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Ole Miss Faces Offensive Battle Against SLU at the Vaught

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Elijah Moore scampers to the end zone. Photo by Walter Lyle.

Ole Miss returns to action on Saturday as they step out of conference play to host the Southeastern Louisiana Lions at the Vaught. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on SEC Network Alternate.

Ole Miss (1-1) picked up its first win of the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks 31-17 last weekend. The Rebels currently sit atop of the Western Division standings at 1-0 in conference play.

This season, one of the Rebels’ Nasty Wide Outs (NWO) Braylon Sanders went down against the Memphis Tigers with a hamstring injury. The junior missed the SEC opener against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“Braylon is doing good. He is running more,” head coach Matt Luke said. “It is a little bit different in running straight ahead than bursting and changing speeds. I still think he will be a game time decision.”

The Landshark defense lost linebacker MoMo Sanogo to an ankle injury against the Razorbacks early in the game. He will be out for 10 weeks. Despite the injury, Luke said the defense “has not lost a step” with sophomore Jacquez Jones who has “stepped in and done a good job.”

“Jacquez (Jones) picked up right there and thankfully he had played some last year in that role,” Luke said. 

The Southeastern Louisiana Lions head into Oxford 1-0 after a season-opening upset win over No. 6 Jacksonville State (FCS) on Aug. 29. The Lions’ week two matchup vs. Bethune-Cookman was canceled due to the effects of Hurricane Dorian in the Daytona Beach, Florida area. In their win over JSU, the Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a convincing 35-14 victory. SLU (1-0) picked up its first win over a top 10 team since a 34-21 victory over No. 4 Sam Houston State on Nov. 16, 2013. 

The Lions jumped on the visiting Gamecocks (0-1) from the outset and sent the five-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champions to just its 13th loss since the start of the 2014 campaign. SLU recorded six sacks and two interceptions in the victory.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Chason Virgil returned with 3,034 passing yards as a junior and headed into his senior season with a wealth of receiving weapons at his disposal, led by All-Southland returners Juwan Petit-Frere and Bransen Schwebel, as well as veterans CJ Turner, Austin Mitchell and Lorenzo Nunez. Senior defensive end Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund, who led SLU with 10 tackles for loss and six sacks as a junior, is one of two All-Southland returners on a young Lion defense, along with senior safety Xavier Lewis, who finished with 66 tackles.

“When you watch those guys on tape they have a lot of speed and weapons offensively,” Luke said. “They have probably the fastest wideout that we have seen yet.”

When the Rebels and the Lions tee the ball up on Saturday it will be the second all-time meeting between the two schools. Ole Miss defeated SLU 52-6 in their lone meeting in 2009. 

Fans who are not able to make it into town for the game can watch all the action on SEC Network Alternate or listen to the game on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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