Time to take on the Rebels in our SEC home opener. Here are my thoughts on the game.
1. Coaching Matchups
This game features some interesting coaching dynamics. First of all, Houston Nutt and his staff have had plenty of time to scout our team while being able to hold his own hand. We have no significant tape on the Rebels, who have yet to open up their playbook. They have plenty of tape on us. Can they take advantage? On the other hand, Steve Spurrier is intimately acquainted with the defensive philosophy of Rebels DC Tyrone Nix. Can Steve take advantage, as he did last year?
2. Blocking and Stephen Garcia's Mobility
The Rebels, even if Greg Hardy is still banged up, have one of the best defensive fronts in the conference. They will test our line,and if protection breaks down often, they'll test Garcia's elusiveness. I think that they'll be able to get pressure on us fairly often, and I'm fairly confident that Garcia can escape the pressure from time to time and get yards on his feet or by making throws on the run. Garcia proved he could do that against Georgia. I also think, though, that if the line breaks down too much, Garcia will eventually make a mistake. That's not a knock on the quarterback; it's just the law of averages. To avoid that, the line will have to play a tough game and help Garcia out. It's worth noting that if Garcia can find time to throw often enough, we should see big plays develop, as our receivers have a sizable athletic advantage over Ole Miss's secondary.
3. Canning the Rebels' Running Game and Pressuring Jevan Snead
On the flip side of the trenches war, we're taking on a green Ole Miss offensive line that has yet to play against anything comparable to our defensive front. However, our guys, partially due to injury, haven't been getting into the backfield as much as I would like. With Ladi Ajiboye back and Nathan Pepper possible, we should be back close to full strength. If we can step up against the running game and the pass rush, we stand a chance to crash the Rebels backfield early and often. Hopefully, that will lead to a couple of game-changing turnovers.Fun Fact
As far as I can gather, we've only beaten a top-five team once in our history. That was in 1981, when we beat a highly ranked UNC team in Chapel Hill. This game will give us one of the best chances at doing it again that we've had in quite awhile, as we're only negligible underdogs. We'll probably have a couple more chances to break the trend this year, as well, as Alabama and Florida will likely be ranked highly when we play them, too.
I'm admit I'm up in the air about this one. I expect a close game, but I could frankly see either team winning big, too. Both teams appear to have explosive offenses and defenses that have question marks in places but that also have the ability to create big plays. That could all combine to lead to quick swings in score and a possible blowout for one team. However, even if one or both teams have big leads at some point in the game, you have to think that at the end of the day the score will be close. Although my head tells me not to, I'm going to say that we kick a late field goal to take a 30-28 lead, hold the Rebels on the ensuing drive, and score the big upset. Keep in mind that this is more my fantasy as what I really think will happen. However, it's a fantasy that is very possible.