Keys To Victory
Run The Football
The lone established starter for Ole Miss – and he’s a good one – is running back Scottie Phillips.
The Rebels need to make good decisions and be efficient in their new run-based spread. They believe they have good depth behind Phillips, though much of it is unproven.
A sustained running game would take a lot of pressure off a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first start.
OLBs Rise Up
The outside linebackers are the key to the 3-4 defense, coordinator Mike MacIntyre says, adding that former end Qaadir Sheppard is now in a more natural position.
Sheppard, playing with a heavily wrapped left hand, and juco transfer Sam Williams need to disrupt Memphis quarterback Brady White. They may not get to White with a lot of sacks, but getting him off his mark can pay off big.
Trust Your Coaching
Two high-profile coordinators are in place. The Rebels need to make sure they don’t “free lance” or revert to old habits that might keep them from early success and gaining confidence in the new schemes.
What To Watch
When Memphis has the ball
The Tigers will likely challenge the Ole Miss secondary with wide receiver Damonte Coxie and tight end Joey Magnifico, both productive playmakers last year.
If that serves to loosen the middle, look for Memphis to run inside with 223-pound Patrick Taylor to see if the Rebels have improved in stopping the run.
When Ole Miss has the ball
Look for the Rebels to use a lot of motion and misdirection to try and lure a defender out of position and gain an edge in the run game.
There will no doubt be much more emphasis on the run, but Rich Rodriguez stresses this is a “take what the defense gives” approach to offense.
Look for much of the passing game to come with quarterback Matt Corral rolling right.
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre vs. Memphis coach Mike Norvell
The deck is stacked against MacIntyre as he debuts a new scheme with players who have had little collective success.
If the Rebels have truly built confidence and depth perhaps MacIntyre can force the Tigers’ experienced skill players into a bad game.
Offensively, Ole Miss should be able to move the ball against a Memphis defense that, though experienced, was pretty average last season while playing in a Group of Five conference.
The game could turn on how the Rebels disrupt White.