Ole Miss Football: Five Things Rebel Nation Wants To See Against SIU

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: De'Quan Bowman #8 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders takes a hard hit from Kevontae' Ruggs #27 of the Mississippi Rebels as he runs back a kick in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 01: De'Quan Bowman #8 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders takes a hard hit from Kevontae' Ruggs #27 of the Mississippi Rebels as he runs back a kick in the first quarter at NRG Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The 2018 Ole Miss football season is now in its second week and when the Rebels face Southern Illinois Saturday there are some things we want to see.

After a big week-one win over Texas Tech, Ole Miss football (1-0) is now coming home to the Vaught to take on FCS opponent Southern Illinois (1-0). Southern Illinois may be a FCS team but they are fundamentally sound, talented and very well coached. While it is easy for us to project a win Saturday the Salukis are not a team to overlook and will come out tough. In other words the Rebels don’t need to take the day off.

Should the Rebels come out and take care of business like last Saturday it is highly likely the Rebels will not just see a win but a blowout. Of course, we want a win and that is the most important thing but we also want to see some other things from the Rebels.  Despite the Rebels getting the big season opening win there were a few issues which raised concern. Naturally, these are things which we all saw in the game and they are issues which Matt Luke noted in his Monday presser.

Of course, the win was great but when you figure in just over a week coach Nick Saban and the Tide roll into Oxford, well there are some things which need to be fixed and to beat Bama they have to be fixed now. No disrespect to SIU but this should be a cruise control game in which the Rebels can work on the obvious issues and polish their game on both sides of the ball. These are things which were raised by Rebel Nation which we would like to see. Thanks to Rebel Nation on Facebook here we go.

The Five Main Things

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If we all watched the same Ole Miss game this Saturday then we all know what needs to be addressed in this weeks game against SIU. Among Rebel Nation there are a lot of very smart and very hungry Ole Miss fans. These are the biggest obvious issues which fans picked up on against Texas Tech and we’d like to see take care of this Saturday.

No.1 Red Zone Offense

The glaring stat for the Ole Miss offense this past Saturday is 0/4 in red zone TDs. Yes, the Rebels did get FGs on each trip and sophomore Luke Logan should be applauded for picking up the slack but the Rebels have to put the ball in the endzone every chance they get. You can get by on FGs against weaker teams but this season the Rebels have to score points, a lot of points. We can be sure coach Phil Longo will have this taken care asap.

No.2 Defense!

This was echoed so loudly by Rebel Nation you could almost hear it thru the screen. The defense has been lacking over the past couple of seasons for Ole Miss football. Naturally, we all want to see the return of the Landshark Defense. This past Saturday we watched the defense play hard and fast which is good. The defense also made some huge plays when it mattered most. The attitude of the defense looked good and they were fired up.

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This week we want to see the defense focus on being more consistent on 3rd down and get off the field. The Red Raiders converted 8 out of 19 times on 3rd down or 42.7%. The bright spot for the Rebels defense is they have obviously improved on stopping the run and we want to see more of that especially this week. SIU put up 300 yards rushing in their season opening win and with Bama looming we have to be able to stop the run.

No.3 More Rushing

One thing we learned Saturday is the Rebels have a great RB in JUCO transfer Scottie Phillips and it was great to see the improvement in the Rebels run game. While all of us would love to see Phillips come out and do it again this week we also know we have to get some level of production from the other backs on the depth chart. Again with Bama looming next week I’d really like to see Phillips have a good first half Saturday and be done.

Phillips got the bulk of the touches against Tech as well he should have but this week Rebel Nation would really like to see some other Rebels get more touches. Young backs like true freshmen Isaiah Woullard and Tylan Knight would benefit greatly from getting some good runs under their belt. As one Rebel Nation group member stated, “our offense is big and strong. Use it!” There really isn’t a better setup for the younger backs to get good runs than this weekend. It will pay off later in the season, maybe next week.

No.4 Secondary Depth

This a huge area of focus in the coming weeks especially with junior corner-back Jaylon Jones going down for the season. While we know the Rebels secondary is a deep group the experience level becomes an issue further down the depth chart. There were a couple of DBs who were out some  during fall camp with minor injuries which while limiting them did allow some younger DBs to get quality snaps with the No.1s.

The Rebels starting secondary group is very experienced despite the loss of Jaylon Jones. In fact the entire two-deep is still very solid. This Saturday we will see Myles Hartsfield and Ken Webster on the corners with Zedrick Woods and CJ Moore at the safeties. Javien Hamilton and true freshman Keidron Smith will be the corner support and CJ Miller and Kam White at safety support. Montrell Custiss will be at STAR with Vernon Dasher there backing him up. This Saturday is a great time to get the secondary depth as much real-time experience as possible.

No.5 Younger Players

Coach Matt Luke saw a bevy of new young talent from the 2018 Ole Miss recruiting class ready to play Rebels football. There have already been a few defensive Rebels from the class we’ve seen in action and the feedback from their play has been very positive. Of course, there are a number of younger players we either want to see or see more of this Saturday against SIU. Most of these are on the offensive side of the ball.

The Rebels should have this game in hand early and with Bama next week the starters will need a break. The second half of Saturdays game will likely see freshman QB Matt Corral at some point and we will also likely see some younger receivers like freshmen Miles Battle and Elijah Moore. We also figure for Isaiah Woullard and Tylan Knight to see some extra touches. The Rebels offense has weapons on the field in its starters but there are also weapons waiting in the wings and we want to see them get as much experience as they can.

Other Things

There is virtually no such thing as mistake free football. There will be moments when things breakdown. Things like blocking schemes on offense and coverages in the secondary have to be tight before the Rebels get SEC play cranked up. Rebel Nation wants to see a polished Rebels team this Saturday free of senseless mistakes and penalties. We also want to see an injury free game so we can be as physically healthy as possible when Bama visits the Vaught next Saturday. The biggest thing we want to see is the Rebels with a very impressive win over the Salukis.

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This should be a good game for the Rebels both statistically and physically and should be a blowout. This will be a great chance to see how well the Rebels have improved from the Texas Tech game and a chance for Rebel Nation to see a few things we are definitely looking for this Saturday. The Ole Miss Rebels will host the Southern Illinois Salukis Saturday in Oxford. Kickoff is set for 3pm CT and the game will be televised via SEC Network. Good luck to coach Matt Luke and the Rebels! BEAT THE SALUKIS! Hotty Toddy!