Gameday Preview: Ole Miss

Gameday Preview: Ole Miss

Rebecca May, BA ’91, Life Member, is a Texas ex-pat living in Oregon while rooting for the Longhorns. An attorney by day, she blogs about college football by night as a regular contributor to gridirongirl.

It’s a good thing I watched last week’s toilet game from the safety of my fainting couch. Oh, the elation of the first game. Oh, the humanity of the second. So much fail. So much yelling.

So what’s in store for this week? Let’s face it—we are all still stunned by what happened last weekend. Can people find their seats? Remember the yells? The fight song? I sure hope so.

One thing is for sure: Ole Miss and Foghorn Leghorn are coming to town looking for revenge—sweet, sweet revenge, served up to a home crowd in Austin. Last year Texas roared into Oxford and blew off the Rebels’ straw hats with a convincing 66-31 win. They all looked at each other and said, “Well, I declare!” while fanning themselves, then circled a date on the calendar in red pen (the color of blood): Sept. 14, 2013. In the meantime, Mr. Freeze (part-time Batman villain and full-time coach) was busy rounding up the No. 1 receiver and No. 11 recruiting class in the nation. Think I’m being absurd about Coach Freeze? The dude has a War Room with an octagonal table! You can read about it here.

Let’s talk about that recruiting thing for a hot minute.

Back in January, Laquon Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 receiver, posted a photo of himself caressing a stack of $100 bills just prior to National Signing Day. Aside from snagging that guy, Ole Miss also added the No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche to their roster. I heard if you say his name three times in a dark room while looking in the mirror, Archie Manning jumps out and slaps you.

There’s a lot of nasty talk around the country about how Ole Miss managed to snag a recruiting class bursting at the seams with talent. I’ll leave the speculation up to you. You might think it was a violation of the NCAA rules. You might think he froze everyone’s brains with a special gun. But according to Coach Freeze, all he had to do was win the Egg Bowl last year.

So what can we expect on Saturday? I was hoping you could tell me.

Let’s go back to week one. Ole Miss faced the Vanderbilt Commodores. Ole Miss pulled out to a quick 10-point lead, but Vanderbilt racked up 21 unanswered points before the half. Ole Miss squeaked out a 39-35 win.

Week two, Ole Miss faced the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (SEMO to their friends). The Rebels scored 31 quick points, and then nothing in the second half. They still won 31-13, but they were shut out in the second half.

Texas and Ole Miss come into the game on Saturday in very different places mentally. It would be easy for Texas to feel defeated and demoralized. A shredding loss, coaching upheaval, injuries … a recipe for disaster. Ole Miss is swanning into town in the top 25, with a 2-0 record, looking to embarrass Texas at home. And at this point, Texas is the 4.5-point underdog, and with good reason.

But are the ‘Horns out? Is Daje Johnson’s injury a game changer? Who shot J.R.?

In many ways, the Ole Miss team is untested. They bring their diamond-encrusted freshman recruiting class, whose members play like pros, but they’re still freshmen. Freshmen can be prone to thinking errors in big games. Make no mistake—this is a big game.

Texas has averaged 245.5 rushing yards so far. Ole Miss has allowed only an average of 109.5 yards. This is a collision worth watching. On defense, will Robinson make a difference? Maybe more important than creating an effective defensive scheme, Robinson must find a way to lift their flagging spirits.

Look for Ole Miss to use its many weapons on offense this weekend: I’Tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton, Mark Dodson, Kailo Moore, and Jeff Scott. Bo Wallace is slated to be the starting QB. Last season, he was pick-off prone. This year so far: zero picks thrown. Let’s change that! At Oxford, Wallace was manhandled pretty thoroughly by the Texas D-line. If the ‘Horns let Wallace settle in to his tempo offense early, it could spell real trouble. Disrupt early and often. Ole Miss has potentially a more dynamic offense than BYU.

Freeze didn’t mix it up too much on offense in the first two outings. His play-calling was even described as “vanilla” by some. This week, expect him to open up the playbook and try a little sumpin’ sumpin’ against the ‘Horns—when he’s not planning world domination, of course.

Ole Miss also tended to drift off in the second half. Let’s hope that tradition continues this week.

Is there good news? Of course! It really can’t get worse for the defense. Texas now ranks 121st out of 123 teams for rushing defense.

The game is on Longhorn Network again, so it will be going in my earholes only. I will probably listen from the safety of my pillow fort, whiskey-soaked T-shirt at the ready. Let’s hold hands and hope for the best.

Photo courtesy UT Athletics.


Tags: , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment