Here’s more on Ole Miss football from Hayden Sowers …
Ole Miss’s second game comes in as the second easiest game on the Rebels 2012 schedule. On September 8 the UTEP Miners roll into Oxford coming off a 5-7 season. The Rebels should be 1-0 and have a little momentum going, with a good chance to improve to 2-0 against the Miners. Here’s my preview:
– On offense UTEP was right in the middle of the pack of the NCCA rankings last year averaging 225 yards per game through the air and 155 on the ground. Gone are tailbacks Joe Banyard, Vernon Frazier, and Leilyon Myers, who accounted for 1,634 of the Miner’s 1,859 rushing yards and 21 out of 24 TDs on the ground. Look for Nathan Jeffery to take over the ground attack, but he only carried the ball 26 times last season. The Miners do return Senior QB Nick Lamalson, who when healthy last season was a formidable QB throwing 12 TDs. During the spring 4 out of 5 starting lineman sat out with injuries, and the Miners have played musical chairs on the line for the past two years after being beset by injuries. Coach Mike Price has been known as one of the great QB-developing coaches in the nation, and one who loves to throw it so look for the Miners to come into Oxford throwing it 40 times.
– On defense, just like Central Arkansas yesterday, the Miners really struggled last year giving up 30 points per game ranking 86th in the nation. Topping that only 4 starters return on a defense led by safety DeShaw Grayson, who had 67 tackles and two interceptions. The Miners allowed 7 teams to rush for 200 yards last year and averaged giving up 189 yards per game on the ground. That is good for the Rebels because the OL needs to build some confidence, and having two teams who really struggle on defense coming into Oxford the first two week can’t do anything but help.
– Prediction: Ole Miss 35, UTEP 21. I think the game is close until the 4th quarter when Ole Miss just pulls away based on a talent level that is about the Miners. If Lamalson gets hot and they can protect him it could get dicey for the Rebels, who are paper thin in the secondary. That being said UTEP shouldn’t be that good, but they do play Oklahoma in the first week so if they can build any momentum off of that game they good come in and surprise the Rebels. Anything other than 2-0 going into the Texas game would be a huge disappointment as after the first two and Tulane at game number 4, the wins don’t just jump off the schedule at you.