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Ta'amu Gets First Start as Rebels Host Hogs on Halloween Weekend

Photo by Danny Dickey

The Ole Miss Rebels close out the month of October against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Kickoff for a Halloween weekend game will be at 11 A.M. on Saturday.

Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3 SEC) is coming off a 40-24 loss to LSU in the Vaught.
“LSU did a nice job of taking away our explosive plays,” said Ole Miss coach Matt Luke. “We had some nice opportunities down the field and didn’t hit them.”
The Rebels had starting quarterback Shea Patterson go down with a season-ending torn PCL in his right knee. Prior to Patterson going down, he led the conference in passing (322.7 yards per game) and total offense (320.4 yards per game). His leg will be immobilized for two to three weeks before the doctors make a decision on surgery.
“With that injury, you go three weeks immobilizing it, then you go back and re-shoot it to find out what you’re going to do,” Luke said. “In about three weeks, we’ll find out about whether we’ll have surgery or not. I’m not sure exactly, but I believe that recovery process is 3 to 4 months.”
Backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu will get his first start in an Ole Miss uniform against the Razorbacks. Ta’amu came in and led two scoring drives against the Tigers.
“I was very pleased with Jordan’s opportunity,” Luke said. “You kind of have to base it on what you saw in the game. That’s really what we’re going off of. He’s very capable. He’s been preparing, and his moment came, and he stepped up at that moment and took advantage of the opportunities he had. I’m expecting to see more of the same, and I’m expecting everyone around him to raise their level up too. I think that’s a challenge for everybody.”
The Arkansas Razorbacks currently sit at 2-5 overall, 0-4 in SEC play. The Razorbacks have lost three straight, but four of its five losses on the season have come against teams currently ranked among the top 25 in this week’s Coaches Poll. Arkansas ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring offense, averaging 27.4 points per game, just behind Ole Miss’ mark of 30.7. Consensus All-American center Frank Ragnow anchors an Arkansas line and offense that features a pro-style attack that likes to run first and pass off of its running game.
The Razorbacks average 160.7 yards per game on the ground and feature a three-headed rushing attack. Dylan Hays, David Williams and Devwah Whaley all have 60 or more rushing attempts on the season and average around 45 yards per game apiece.
Arkansas’ signal-caller Austin Allen was named to the preseason All-SEC third team. Allen has missed the Razorbacks’ last two contests after injuring his right shoulder against South Carolina. Allen has completed 66 of his 117 passes for eight scores and four interceptions.  
Jonathan Nance has been Arkansas’ biggest threat at the receiver position, tallying two 100-yard games this season, and ranks third in the SEC with five receiving touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Arkansas is giving up 35.7 points per game, allowing 40 or more points in its last three contests. Most recently, Alabama and Auburn ran for 308 and 345 yards respectively.
“They’re a big, physical team,” Luke said. “They’re going to come in here and run it at us. We’re going to have to do a great job of stopping the run. They’re going to make us prove that we can stop the run. Defensively, I thought they did a really good job in the first half of holding Auburn down. They had a big 4th-and-1 stop, had a pick and then the dam just kind of broke open on them. But I like the way they’re competing. They play with energy and fire. Dre Greenlaw has been there for a long time — very good linebacker. Their front three are physical. They play a three-down front. That’s the biggest change — they went from a four-down to a three-down front. But I was impressed with what I saw defensively on them.”
Saturday’s game is the 63rd all-time meeting on the gridiron between the Razorbacks and the Rebels. Arkansas holds a six-game advantage in the series, but in Oxford Ole Miss leads the series at 7-5.
Fans can watch the game on SEC Network or listen on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.
For more questions or comments email us at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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