Keys For Victory
1. Make it a business
Southeast Missouri State is an FCS team and not a very good one. In addition to being in a lower division the Redhawks are young and inexperienced in many spots.
It’s perfectly fine for the analysts and watchers to write and talk that way. It’s not OK for the Rebels to think that way.
There’s no “statement” to be made by Ole Miss with a big score. The Rebels just need to go out, play in a businesslike manner, and put away a lesser opponent early.
This can be an opportunity for starters to rest and freshmen to gain experience and confidence if handled in the right manner.
2. Improve in the secondary
There’s no Jordan Matthews to be seen on the SEMO roster, and the Redhawks will run an option-based offense.
The Rebels, though, did little right in pass defense last week against Vanderbilt. They didn’t get enough rush to bother QB Austyn-Carta Samuels in his first SEC start, and they didn’t cover Matthews when the ball was in the air.
This is a chance for Ole Miss to make changes in its pass defense if that is the plan of coordinator Dave Wommack. Though there will be little similarity in the SEMO offense and others Ole Miss will see, this game is also a chance to gain confidence before next week’s trip to Texas.
3. Be physical on the line
The Rebels’ offensive line in the opener looked much like it did last season, and that’s not a compliment. The Commodores were able to sack Bo Wallace four times. All of those came in the first half, but the second-half adjustments caused
Wallace to move out of the pocket more and throw the ball on the run. Few times during the night was he able to set his feet and pass.
Against a defensive front that will be significantly smaller across the line, the Rebels need to have effective, clock-eating drives on the ground and protect Wallace when they choose to pass.
That will lead to a businesslike approach of putting away the Redhawks early.
What To Watch
When Southeast Missouri has the ball
SEMO coach Tony Samuel is a Nebraska graduate and spent time on Tom Osborne’s staff during the Huskers’ heyday, the national championship seasons of 1994 and 1995.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze invoked Osborne’s name when describing the SEMO option attack early in the week.
If the Redhawks are executing on offense they will pass very little. Quarterbacks Kyle Snyder and Scott Lathrop combined to attempt only 19 passes in the season opener, and that was a game in which SEMO fell behind big early, a 45-7 loss at Southeastern Louisiana.
The Redhawks rushed for 206 yards on 46 carries, led by DeMichael Jackson, who had 61 yards on eight carries.
When Ole Miss has the ball
Look for the Rebels to try and establish that ground game. It was inconsistent last week aside from Jeff Scott’s big run.
I’Tavius Mathers is expected back this week, and the game plan will likely include more of the backup running backs – Mathers and Jaylen Walton – than it did last week.
And watch for the freshmen.
In a regular year this would be the game you try and work in the newcomers. This year is irregular. The freshmen are going to play regardless, and if Vanderbilt is an indication they’re going to play well.
For the young guys, this is a chance to pile good experience on top of good experience and build confidence going into Texas.
What they don’t need from the freshmen is for them to think, “Hey, this is easy.”
<b>SEMO option game
vs. Ole Miss DL</b>
While Vanderbilt tested inexperienced cornerbacks, SEMO will challenge the Rebels to keep their eyes in the right places and be assignment sound, a task in which Freeze gave his team mixed reviews in the opener.
That will demand an increased level of maturity from freshman Robert Nkemdiche and will also require discipline from new Stinger linebackers Serderius Bryant and Keith Lewis.
Ole Miss will have a physical edge in this game and will need to play with the growing maturity it has recently shown.