Every game this year is the most epic show down of the year but no, really. This weekend is the most epic showdown of the year. The first game in Oxford between two top five teams in history. It’s a virtual playoff game for the future first-ever playoffs later this year. For Ole Miss this is a chance to win the SEC for the first time in 50 years. The LSU loss stung and was disappointing but regardless, Ole Miss had to beat Auburn anyway. So, lets take a look at what Ole Miss needs to do to win this game and get back in the driver seat of the SEC West.
1. Get back to playing Ole Miss’ offense.
Last week our first key was to stick with the Ole Miss offense. That is an offense that uses short passes to overcome the pass rush. A offense that keeps the defense guessing and on their heels, an offense that opens up the running game with the pass, and use speedy backs in space.
It actually looked like they accidentally were given the LSU offensive game plan, last week. They tried to out-LSU, LSU. And it didn’t work out so well. Coach Hugh Freeze and his QB Bo Wallace resigned themselves to lining up in a power set and running it right at the stacked up front 7 of LSU on first and second down and on 3rd down they were forced to throw deep out routes on obvious passing situations.
They were not unpredictable, they were not dictating tempo or in control of that game at any point.
This week, the team needs to get back to what they do best and that is to play Ole Miss football.
2. Put your track shoes on, Landsharks.
After taking some blows last week against LSU, this defense has shown they don’t break. They gave up over 200 yards on the ground for the first time but only gave up 1 touchdown and a field goal. That is a win most weeks.
Auburn is an even better running team but they are much more of a finesse team compared to the big boys in Baton Rouge. Auburn will also pass the ball more efficiently, so Ole Miss defense won’t be able to load up on any one part of the Auburn Tigers.
JUCO transfer WR D’haquille Williams has been QB Nick Williams’ favorite target so far this year and he will certainly be able to come in and stretch the field. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne and Nick Williams will be shifty and elusive running the ball, they will avoid contact and slip away from tackles.
It will require OM’s D to play as disciplined as they possibly can and tackle well. Something we know they can do. This Auburn offense, while quick and dynamic, is more well suited to Ole Miss’ defense than a power run team like LSU. Ole Miss uses a lot of smaller defensive backs to supplement run support and that should give Auburn fits.
Stop the run and lets pick off some desperate passes from Marshall.
3. This is a gut check game.
Ole Miss is missing Denzel Nkemdiche who broke his ankle, LT Laremy Tunsil has a strained bicep, DT Robert Nkemdiche has a shoulder, Prewitt has a rib. How does this team respond to a devastating loss with some of your leaders are injured and not 100%? The team must somehow start the season over mentally and forget the loss and play their best football against Auburn.
For the rest of the season, the mental toughness (intestinal fortitude) is the most important characteristic, the Rebels need to show. If they want to win the SEC and get to the playoffs, it is all clearly in sight, but you have to fight for it. It won’t be given to anyone.