader and an offensive staple for the Rebels. The Rebels need to continue to feed off Kelly’s fire. Chad Kelly needs to be in plays where he can utilize his multi-dimensional abilities as not just a quarterback but an athlete. This strategy will allow him to do what he does best as well create an early momentum for the Rebels not only on the run game but also on the passing game.

If Kelly continues to throw to Treadwell and Adeboyejo, the Rebels could strike gold this evening.

There is no doubt Kelly will be a target in the Sugar Bowl. The Oklahoma State’s defense will try to rattle him. The Rebels’ offensive line will need to be on their toes, ready to prevent the Cowboys from breaking their stronghold. If the Rebels are successful in holding back Oklahoma State, then Ole Miss can execute unstoppable plays.

Limiting the Landshark

Unfortunately, the Landshark Defense has not been close to what Ole Miss needed this season. The Rebels will have to do their best to not rely solely on the defense tonight. Robert Nkemdiche and Tony Conner’s absences will create a considerable void on the defensive front seven, which is not what the Rebels need against a team that utilizes aerial assaults and a dual quarterback system.

Just Play

Tonight, all the lessons the Rebels have learned this season can be used to an advantage for all four quarters in the Sugar Bowl.

This game is more than a win for the Rebels; they’re playing for something more than a trophy. They’re playing for each other, for the Ole Miss fans, and a legacy passed on from Ole Miss greats.

Lee Ann Herring-jpgs-0601

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at

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