Predictions Anyone?

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was bothered about fan expectations earlier this week, and rightfully so.

The unrealistic expectations of fans, however, is not new to college football, and it’s been a while since things have not been “right” with the Rebels.

Ole Miss is hitting a bit of adversity right now, and it’s up to Freeze to right the ship. It’s up to Freeze to find an answer for the running game as Alabama and Auburn have found ways to stop the Rebels on the perimeter, mostly by moving ends and linebackers wider in their defensive sets.

It’s not a great time to have adversity — when is, I suppose –as Johnny Manziel and No. 9 Texas A&M visits this weekend.

The most disturbing thing about the Auburn loss was that it was the first time under Freeze that the Rebels were out-performed by a team against which they were not decided underdogs. Looking back at the Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt games last  year. The Rebels didn’t win all those games, but they were right there at the end. It was anybody’s game with less than 2 minutes to play. That wasn’t the way it was at Auburn last week.

The positive to be taken from the plains is that as bad as it looked and felt, the Rebels had the ball near mid-field in the middle of the fourth quarter just a touchdown drive from taking the lead.

The trick now is to prove that a 30-22 loss at Auburn is an isolated incident and that untimely penalties, interceptions, poor run defense and tackling problems do not become a trend.

Nothing would set enthusiasm and expectation a blaze again like an upset of the Aggies.

I wouldn’t give the Ole Miss team that played last week much of a chance to pull off that upset, but I would if the offense that played most of the Vanderbilt and Texas games shows up.

The best defense against Manziel will be to keep him off the field. The larger body of work says the Rebels are capable of sustaining drives, scoring and doing just that, but there’s an alarming and more recent sample size that suggests just the opposite.

I think just getting the road games behind them and knowing they’re settling in for a long stretch of home games will take a great burden off the players. Location alone won’t win games, however, and the Rebels have to return to some efficiency on offense. They have to return to productivity in the run game, and that means having measurable success running from tackle to tackle and on first down. The Rebels faced 19 third downs at Auburn with an average “to go” yardage of 7.42. They can’t do that again.

The Aggies are giving up 214.8 yards a game, last in the SEC, and have lost a veteran down lineman. Remember, Auburn wasn’t that strong numerically either.

A good running game will lead to a good passing game.

I think the Rebels have both against Texas A&M.

Ole Miss players are embarrassed by their Auburn performance and eager to show they’re the team of the first three games of this season and not the last two.

The problem with Saturday night will be Johnny Manziel. He’s a better pocket passer, and his running, while called upon less, remains a scary threat.

Ole Miss has gotten settled down in the secondary some but may be about to voluntarily upset the apple cart if Dave Wommack and staff move Mike Hilton back to Huskie so he can do his 007 impersonation and “spy” on Manziel. That was effective for stretches of play last year. Hilton worked at Huskie and corner this week.

Freshman Derrick Jones brings, at 6-foot-3, brings an awful lot of potential to a matchup with the 6-5 Mike Evans, who is averaging almost 25 yards per reception. Coaches, though, love playing experience, and Jones brings almost none of that. He’s appeared only in the Alabama game but did manage to record four tackles. He could be used in certain situations.

At the end of the day, I think the offense shows up and has a better game. The defense will get some things done, but no other team has held the Fighting Johnnys to less than 42 points. I’m not sure the Rebels will score that much.

Prediction: Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 30

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • Cid Riley

    Johnnie 2 taints will rip up the sharkfins and leave carnage strewn about the grid iron. Aggies 56 fins 27. Sorry.

  • Noggin

    A&M 45
    Rebels 30

  • Killer_Beeze

    “I wouldn’t give the Ole Miss team that played last week much of a chance to pull off that upset, but I would if the offense that played most of the Vanderbilt and Texas games shows up.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. IF the Rebels are capable of getting their MoJo back, they will make it an exciting game and possibly upset the Aggies.
    TAMU is definitely the favorite. The sports media is betting on Johnny Manziel to storm into Oxford and defeat Johnny Reb.

  • rcpylon

    I’m going with KillerB, IF the OM offense produces, this will be a game to watch. unfortunately, they seem to have taken a step back from last years and earlier this years performances.

    the OM defense will play the way they have played all year, giving all they have for as long as they can but no team’s defense can play almost the whole game time when the offense keeps going with 3 and outs.


  • JB

    Texas A&M over Ole miss

  • Cid Riley

    The day is coming of 4 mega conferences, with 16 teams in each. It will happen sooner than later. The question is…will the two Mississippi teams be in those 64 teams? I think so, but barely.

  • Larry Box

    I’m going against my head judgement and predict that the Rebs win 43-38.

  • keith

    Johnny football leaves injured in the 3rd. (Dreamed that last night) rebs win 38-34.

  • Roger Davis

    We’ll probably get a repeat of the magnolia state’s big game…only this time it will be Ole Miss. A pretty good game for three quarters, but Manziel and a well-rested Aggie squad is way too much to overcome. Texas A&M 48, Ole Miss 31.

  • The Ghost of Col. Reb

    Ole Miss 45, Aggies 38. Some ppl @ OM tell me that Matt Luke has the O-line firing off the ball. If our corners can shut down the big receiver, Rebs win.

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