Alright…trying to get back in the groove here…
Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels
Kickoff: 12:20 PM
TV: SEC Game of the Week
Alright…off the schnide. This game should tell us a good bit about where we stand going forward. Are we the team that laid down against Boise State or are we the team that showed so much promise against South Carolina. We’ll know more Saturday, as we face the worst team in the SEC.
About the CC game…
Let’s not over-analyze this one, OK? Against an overmatched opponent we dropped the hammer and looked dominant on both sides of the ball. The team did what they were supposed to do. Not much more to ask for. I will say the play of Shawn Williams at LB was highly reassuring and that game was huge for him as he got to see time there in live action. While it’s certainly not an SEC road game, it’s a far cry from just doing it in practice. Getting that live experience is a big deal since we’ll be waltzing him into far tougher challenges in the coming two weeks until Christian Robinson returns.
Ole Miss Offense
- These guys are scraping on offense pretty bad. 98th in rushing offense (11th in the SEC), 109th in passing offense…115th in total offense? That’s really bad. Against a schedule consisting of BYU, Vandy and a FCS team, they’ve only managed these stats? This is the worst the Ole Miss offense has looked in a long, long time.
- The Ole Miss QB situation isn’t great. A pair of JUCO transfers are splitting the load back there, one (Stoudt) the pocket passer, the other (Mackey) is more of a running threat. Neither has been particularly effective, guiding an offense that’s pretty subpar by most metrics and flat awful by all others. Stoudt’s completing just over 50% of his passes but for barely 130 ypg and his 2-5 TD-INT ratio is pretty bad on the early season considering they’ve yet to hit the meat of the schedule.
- To Ole Miss’ credit, they are facing some injury issues at RB. Sr Brandon Bolden has been banged up and only has 12 carries on the year. He was the team’s leading rusher last year and averaged 6 ypc so he’s got some talent. Former Auburn super commitment Enrique Davis has battled injuries and has never lived up to his hype at this spot to help offset the load. Smallish sophomore Jeff Scott has helped shoulder the load but at 5-7, 175 he’s not a real workhorse. He carried it 15 times last week for only 43 yards.
- The Rebel WR group is young, with two underclassmen slated to start this week in Sophomore James Logan and freshman Donte Moncrief. Both have good size. They spread the ball around a good bit but this group is still developing. Over half of Moncrief’s 82 yards on the season came on a 47-yd TD in the last few minutes against Vandy.
- The Ole Miss OL has done a great job of protecting the QB, ranking 2nd in the SEC in sacks allowed. They’re a massive lot, with the smallest guy being 311. Former UGA recruiting target Bobby Massie anchors the RT spot and is somehow only a junior. Seems like we recruited him a LONG time ago.
- Bottom Line: This offense has struggled mightily this year although this early in the season it’s still really hard to get a feel for how much of that is them being horrible and how much could just be that they haven’t gelled yet. They don’t seem to really have the pieces you look for though as QB is a real question mark. With their injury issues at RB, I don’t really see them being able to just run it down our throats but our issues at MLB certainly seem to indicate they’d go at us there. While Geathers and Jenkins certainly have the heft up front, one of their big uglies releasing to the 2nd level to take on the smaller Gilliard/ Williams MLB duo we’ll be sporting doesn’t work that well for us. In obvious passing situations, I don’t know that we need a ton of pressure as they’ve shown all year that they can play pretty poorly in the passing game without much help.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Gilliard and Williams played great last week manning the two MLB spots. Now let’s see how they do against an offense with a pulse. A slight one for sure, but a pulse nonetheless. I don’t expect to see us coming after the QB a ton as we’ll likely make them show us they can execute all the way down the field, something they’ve struggled with. Containment and sure tackling will be big keys defensively.
Ole Miss Defense
- The Ole Miss D has struggled against the run this season but has been better against the pass. They lost a ton off of last year’s group so it was to be expected I suppose. With Tyrone Nix as DC, this is the same base 4-2-5 defense that he ran at SC back a few years ago.
- The OM DL lost the heart of their D with the departure of the massive Jerrell Powe and the underrated Ted Laurent. Without those 2 they’ve struggled to slow the running games they’ve faced. Vandy rushed for over 280 against them. On the edge, a pair of seniors stands guard in Wayne Dorsey and Kentrell Lockett. Lockett has struggled with injuries and is coming off a torn ACL last year but if healthy, he’s a beast. Not Clowney level, but solid.
- At LB, Mike Marry has played great inside, leading the team in tackles. At 6-2, 250 the guy certainly has the build to play the position. He’s 3rd in the SEC in tackles, which means their defense is on the field a fair amount. Like most programs these days with the further advent of the spread, Ole Miss plays the nickel formation as much as they do a base 4-3, so Marry is typically flanked by the somewhat undersized Joel Kight (5-9, 225). Again, with Nix’ 4-2-5, they have a hybrid safety/LB spot that will play in the box a lot but he’s really more of a DB.
- The Rebel secondary returns half of its starters from last season. CB Marcus Temple’s 15 career starts pace the unit. After SS Damien Jackson’s 11 starts, no other Rebel DB has more than 3 career starts. They aren’t a particularly big group but they’ve played pretty well to open the season. 28th in pass defense and 26th in pass efficiency defense are pretty solid stats although BYU is the best passing team they’ve played this year by a long shot and they aren’t their typical air raid offense this year.
- Bottom Line: It’s got to be tempting to just line it up and run at these guys as it’s safer and the sooner we get Crowell used to 25 carries a game, the quicker our offense becomes that much more dynamic and the more experienced Crowell gets at pass protection. The problem with that line of thinking is that Crowell’s got some sore ribs and I don’t know that we want to wear him down that much more. Ideally we establish the run, then go to play action once the safeties step up. Seems simple and that’s our typical approach, but I could actually see it working this week. No huddle could cause some issues since Ole Miss isn’t the deepest team.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Discounting the CC game, I’m anxious to see our WRs get separation against CBs. Until we show that we can do that, we’re going to see a lot of 8-man fronts to try and run against. I’ve been impressed with Bennett’s ability find holes and he seems to be on the same page as Murray with the hands you want too. Mitchell is a blazer and doesn’t seem to mind contact, I’d love to see some skinny posts with him. Probably about time to get Orson back fired up too.
The Ole Miss Game Overall
You could really see this game going one of two ways. One, Ole Miss comes out ticked off about the Vandy debacle and fights like a cornered black bear, rallying around their coach. Two, they just lay down. Knowing the fact Lady Luck hasn’t smiled on us in a while, I’m betting we see closer to option 1. I fully expect Ole Miss to play better than they have all year. The bottom line is we’re still just a 1-2 team. Sure, we’re dangerous on offense and have a defense that shows potential, but on the flip side, we’re still a team that has occasionally looked really lost on offense and defensively we’re ranked 74th in the nation in scoring D. I just don’t know that I can say with any certainty that we win going away and frankly, based on my memory of recent trips to Oxford, I don’t recall anything at all that points to us winning even remotely convincingly. Remember the Joe Cox debacle start in Oxford back in 2006?
Ole Miss could just as easily show up, decide they want to scrap what they’ve been doing on offense and discover that their pas protection is good enough to try and throw the ball on us since we’ve struggled to generate sacks. If they manage to develop a passing game and control the ball, their defense probably starts to feed off of them and all of a sudden, we’ve got an angry, motivated team on our hands.
I’d like to see us come out, score early, make a stop on defense and grab this game by the throat quickly. This game is an 11:20 local start, against a team that was getting beat by Vandy 30-0 late in the 4th quarter. Their fans are ready to turn on their coach. The crowd will likely be late arriving. If we go up early, we could completely neutralize their home field advantage, something that is key, as this is our first road game of the year. Remember how much trouble we had on offense with the “noise” in the Dome in the opener? That was from 10,000 BSU fans. We keep Ole Miss in this one and by halftime we’ve got 60,000 Ole Miss Rebels, who’ve been waiting for a while to cheer about something, believing they can win. We don’t want that. Ole Miss might literally be the only fanbase in the conference that’s more frustrated with their team than us. The last thing we want to give them is hope. Sorry Rebs, it’s the truth. We need this more than you do…I think. You know you want your coach gone, we’re still trying to work that out.
- Carlton Thomas looked good last week. Maybe it was playing against guys more his size/speed but he showed more burst than he has in years past. He got to the corner a few times. Maybe it was that we weren’t running him solely between the tackles on draws.
- Ray Drew got some PT last week and was productive. He missed some key time with that scooter injury. I know the coaches talk about how well Cornelius Washington is playing but I’d still like to see what the Pastor of Disaster is capable of coming off the edge. He’s certainly already got the build for it.
- Kudos to Scott Lakatos at DB coach. We’ve suffered a few injuries and a few position swaps already and he’s just rolling on along, swapping Commings over to safety, getting Swann and Marshall ready as true frosh and a unit I was really concerned about from a depth perspective, all of a sudden is capable of legitimately allowing Boykin more snaps on offense. Our CB depth chart is looking bright for the future.
- Speaking of Boykin, that guy is just electric. Such a great balance of speed, quicks and strength. He’s perfect for returns but he’s also ideal in a Percy Harvin type role although we really don’t seem to use him in the deep passing game.
- I’m so excited to hear that Gates isn’t a lock to start due to the play of Dallas Lee at the LG spot. That’s tremendous from a depth perspective. Hopefully we can get Kolton Houston off whatever mystery NCAA issue he has and see what he’s capable of since these guys will all be playing a lot next year. The fact he’s got NCAA issues significantly increases the chances he’s going to be really good. When’s the last time anyone that wasn’t worth a crap had NCAA issues? Austin Long is quickly approaching Mudcat urban legend status.
- OK, I have no idea what’s going on in the SEC expansion. Yes, TAMU is coming in and apparently they are now a top 10 team. Perhaps preliminary SEC bias? Somehow ACC fans will claim it. Apparently we declined WVU, which I’m cool with as UT remains “the hillbilly team” of the SEC. I won’t UT looking down on no one. If Missouri comes in, I’m going to need someone to really spend some time explaining how the conference/division/rivalry games are going to play out. I’m at around about 50 different scenarios and it’s making my head hurt. If they don’t come in, we’re obviously not going with 13.
- So through 2 weeks of the fantasy football season I’m in 1st place in 2 leagues and 1-1 in my other league. Special thanks to AJ Green, who the experts still have ranked behind Julio Jones in projected points this week for the 3rd straight week. Based on past history, when AJ’s going into the HOF, they’ll go ahead and list Julio ahead of him on the ballot just because.
- So I’m getting my new TV delivered either today or tomorrow and as if I couldn’t get more excited about college football I add that? Saturday could be a special day. Of course another UGA egg and there might be a bottle-sized hole in that new Samsung.
- So Auburn finally lost. Did anyone notice that their defense is giving up well over 500 ypg? Congrats to Clemson on the win but something tells me they might look back on this and wonder why they stormed the field for this one. Kinda like when Colorado did it to us last year.
- OK, the Braves are going through an epic collapse right now and could very well miss the playoffs. At this rate, they could very well finish 3rd in the wildcard. If this swoon had happened a month ago I’d be reeling. As it stands, with football back on, it sadly rates at about a 3 on my interest level. Now, if the tables were turned and they were charging, I’d be fired up. As it is, I can feign disinterest. I think UGA’s struggled have embittered me to the whole sports world.
- Alas R.E.M. is broken up. I’d be lying if I said I still went out and bought every album of theirs like I did back in the day but that group was the soundtrack to my HS years and their music holds up remarkably well. Murmur is still one of my favorite albums and songs like 7 Chinese Brothers, Pretty Persuasion and pretty much anything on Eponymous still take me back. Thanks for the memories guys.
Have a safe weekend,