Here's some more interviewage for ya, this time courtesy of Ghost of Chucky. My answers to his questions should be up later today.
1. There's a lot of talk about the Rebels being over-ranked at fourth in the country. Do you think they're overrated, or do you think they're capable of finishing the year in the top five? If you think they're overrated, what do you think more reasonable expectations might be?
As of today, yes. The Rebels are certainly "overrated." However, this is definitely a Top 15 team. It's a shame that Ole Miss' two opponents have been Memphis and SE Louisiana and, from what we've been told, the play calling was very vanilla for each of those two games.
Offensively, Jevan Snead has struggled to get his rhythm down. Furthermore, the passing game has relied heavily on out routes as opposed to looking down field in the first two games of the season. I would expect that to change starting Thursday.
There's no reason why the Rebels can't compete with Alabama for the West Division title. But if they want to, they're going to have to learn under fire in Columbia and Nashville over the next two weeks.
2. Ole Miss's defense has played well so far. Is that because it's better than advertised or because the competition has been soft? How will they handle an improved Carolina offense?
It's a combination of both. The defense, in my mind, is as good as advertised. It all starts with the defensive line. Believe it or not, Jerrell Powe is currently the anchor on that line. Guys like Kentrell Lockett and Marcus Tillman also big factors up front. Plus, it helps that Greg Hardy is going to be back in the line-up on Thursday after taking a week off due to injury.
The linebackers and defensive backs have been solid, so far, but they haven't been tested by a big-time quarterback, yet. Johnny Brown, Kendrick Lewis, and Fon Ingram lead the team in tackles through two games.
If the defensive front is able to put pressure on Stephen Garcia then the game, and pace, will play into Ole Miss' hands all night.
3. Name and describe one player that most Gamecocks fans haven't heard about yet that will have an impact on this game.
You may have heard of him, but WR Pat Patterson is going to be the next stud receiver in the SEC. The kid's a freshman and didn't get a chance to do a whole lot until last week where he racked up 4 catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. In the game against SE Louisiana it became clear that Snead's main targets in the passing game were Shay Hodge and Patterson. If Patterson can continue to contribute along with a guy like Dexter McCluster, it just makes the Rebel offense that much more dangerous.
4. Prediction. Who will win and what will the score be?
I'm going to go with Ole Miss in a close match-up. Given how inconsistent the offense has been for Ole Miss, I'm not very confident with my pick. It doesn't help that South Carolina has a defense that features a guy like Eric Norwood whom the young Ole Miss offensive line will have to target on every single play from scrimmage.