Strictly for entertainment purposes, here’s the weekly guess. Leave your logic below.
Yesterday I was driving back from the media opp in which former Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat discussed his new book and along the way was doing a mental checklist on what I have and haven’t done for game week coverage.
It was then that I remembered the predictions post. A Thursday game has me off base a little bit. This post will appear on Thursdays for a regular Saturday game.
Things are different in a shortened game week, so here we go.
I do not believe the rape case at Vanderbilt will be a distraction for the Commodores. If all that had happened last week and not in June then perhaps.
When you’ve gone through a summer of conditioning followed by the long, hot month that is August, June seems like a long time ago.
The bigger issue for Vanderbilt will be the status of WR Chris Boyd. He’s 6-4 and had 50 catches with five touchdowns last year. He’s their No. 2 WR and is currently suspended, but Ole Miss players and coaches have prepared as if he will play.
Boyd is a big deal. The third-leading Vanderbilt last year was running back Wesley Tate with 12 catches. If Boyd doesn’t play that gives the Rebels’ inexperienced cornerbacks more time to focus on Jordan Matthews (94 catches, 1,323 yards, 8 TDs last year).
Vanderbilt returns a lot of experience but will have three new defensive line starters. Those who have watched the Commodores in practice say this is an area in which there’s been really good recruiting, and there are high expectations for the new starters.
Ole Miss returns four out of offensive linemen. This wasn’t a big, physical group last year, and this will be a good test to see if they have truly improved.
I like the Rebels at running back, even though there’s very little experience behind Jeff Scott.
If Ole Miss has success between the 20s the way it did last year this game will turn on what the Rebels get done in the red zone. They were terribly inefficient down close against the Dores a year ago, and it ended it up costing them the game. The Rebels kicked three field goals of less than 30 yards in a one-point loss. Had they scored touchdowns they’d have won going away. Another point to consider in a field-goal kicking game. Ole Miss no longer has the reliable Bryson Rose, and Andrew Ritter will be making his first start as the placement kicker.
Offensive coordinator Dan Werner seemed to take the lack of red zone success all on his shoulders at the Monday presser this week. Bo Wallace claimed some of the blame too, saying his own poor decisions factored into scoring field goals instead of touchdowns.
Hugh Freeze called out Wallace for poor decisions the first week of camp, but Wallace seems to have distanced himself from that and finished the month in pretty good shape in that regard. The shoulder seems good too, throws have been strong and accurate for the most part, at least the ones open for media view.
Here’s the bottom line: These teams were evenly matched last year and should be again. Both were playing well at the end of 2012. Both were impressive in bowl games, and both enter the season with high expectations.
In situations like this the team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.
Prediction: Ole Miss 26, Vanderbilt 20