“The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.” – Ginni Rometty
The Rebels, if you can believe it or not, are almost to the halfway point of the season on the board at # 16 with a 2-2 record. Probably not what most had hoped for in the grander scheme of things, but they did manage to survive the September storms.
Through the course of the last few weeks, we have witnessed the many faces of this Rebel team have managed to heighten our blood pressure in excitement or just make our blood boil in anger. Whatever the case may be, it has been a time of transformations for Coach Freeze and this team to find their complete identity.
This past weekend, for the first time this season, we were able to witness the Rebels we have long waited for. The Rebels commanded the gridiron for two full halves with no hesitation. The complete team that has been long awaited had finally arrived. However, what drove that to come out was not just talent, but rather pure emotions of anger and passion to redeem themselves. We saw a Rebel team that got back to playing for themselves again. They never gave, which proved to make all the difference.
From here on out, most teams with this kind of momentum try to maintain what got them to this point to begin with and stay on top.
Before I get into the analysis part of the this week’s match up, the one message I can say is that even in this momentum the Rebels need to continue to play from their heart and intensity that they started out with from the beginning. Don’t focus on the scoreboard or keeping your place in the rankings, just play with that glimmer of passion, that inner desire that produces all the emotions it takes to muscle through each of these obstacles. If they can incorporate that with the logistics of their playbook, then the team that we have watch transformed may have finally reached the point of reckoning and redemption.
The Offense Quick Stats:
The Rebs have averaged roughly 40 points, accounted for 131.8 rushing yards and 326.5 passing yards per game turning the ball over eight times. The Rebels have dominated this season with a pretty impressive uptempo offense that has been hard to keep up with for their opponents. Furthermore, the Rebels finally emerged with a run game last week against Georgia that completed the missing link to make this offense quite dangerous.
When Chad Kelly and his arsenal are on, they are on. Kelly is at 65.4 percent in pass completion with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Kelly has also rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown. The Rebels backfield arsenal has had some key moments that have given a glimpse to what kind of force it can be when it comes together. The Rebels will continue to rely on their top rusher Akeem Judd who leads with 194 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Kelly will also be looking to his go-to-guy Evan Engram, who is credited for 26 receptions and three touchdowns. The Rebels arsenal come Saturday will round out with Damore’ea Stringfellow and Van Jefferson, who each have 14 catches this season.
The Landshark Defense Quick Stats:
The Rebels signature Landshark Defense has helped keep Ole Miss out of troubled waters and come up big when it mattered. However, a one-sided ball club can only get you so far and has only so many life lines. Defensively, the Rebels have found themselves treading water and barely being able to stay afloat one too many times this season, which has resulted in their losses and giving up major leads in key match ups. The Ole Miss defense is allowing 30 and more yards per game with one interception, three fumble recoveries and seven sacks.
They have allowed roughly 35 points and 464 yards per game with only two turnovers. The movers and the shakers that you can expect to see come up big for the Rebels will be one of the top pass rushers, Marquis Haynes, with 15 tackles and two sacks. His partner-in-crime will be the top tackler DeMarquis Gates with 30 tackles and two sacks. The Rebel D-line will be looking to put pressure on a successful Memphis offense that has put up 35 on the board quick. Be looking for the Rebels leading tackler Terry Caldwell with 24 tackles and Zedrick Woods with 21 tackles to be another round of lights out on the Tigers.
Kick off Keys to the Game
Keep the Tempo & Balance:
We saw what happens when the Rebels execute and play a complete ball game. The Rebels will be out for blood and ready to avenge last year’s road loss to the Tigers on their turf. Chad Kelly and his offensive arsenal need to continue to execute that uptempo offense early on. The Rebels have to continue to have the presence of the run-game. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty, but it needs to exist from this game forward if they have a chance of survival the rest of the season.
Play Lights Out Defense:
Memphis QB Riley Ferguson is impressive completing 61 of 91 passes for 843 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions that has led the Tigers to be undefeated. The Rebels signature Landshark defense has had some issues this season, but it has proved it can stop the pass quickly when it gets in motion. The Rebels will need to continue to put pressure early on this Tiger offense and not let them gain momentum too early or too quickly.
Finish What You Start:
The statement speaks for itself and is pretty straight forward. We have seen what can happen when Coach Freeze and his team play a complete ball game. The Rebels need to finish what they start and play the full 60 minutes.
When the last down is played and time has expired, who will be left standing this time? If the Rebels can play the way we saw them against Georgia, they will be left standing the winners in this match up.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.