OleHottyToddy Preview: Memphis at #10 Ole Miss


Welcome back to Oxford, Memphis fan. Yes you, the one guy. I look at Memphis as the Northern equivalent of Southern Miss, as Hugh Freeze stated on the Reb Talk call in show this week, he considers Memphis a part of Mississippi for recruiting purposes.

The game is slated for 6.30pm central at Vaught Hemingway stadium, Oxford, MS and will be televised on FSN.

For recruiting, this series is important for #10 ranked Ole Miss. The Memphis metro area has over a million people and is only an hour away from the Oxford, MS campus. The largest populated city in Mississippi is on 250,000 and Jackson is over two hours away.

Jackson and South Mississippi will always be important but you have to understand why playing Southern Miss is just not as important as Memphis.

Back to the game, Memphis head coach Justin Fuente arrived the same time as Hugh Freeze. He was a QB at Oklahoma and a 1999 grad from Murray State. He worked his way up by coaching QB’s at Illinois State, a RB coach and Co-OC at TCU before attracting the eye of Memphis.

The Tigers only won 5 games in the three years prior to Fuente and he has since won 9 prior to the game in Oxford Saturday. This season he has beaten Austin Peay 63-0 and Middle Tennessee 36-17 but the best game this year was a narrow loss to #11 UCLA 35-42.

Fuente and the UCLA game has gotten Freeze’s attention. On this week’s conference call, Freeze stated, “I’m extremely impressed with the job that Justin (Fuente) has done (at Memphis) in a short amount of time. He’s upgraded the talent level significantly from the last time I had an experience with them when I was at Arkansas State.”

Looking at Memphis from a distance, you can see this is a team that is young in the secondary but experienced in the front seven of the defense. Offensively, they have made big strides and are currently leading their conference in scoring (44.7 pts/game) and rushing (242 yds/game).

The Tigers are led by Deltona Florida native, 6’7” sophomore quarterback Paxton Lynch. He is completing 66% of his passes, averaging 255 yd/game and fiver touchdowns through the air with 22 yards/game rushing with 3 touchdowns.

In the toughest game, he had his best output with 305 yards passing against UCLA.

In the backfield they have sophomore Doroland Dorceus (5’10” -205 lb) who is averaging 73 yards per game and senior Brandon Hayes (5’8” – 192 lb) who averages 64 yards per game.

As a team they average 243 yards per game on the ground.

Top receivers include:

WR Keiwone Malone – 15/201yds, 13.4 yds/catch

TE Alan Cross – 8/127 yds, 15.88 yds/catch – 3 tds

WR Mose Frazier – 11/109 yds, 9.9 yds/catch – 1 td

WR Tevin Jones – 8/ 106 yds, 13.25 yds/catch

On the defense six of the front seven return from 2013 including all three starting linebackers. One of my favorite named players “Tank” Jakes, leads the team with 25 total tackles, including 9 tackles for loss and 4 sacks (all team leading stats).

So basically don’t run at Tank.

The biggest losses for the Tigers come at the safety position which was not very good in 2013 (giving up 254 yds/game). I expect this will be problematic for Memphis to slow down the hot passing streak of Ole Miss.

This is a AAC team that has a good balanced offensive attack and will probably get some yards and points. I’m not expecting a shut out but I do hope to see a solid rush defense by Ole Miss as Alabama’s shadow begins to loom over the horizon.

The Ole Miss secondary is going to do what they do every game by making quarterback’s pay if they put the ball in the air, but the question is can Ole Miss slow a team down for an extended time? This will be a good test for the Rebel d-line.

I personally wish Ole Miss would try to physically run the ball but honestly you can’t expect that. This team and this offense is not built on the run game and that’s fine.

On Reb Talk with David Kellem Freeze responded to the question on the run game production, “When our first team is in there we do some

good things, had around 200 yards in the last game (ULL). How many yards would we have had if we left them in the whole game? I don’t know. So I can’t say I know exactly where we are in the run game, but I don’t care how we get yards and score.”

Ole Miss fans have to realize running the ball is not always the best course of action and one of the things I appreciate about Hugh Freeze and his philosophy is that he will adjust his game plan to the defense he is facing.

Rather than trying to run against a physical front 7, why not use the short passing game to avert the pass rush and spread those linebackers out.

This will be a fun game and if the Rebels aren’t day dreaming about October 4th, they won’t be very hospitable to Memphis in Oxford.