October 25, 2013 11:08:20 AM
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze has high standards for his quarterbacks.
So even after Bo Wallace threw for 346 yards in an upset 27-24 win over then-No. 6 LSU on Saturday, Freeze said there were "two things to complain about" from his performance.
Wallace only knew about one of them -- a missed opportunity to connect on a pass with Donte Moncrief.
"I don't know what the other one is," Wallace said. "But I'm sure he's right."
Freeze might be hard to please, but even he could admit Wallace played one of the best games of his college career against LSU.
The numbers don't lie: The 6-foot-4 junior was 30 of 39 and led the Rebels on a 14-play drive late in the fourth quarter that set up the game-winning field goal. He had several clutch third-down conversions, including three on that final drive.
Wallace is in his second season as the starter and has become much better at avoiding mistakes. He threw 17 interceptions during the 2012 season, but has just three so far this year through seven games. He's also fourth in the Southeastern Conference with 1,790 passing yards.
And as usual, his infectious energy and competitive nature that Freeze says is a must.
"We're not ready to be the biggest, fastest and strongest right now, but we can play with the most passion," Freeze said. "I set the tone with our staff every day in the staff meeting. They get tired of hearing me, but I remind them every day of the one expectation I have. It starts with us and we have to pass that expectation on to our young men."
After a brutal first-half schedule, Ole Miss (4-3) has some easier opponents down the stretch, including Saturday's home game against Idaho (1-6).
The Rebels' three losses have come against No. 1 Alabama, No. 11 Auburn and No. 13 Texas A&M. Ole Miss has beaten LSU, Texas and Vanderbilt.
"I don't think anyone has played a tougher schedule in the country then the team's we played," Wallace said. "Anytime you can get rid of those guys, it's a relief."
An easier game against the Vandals could give the Rebels some time to rework their roster after losing two key players to injuries.
Ole Miss lost starting tight end Evan Engram for the season because of an ankle injury during the LSU game. The news came just days after starting defensive end C.J. Johnson was also lost for the season because of ankle issues.
Engram was a huge surprise for the Rebels this season. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound freshman jumped up the depth chart in preseason camp and was fourth on the team with 20 catches for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
"He was on track to be a freshman All-American," Freeze said. "He had already broken the school freshman tight end record. It's difficult. He's a tremendous kid. He was very important to our scheme. We don't have another one that's like him."
Wallace says Engram's absence will change the offense and the Rebels would have to get more production out of guys like Nick Parker -- who caught the first touchdown pass of his career against LSU on Saturday.
He said the adjustment is one of many reasons the Rebels won't be looking past Idaho this weekend.
"As big as the win (over LSU) for our team and the fans, it we don't show up against Idaho it really doesn't mean anything," Wallace said.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP
1. Self back after layoff with two new pitches COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Mangum, five Ole Miss players earn All-SEC honors COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Alabama women's golf team will play for national title COLLEGE SPORTS
4. MSU has top seeds in NCAA tennis tournament COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Mistakes cost MSU in loss to LSU at SEC tournament COLLEGE SPORTS