Rebels Looking For The Upset On The Plains

A preview of the Ole Miss Rebels is featured as they prepare to face the Auburn Tigers this Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.-–Ole Miss and first-year head coach Ed Orgeron come to Auburn this weekend looking to build upon their previous two outings as the Rebels (3-4, 1-3) face the 19th-ranked Tigers (5-2, 3-1) at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday morning at 11:30 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Led by a strong defense, the Rebels enter the contest off a 13-10 win over Kentucky last Saturday in Oxford.

On offense the Rebels are led by the duo of quarterback Micheal Spurlock and tailback Mico McSwain. A 5-11 ½, 200 senior, Spurlock has been the man at quarterback all season for the Rebels despite breaking a bone in his left hand in the season opener against Memphis.

Completing 53.1 percent of his passes, Spurlock has thrown for 1,386 yards and five touchdowns this season with five interceptions. Despite being in the negative in rushing yards this season, Spurlock is exceptionally fast and could give the Tigers problems outside of the pocket on Saturday.

Michael Spurlock

When Spurlock doesn't have the ball in his hands it's normally being carried by McSwain (6-1, 203). The Ole Miss standout has already set the school record for rushing yards by a freshman with 565 and has three of the Rebels' five rushing touchdowns this season.

The top reserve tailback is Antonio Turner (6-2, 223, Fr.), who has just 79 yards this season. Don't be surprised to see wide receiver Larry Kendrick (6-0, 210, Sr.) also get some touches at tailback as Ole Miss tries to get the ball in the hands of their playmakers.

At receiver the playmakers are a solid group of three veterans. Seniors Taye Biddle (6-1, 175), Mike Espy (6-0, 195) and Mario Hill (6-1, 195) give Ole Miss one of the better receiving corps in the SEC in terms of pure speed and big play ability. Espy leads the team with 28 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns while Hill has 24 catches and a team-leading 404 yards and two scores. Biddle has 24 receptions for 369 yards.

Up front Ole Miss is led by senior right tackle Tre Stallings (6-4, 317). A starter since his freshman season, Stallings is joined by left tackle Bobby Harris (6-4, 310, Sr.), left guard Andrew Wicker (6-5, 290, Jr.), center Darryl Harris (6-3, 285, So.) and true freshman right guard Michael Oher (6-5 ½, 330) on the offensive line. The Rebels average just 105 rushing yards per game and have given up 15 sacks this season.

Patrick Willis is an animal for the Rebels on defense.

The strength of the team in on the defensive side of the ball, where, despite averaging just 15.3 points per game on offense this season, they have managed to keep games respectable. Leading the charge is a very active and physical front four led by tackles McKinley Boykin (6-2, 285, Sr.) and Michael Bozeman (6-2, 290, Sr.). The active duo have a combined 54 tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss this season.

At end the Rebels are just as talented and experienced with fellow seniors Jayme Mitchell (6-6, 285) and Corvelli Haynes (6-3, 255) patrol things for Orgeron's defense. Mitchell has 19 tackles, four for losses, and one sack this season. Haynes has 18 tackles, four and a half for a loss, with two sacks.

In the middle is perhaps the best defensive player in the SEC this season in junior Patrick Willis. Leading the SEC with 77 tackles and adding on eight tackles for a loss and two sacks to go along with his impressive stats, the 6-2, 230-pounder has been a one-man wrecking crew this season despite playing much of the year with a club on his hand to protect a broken bone. Fellow starters Kelvin Robinson (6-1, 220, Sr.) and Garry Pack (6-1, 220, So.) are second and third on the team with 55 and 35 tackles respectively. Pack is the big-play threat with four tackles for a loss, two sacks and one interception.

Orgeron is in his first season as a head coach.

In the secondary strong safety Jamarca Sanford (5-10, 200, Fr.) is the top tackler with 33 stops on the year while the top cover man is junior Trumaine McBride (5-10, 180). McBride has 20 tackles and one interception this season and has also broken up a team-leading six passes. Senior Travis Johnson (6-1, 191) mans the other corner position and has 28 tackles on the year. The starter at free safety is junior Charles Clark (6-0, 195). He has 28 stops in 2005 and has recovered a fumble.

A struggle this season for Ole Miss, the kicking game is very much a question mark for Orgeron's club. The Rebels have used three different kickers in Matt Hinkle, Will Moseley and Robert Bass, and they are a combined 8-17 on the season. Punter Rob Park (6-0, 185, Fr.) has been solid, averaging 38.2 yards per kick with five of his 18 punts inside the 20-yard line. Espy gives the Rebels a dangerous threat returning kicks, averaging 9.6 yards per punt return with one touchdown and 18.6 yards per kickoff return.

Saturday's Ole Miss at Auburn game will be televised regionally by JP.


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