Joe Tessitore, Paul Finebaum, Tim Tebow, and Marcus Spears will all be in The Grove this Saturday to get the morning going before the Rebels take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 2:30 on CBS.
Last season, the Rebels were embarrassed by the Razorbacks and the players have definitely not forgotten about it. There is not a lot of differences in the Arkansas team that Rebels played last season except for a few things.
First of all Bielema and the Hogs have been pounded with injuries, about similar to how the Rebels were last season. Arkansas has lost its starting running back Jonathan Williams, primary target receiver Keon Hatcher and arguably their best receiver in space, Jared Cornelius. They have also not run the ball quite as much with a new offensive coordinator Dan Enos calling the plays. On average, the Rebels are outscoring their opponents by about 20 points as the offense averages 39 points per game. On the other side, Arkansas is averaging about 33 points a game while giving up 27.
Last weekend, Arkansas had 519 total yards posted on them by Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks’ quarterback Jarod Neal went 30/43 for 380 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Looking back to their first game of the season, Ole Miss also played this UT-Martin team and beat them 76-3. Against the Rebel defense, Neal went 13/24 for 139 yards and an interception. His longest pass went for 64 yards so take that out and you are looking at 12/23 for 75 yards.
Chad Kelly is coming off of a game where he went 33/51 for 381 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. After the Rebels look at film of this Arkansas defense, they should come across how UT-Martin was able to move the ball through the air on them. Granted, Arkansas was likely resting their starters, but Ole Miss should still be able to move the ball pretty well.
Three of the four UT-Martin touchdowns came on the ground, two of them for over 20 yards. Ole Miss’ running game has looked a whole lot better with the presence of Laremy Tunsil back at left tackle. The Rebels have gotten their average rushing yards up to 173 yards a game. Jaylen Walton continues to lead the charge in the running game as last weekend he had 20 carries for 78 yards. I think he needs to get about 20 to 25 touches to help the downfield passing game that Kelly brings to the game.
The Rebel receivers could have a big day against these Arkansas corners with the tallest one being 6’1″, but I don’t believe he starts. I believe the two juniors, Jared Collins and D.J. Dean who are 5’11” and 5’10” will have the task of covering the wide receivers. Treadwell being a solid 6’2″ could be targeted plenty of times. With his injury, he didn’t have the chance to face this Razorback defense last year. Last season, it was the 6’3″ Quincy Adebiyejo who led the team in receptions with six for 73 yards.
The Rebel defense will be hit hard with Arkansas’ downhill runs led by Alex Collins. The Rebels are giving up an average of about 122 yards a game on the ground while Arkansas averages a little under 200 yards a game on the ground. Ole Miss will have to be physical and that includes the whole defense. Getting in the backfield is vital for the defensive line to disrupt the play action or fill the gaps. The linebackers will have a key role in covering the tight ends in the flats while the safeties will have to make the open field tackles to bring down these big running backs and tight ends.
The key to a Rebel victory is winning the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Hands down, this is the biggest offensive line the Rebels have faced this season, but defensively Ole Miss can control the line of scrimmage. The Rebels need to win the battle on the offensive side of the trenches as well so they can continue to develop the running game, eliminate batted passes, and prevent sacks. I’ve continued to say it but the Rebels have to run a lot of plays and keep it out of Arkansas’ hands to get the win.
My Pick: Ole Miss over Arkansas 31-20
Grant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is a sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at email@example.com