Having bought into the belief once that the run game could be something with which the Ole Miss offense could create a little momentum and find its way to the end zone, I have entered a Missouri state of mind.
Show me something.
Maybe it's all the Missouri and SEC expansion talk.
The bottom line is I need to see some production from the offensive line and running backs. When that happens I think the offense will begin to move. Some pressure will be lifted off the shoulders of Zack Stoudt, and he'll be more effective with getting the talented freshmen receivers involved.
Unless, of course, Stoudt is in the game far less and Randall Mackey far more.
Mackey has clearly been the “2” in the two-quarterback system, but yesterday he answered questions like he knew something was up. Asked point blank if he had been told he was going to start Saturday night at Fresno State, Mackey said, “Well, I don't know, maybe.”
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is clearly bothered that the Rebels can't run the ball. He is a firm believer that you have to run to set up everything else. If Ole Miss can run the ball effectively – Right now the Rebels are averaging just 61 yards a game against FBS opponents – Mackey may be able to involve the receivers just as well.
The guess here is that if Mackey does start, Stoudt continues to play a key role. They like Stoudt's huddle presence, but Stoudt may also be a little less sure of himself in the wake of his erratic protection.
Nutt said the blocking was better last week, that running lanes were there. Until improvement shows up in the numbers it's going to be hard to rally fans around the idea that things are better.
Defensively, the Ole Miss secondary has been the most improved unit on the team. The Rebels have held up well against a couple of solid quarterbacks in BYU's Jake Heaps and Georgia's Aaron Murray. They will get another strong test from Fresno quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns last week at Idaho. He spreads the ball around a good bit, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Nick Brassell more on defense than offense this week.
The Fresno defense is rather pedestrian with 157.5 rushing yards a game allowed, 74th in the nation, fifth in the WAC.
It would seem the Bulldogs could be had there if Ole Miss had been good enough to “have” anybody else.
The Rebels are in desperate need of a win, but before they can begin to right the ship they're going to have to right things in the run game.
Prediction: Fresno State 23, Ole Miss 13