"It is a test for our linebackers," Haynes said after practice Wednesday. "And for our secondary. They are going to challenge (the secondary) vertically."
Haynes, defensive coordinator, has seen improvement over the last two weeks as the Hogs have gotten healthy on that side of the ball. But they haven't been pushed like he expects Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace to test the Hogs with the a solid option package and an up-tempo pace.
"We've looked at the option a lot the last two weeks," Haynes said. "We've gotten a lot of reps at it. It's a matter now of doing it, maintaining eye control. You have to see the option a bunch."
Safety Rohan Gaines said that "eye control" is the issue that plagued the Hogs the most early in the season. The redshirt freshman said it took him time to become disciplined.
"It's taken time to learn that focus to maintain eye control," Gaines said. "Ole Miss relies on finesse and trickery and you have to be perfect with the eye control.
"Early in the season, I was reckless. I had to calm down, slow down. I had to change my mindset and get the eye control right. I learned you can't play this level that way. You lose eye control, you lose leverage. You have to maintain your eyes in the right spot to play team defense.
"But I think I've grown a lot. In high school, I just wanted to play physical, make that hit. At this level, it's about calming down and making sure you are lined up and maintain eye control. Early on this season, I was too reckless and Coach Haynes had to sit me down. Coach Haynes settled me down."
Gaines knows what is coming from the Ole Miss offense.
"They have a simple objective, get you in a one-on-one situation and make you miss," Gaines said. "It's going to be about tackling, something we've worked hard on every day. I think it's something we've gotten better at during the season, but this is going to be a test of that."
Gaines said it won't be just about technique and fundamentals. It will be about the Hogs matching the high volume of plays and the pace of the Rebels.
"Our scout team has tried to simulate what Ole Miss does, but I don't think you can do that in practice," Gaines said. "It's just that fast. We know we have to play fast, but it is hard to get that in practice, what they do. We just are taking rep after rep and trying to get lined up as fast as possible."
Haynes said the Hogs have seen other high paced teams in Louisiana-Monroe and Texas A&M, but none are as fast as the Rebels.
"It's like Texas A&M, but faster," he said. "On film, you see a lot of teams that don't get lined up with them. It's a couple of notches faster than A&M. You can try to have the pace fast in practice, but it's difficult."
The Hogs will have more players ready in the secondary. Haynes said Tevin Mitchel is back in the starting lineup. Kaelon Kelleybrew is in the rotation at cornerback, too, and also is in the depth at the Star safety spot.
Mitchel is the top cover corner on the team and the Hogs might like to have him on Ole Miss wideout Donte Moncrief. That may not be practical.
"They just move (Moncrief) around so much and it's hard to match him up," Haynes said. "It's because of how fast they go. We want to be aware of where he is because he's such a great player. You have to know where he is."
Haynes said Kelleybrew has "done a great job" of learning the Star position.
"He's the backup Star and he'll probably get on the field in that spot, but probably he gets on the field sooner at cornerback," Haynes said. "He's still in the corner rotation."
The Hogs gave up big numbers to ULM the last time they were in Little Rock. Gaines thinks fans will see a different Arkansas defense from that.
"We are totally different," Gaines said. "First, we are more aggressive. We are tackling better. And we are not giving up big plays. That needs to be our focus this game, not giving up big plays and tackling.
"Our team doesn't lose much in Little Rock. We can't lose there. We just can't. We don't lose in Little Rock. That's the way it's been in the past and we want to go down there and win. That's all that matters."