KEYS FOR VICTORY
1. Gang tackling
LSU running back Jeremy Hill (6-2, 235) is a big boy, and he’s got plenty of help behind him.
The Rebels had been pretty good against the run before the last two weeks. Texas A&M ran for 241 yards, and all of that isn’t attributed to improvisation by Johnny Manziel. Aggie backs Ben Malena and Trey Williams gashed the Rebels, too.
Ole Miss may benefit from facing an offense with more traditional sets. Stopping the run – the first goal in every game – will depend on eliminating assignment busts and wrapping up at the point of attack.
2. Catch the ball
Throughout the A&M game, Bo Wallace’s comments regarding the Rebels’ having better receivers than the Aggies kept ringing in my head.
It sure didn’t look that way. This group has too many crucial drops over the last two weeks, a disturbing trend.
The talent is there, but the production hasn’t been.
Ole Miss receivers need to step up and play to their standard tonight.
3. Fast start on offense
LSU fixed some things against Florida. Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State, the Tigers’ three previous SEC opponents, had rushed for an average of 208.3 yards before they held Florida to 111 yards on 40 carries.
Ole Miss showed an improved run game last week, but it came against the worst run defense in the league, and the Rebels’ 133 yards still didn’t approach the 214 Texas A&M was allowing on average.
Ole Miss needs a fast start in the ground game to sustain possession and open up play-action passing.
WHAT TO WATCH
When LSU has the ball
The emergence of Zach Mettenberger at quarterback has magnified the skills of LSU receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Beckham is averaging 104.7 receiving yards a game, Landry 96.3. It won’t be a problem figuring out who Mettenberger will target. Landry has 46 catches, Beckham 37. The next-leading LSU pass-catcher is running back Jeremy Hill with eight.
Speaking of the ground game. The Tigers are deep at running back as they usually are, but Hill – whose future was in jeoparday with legal problems in the off-season – is far and away the leader with 98 attempts and an average of 7.3 yards per carry.
Three other backs have carries ranging from 39-44.
Ole Miss did a good job against Hill last year limiting him to 77 yards on 20 carries. He’s tough to stop in close, however. Three of those carries were for touchdowns.
When Ole Miss has the ball
Backup quarterback Barry Brunetti was a bigger part of the offense against Texas A&M, completing 3-of-4 passes, two for touchdowns.
Brunetti remains the preferred option in the power run game, but the Rebels got more done between the tackles against A&M than in any other game this season as Jaylen Walton averaged 5.9 yards on seven attempts, I’Tavius Mathers 3.9 yards on eight carries.
The Rebels would like to see that kind of success again – and to revive the read option under Bo Wallace which has struggle of late – especially as Jeff Scott’s health is a bit of a question mark with a thigh bruise.
Ole Miss secondary vs. LSU receivers
The Rebels spent a week scheming for Texas A&M’s big guy, Mike Evans, and were able to limit his production in the game. Evans had just 46 receiving yards on four catches, less than half his weekly output.
Freshman Derrick Jones, the Rebels’ “bigger” corner, started the game but played very little. Holding Evans in check was done by the Ole Miss regulars. They’ll need a repeat performance tonight, and it’s not about stopping one guy. LSU has two equally dangers threats, but if you can cover them it’s unlikely the Tigers’ production will run as deep as did A&M’s.