Ole Miss hits the road to College Station Texas this weekend as one of the hottest teams in America, jumping from #18 to #3 in the national polls over five games. Saturday’s matchup is slated for the night game on ESPN in primetime.
The Rebels knocked off #1 Alabama last week, but the schedule does not get any easier as they face off against a team that is the polar opposite of Alabama, the pass happy Texas A&M Aggies.
A&M has not missed a beat without Johnny Manziel and has quickly replaced him with Sophomore Kenny Hill. Through six games last year, Manziel had 2,273 yards, 14 TD’s and 5 INT’s. Through six games this year, Hill has 2,281 yds, 21 TD’s and 5 INT’s.
Pretty similar, wouldn’t you say? Maybe Hill is even a bit better?
It may be too early to make judgement on Kenny Hill, but for Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, every team he has led has finished in the top 12 nationally in total offense. Maybe we should be making affectionate nicknames for Coach Sumlin instead of his quarterbacks.
A&M’s success offensively is due to Sumlin’s scheme and planning rather than the player running the plays. Hill’s production and success as a quarterback in this system will get better every game.
The receivers are deep and athletic and consistently help put 400 yards on every team they face.
6′-4″ wideout Josh Reynolds has over 400 yards in 6 games with 7 touchdowns. Senior Malcome Kennedy has 378 yards coming into Saturdays matchup and another 6′-4″ sophomore Edward Pope has contributed 369 total receiving yards with 4 touchdowns.
Then there is Ricky Seals-Jones, Speedy Noil, Niederhofer, Holmes and on and on. In fact 17 players have caught a pass, this year, from Kenny Hill.
Rushing production is almost identical to 2013. Trey Williams has the starting job to himself in absence of Ben Malena. There is a deep group here as well with Tra Carson, Brandon Williams and James White. Sumlin is using a committee approach to get 188 rushing yards per game, more than the 175 per game last year.
So, after being thoroughly scared looking at the offensive stats, why did A&M only score 17 points after 3 1/2 quarters in Starkville last week and escape by the hair of their chin against Arkansas the week before?
Well first of all, MSU and Arkansas do a good job of playing keep away from opposing offenses. Texas A&M does not have a great defense and their rushing defense has been exposed by teams that can run well.
Freshman defensive lineman Myles Garrett has a knack for getting to the QB with 6.5 sacks, defensive back Howard Matthews is in the top 10 of the SEC in tackles with 39 and linebacker Justin Bass has 37. However, as a team A&M is giving up over 400 yards per game and perhaps youth on both sides of the football is having trouble with this seven game stretch to open the season.
The Aggies won’t get their first buy week of the season until October 18, after they play Ole Miss and then Alabama next week. No rest for the weary in the SEC.
Arkansas really tested A&M in a game they really controlled until the very end. MS State dominated the Aggies but Hill and his crew still got 2 late touchdowns.
I noted that the A&M receiving crew dropped as many as 12 passes against MSU. That will not happen at home on Kyle Field. I expect the team to be bolstered by the fans and they will be back executing their best in front of the home crowd.
Ole Miss will once again have to move the chains and play ball control offense without a power run game. Will Ole Miss have to find a 100 yards per game running back to beat A&M. I don’t believe so, but at some point, being so one dimensional will begin to cost the Rebels.
This would be a good time to see the Ole Miss offensive line take another step from their second half performance against Alabama and control the line of scrimmage, take some of the pressure off Wallace and the receivers and power through a few games.
Sumlin will get his yards and points, can Ole Miss keep up? We shall see this Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd in College Station Texas.