OXFORD • With No. 1 LSU in town Saturday night, Ole Miss coach Matt Luke hopes the Rebels can excel in one-fifth of the playing field to make it a four-quarter game.
Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow is the most accurate quarterback in the nation, his 78.9 completion percentage well ahead of his nearest competitor, Utah’s Tyler Huntley at 73.8 percent.
“That’s pretty amazing,” Luke said.
Burrow is No. 2 in passing touchdowns (33) and passing yards (3,198) and No. 3 in passing efficiency with a 204.9 rating.
In an effort to counter those gaudy numbers, Luke wants to see his defensive players make plays from the 20-yard line in – the red zone.
“I don’t think you totally shut these guys down, but you try to find ways to slow them down and make this a four-quarter game,” Luke said.
Burrow lost a fumble in the third quarter but was otherwise near perfect at Alabama last week completing 31 of 39 attempts for 393 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 46-41 win.
He’s a threat to run, too. His gross rushing yards were 96 before lost yardage from five sacks was subtracted.
Ole Miss has improved against the run and has shown some improvement against the pass in recent weeks.
The red zone has been problematic, though. The Rebels have given up 26 scores in 30 opponent trips with 16 touchdowns, eight both rushing and passing.
“We’ve gotten a little better down there, and that’s a key component,” defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre said. “It’s really to the defense’s advantage because of the (lack of) verticality. You can play a little bit tighter coverage. You can drop people more and still hit the same run fits. Burrow is really good at throwing into tight windows.”