It has been 11 years since Ole Miss was in play for a SEC title this late in the season and the pressure is just as high now as it was in 2003. You need a lot of breaks to go your way to survive an SEC season and winning in Arkansas on their Senior night with a chance for the Hogs to become bowl eligible should be enough to put all Rebel fans on edge.
Lets take a look at some keys to this pivotal matchup in Fayetteville as Ole Miss looks to continue their magical run in 2014.
Find A Go-To Receiver
Laquon Treadwell only averaged five receptions a game but that was good enough for third most in the SEC at the time he went down late in the Auburn game. He wasn’t the type of receiver to stretch the field or blow the top off the safety coverage, but what he did for Bo Wallace was provide a sure fire safety valve. When nothing else was working, when Ole Miss couldn’t run the ball or even block a bubble screen, Treadwell would catch a ball for you. Just throw it within 10 yards of him and he would beat his man out for the ball.
In so many games over the last couple of years, Treadwell would bring the ball down in a desperate time and most of the time it would be a first down or even a touchdown.
Do we have another guy like that? Probably not, but Evan Engram and Cody Core have been those type of guys before and if they can scheme the right coverage, Bo Wallace can continue with the same game plan. Getting some completions out to the post with Core or even Vince Sanders will help force a double team by the Arkansas defense putting single coverage on Engram or Core or Adeboyejo.
If they can’t find that guy early, there will be a lot of punts by Ole Miss and the Landsharks will be on the field a long time.
The Defensive Line Has To Be Patient
Ole Miss as a defense prides itself on tackles behind the line and they are vital to the success of this defense. Getting big plays is addictive and once someone gets a sack or blows up a run, other players want to get in the action. That is the whole Landshark M.O.; play like sharks with “blood in the water.”
If they get too aggressive against this Arkansas offensive line, they will be chasing Arkansas running backs from behind. This week is all about filling your gap assignment, playing your space and not letting yourself get out of position and give up a big run.
Let them run and pound a brick wall, run down the clock and keep an eye on tight end Hunter Henry.
Henry is a big 6-foot 5-inch tight end that is very mobile and has gotten hot lately receiving passes. He is the main wide receiver at the moment, getting over 100 yards against Mississippi State.
If You Want To Be In The Playoffs, Play Like It
Currently, Ole Miss is the highest rated 2 loss team in the college football playoff poll at #8. Only 4 teams will face off this year in the inaugural playoff format. Ole Miss can play back into the top four. It may take some help from other teams but the only thing they can control is their effort and the outcome of the games they play.
You can’t change the past or get a do-over but you can want this win more than the other team.
So Arkansas is close to a bowl for the first time in a couple of year. You, (Ole Miss) have a chance to win the Western Division. Who should want this game more? Ole Miss has to take control from the very beginning. Similar to the way they punched Texas A&M in the mouth in College Station.
It is always tricky to play on the road, as anyone can win in this league, especially late in the year.
Ole Miss has the better offense and the better defense in this game. If they focus on their execution and cover their responsibilities on the field on defense, they can out last this late-blooming Arkansas team.