OXFORD • Ole Miss survived disguised blitzes and other pressure packages when it faced Arkansas in Little Rock last season.
This season an inexperienced offensive line will have to make the right calls if the Rebels are to snap a six-game losing streak that extends to last October’s 37-33 win against the Razorbacks in Little Rock.
It’s a 6:30 kickoff tonight at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Razorbacks have had their own struggles, and these two teams are just a combined 2-10 since meeting last season, not a Power Five win in the bunch.
However, Arkansas can say it’s 1-0, finally securing a 20-13 win over Portland State – a four-win FCS team in 2018 – with an interception in the final seconds.
Ole Miss (0-1) struggled with shifting fronts and pressure from Memphis in a 15-10 loss at the Liberty Bowl.
“They blitzed us. They gave us some tough things, I’ll give them that, and we didn’t do well enough picking it up,” Ole Miss offensive line coach Jack Bicknell said.
Arkansas defensive coordinator John Chavis is in his second season in Fayetteville and was known for blitz packages in SEC stops at Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M.
Arkansas defensive backs were heavily involved in the blitz plan last week as the Razorbacks had six sacks, eight tackles for loss and helped the secondary grab three interceptions.
Portland State had 75 yards rushing and 155 yards passing.
Sometimes the pressure came from defensive backs even when it wasn’t a called play.
Strong safety Kamren Curl had two sacks.
On one of them, “It wasn’t a called blitz. It was really like instinct,” Curl said. “My assignment blocked, and the quarterback rolled, so I went and attacked. It was really just a play I made.”
Bicknell hopes his troops will make some plays to counteract Curl’s instincts.
Freshman offensive tackle Nick Broeker is expected to see his first line-of-scrimmage action for the Rebels sometime in the first half, though he’s not expected to start.
Ole Miss had more success after halftime when two-tight end sets and some power running plays helped it keep the ball longer. The Rebels had 80 rushing yards for the game after having minus-1 at halftime. Redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Corral was 5 for 13 passing in the first half, 4 for 6 in the second.
“Schematically, we can put them in some better spots and have a chance to be successful with some things to get the ball out quicker for (Corral),” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said. “We can make a big jump there.”