Ole Miss Football at Texas A&M: Keys To The Game

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The #3 ranked Ole Miss Rebels travel to play the #14 Texas A&M Aggies at newly renovated Kyle Field where it is expected that a new attendance record will be set as 106,000 plus TAMU fans will attempt to put a scare in the ultra-confident Rebels.

This is Ole Miss’ first trip to Kyle Field since A&M joined the SEC thanks to some fortunate scheduling favoring Ole Miss.  TAMU made back to back trips to Oxford the last two years.  Unfortunately for the Reb’s, A&M had Johnny Manziel at quarterback and he was able to led his teams to last minute field goals to win each game in 2012 and 2013.

The Rebels have an 0-6 record all time against the Aggies, with the last game in 1980, pre-SEC play.  The result of that game was also a three point advantage for the Ags.

A&M continues to lead the SEC in total offense (583.2 yds/game) and passing yards (2,371 yds) but is only 9th in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 188.

With all the fast paced offense in College Station it did not result in a win in Starkville last week as the Dogs were able to control the clock and hold Kenny Hill to only 17 points with three minutes left in the game.

An 11am game presents some unique challenges for road teams and the Aggie offense never looked in sync in Starkville.  There were mis-timed plays, double digit drops by receivers and three interceptions thrown by Hill.

You can bet, Ole Miss will see a much more focused and prepared team at 7pm on their home turf.  Lets take a look at some of the keys to a Rebel victory in Texas.

PLAY KEEP-A-WAY

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze continues to show his adaptability by playing a ball control, slower paced offense last week against Alabama and it worked!  With only 63 plays Ole Miss was able to score 23 points and keep the ball away from Alabama just long enough to get the victory.

Even though A&M and Alabama couldn’t be more different teams, the same offensive game plan applies.  Slow down the offense, take time off the clock and allow Bo Wallace to read the defense.

Bo Wallace’s best chance of victory will be to keep Kenny Hill on the sideline.

PROVIDE PRESSURE IN THE NICKEL

As good as Ole Miss’ secondary has been up to this point, nothing has prepared them for Kevin Sumlin’s offense when they are rolling down hill.  Alabama is a force physically and has one of the best wide receivers in the nation, Cooper, but A&M has a fleet of interchangeable 6′-3″ or taller recievers that can overwhelm a defense.

Ole Miss’ defense matches up well against this type of offense on paper, but its one thing to guard one outstanding wide out and quite another to guard three guys like that.  Especially with safety Trae Elston serving a first half suspension and three other secondary players missing time due to eligibility issues or injury.

The defensive secondary will need to run that 4-2-5 DC Dave Wommack is famous for and get his speedy hybrid defensive backs to do their thing.

But you can’t let Kenny Hill set in the pocket and pick you apart.  While OM is covering 4 or 5 receivers downfield the three or four down lineman have to get Hill moving and pressure him and the passing game.  Force Hill off his timing and rhythm and help him make some mistakes.

BEWARE THE 12TH MAN

The crowd at Texas A&M is legendary for their synchronized cheers, the sheer volume and cadence that is so unique and so different it has the potential to really throw players off their game.

It would be easy to focus on the crowd and not anticipate the next play.

Ole Miss on its first trip to CS will have to deal with all the extra seats they added in the off season and will be the first team to face a sellout crowd of over 106,000 people.

Easier said than done but the Rebels have to let the crowd hype them up instead of intimidating them.  Think of it as a home crowd and let the noise sharpen your resolve and focus on the play at hand.  Sumlin has yet to beat a ranked team at Kyle Field.

If A&M plays like they have in recent weeks, Ole Miss might just escape with another win on this fairy tale season.  If Bo Wallace throws a couple of interceptions or the defense blinks at the wrong time, A&M will be right back in the top 10 and Ole Miss will be playing the what-if game.