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Keys to the Game: Ole Miss Rebels vs. Memphis Tigers

Photo by Josh Bonner, Libertine Images
Photo by Josh Bonner, Libertine Images

Today, the Rebels don’t have to travel too far from home as they head down I-55 to take on the undefeated Memphis Tigers in the Liberty.

Just before High Noon the Rebels will have a showdown that could make all the difference this far in the season. For either fan base this game will be memorable as the two teams fight to come out of the trenches victorious not just today but beyond. Expect to see a show of sheer human will, the physical and mental desire to overcome the odds.

For the Rebels this possible victory gives them a chance to climb up in the SEC and nationally. They’ll have the chance to end the streak for the undefeated Tigers.

Ross Perot once said, “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown.”

For the Rebels, it hasn’t been an easy couple weeks despite having just one loss. Now I don’t think they have given up yet, but they seem to have had difficulty finding their momentum the way they need to play every game.

This weekend will not be any different. The Rebels can no longer afford to wallow in hopes they will get better in the second half. Coach Freeze and his guys have the ability more than ever to do something magical this season. It’s there, folks, it really is.

What we fans have waited for and long for is at their fingertips if they can just tighten the little movements and adjust to make explosive plays happen for four full quarters of ball.

Just to sidetrack for a second, we can be happy for the announcement that Tunsil is finally free and returning for Texas A&M. But that’s still a week away so Rebels still have to play like they don’t have him back for just one more game.

What’s it going to take this week to stop Memphis streak today? Here are this week’s Keys to the Game:

Stay Healthy and Strong: It’s unavoidable that there will be injuries no matter what way at team is going. Sometimes Rebels play with more or less, but they still affect how we perform each weekend. This is nothing new to the Rebels. Facing injuries of some crucial players earlier on has not been the best scenario for the Rebels on both sides of the ball. However, this week it looks like they may be regaining some crucial players back.. Looks like the Rebels will have right guard Justin Bell, tight end Evan Engram , defensive tackle D.J. Jones, wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow and running back Jaylen Walton and center Center Robert Conyers.

It will still be a rough transitions for the players who may not be 100 percent healthy but the Rebels are going to have to risk to get some of their crucial depth back especially on offense. With that being said, the Rebels are going to have to play smart and strong. They need to protect their assets on the field so they won’t be forced out on the sidelines or out for the rest of conference play after Memphis. Coach Freeze and his staff need to do some adjustments at play calling to rotate players in and out so they don’t get injured or worn out early on if they’re going to come out of this one with a much needed win and perhaps a shot at the College Playoffs.

Our Defense needs to Stop Their Offense Quick: We hope that Rebels don’t not have another scenario where their glorious defense decides not to show up. We don’t need an imposter to come to Memphis.

Chad Kelly has swagger to make things happen with the offense, but folks just in case you didn’t know, Memphis may have the future first-round NFL Draft Pick in Paxton Lynch. This 6’7″, 245 pound quarterback is a beast and he isn’t playful. Rebels’ defense will have to work fast and hard to stop to this kid. If he gets going the Rebels will be in trouble to say the least. They may not be able to recover if Lynch and his crew get to work on that scoreboard too much before the 1st half ends. The defense can quiet the Tigers down if it shows up all full quarters.

Come to Play: The Rebels can’t afford to play a comeback game even if its non-conference if they hope to be back in the running in the SEC or nationally. The last few weeks they haven’t been awake but for Homecoming the Rebels looked like the team we all need them to be from here and on out if we are not going to feel that solemn feeling we know too well in Oxford.

If the Rebels were ever close to having what they have longed for, what the Rebel nation has longed for, then they can’t give in or give up to anybody.

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”– Herb Brooks.

This is your time Rebels this season is where it was meant to happen. Hotty Toddy!

Lee Ann Herring-jpgs-0601

Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a HottyToddy.com contributor, veteran SEC sports journalist and Brown University graduate. She loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at misskentuckyus2011@gmail.com.

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