"The fact that they lost their outside linebacker, one of the most significant guys of them all, it doesn't really change our plan much," Borges notes. "We'll probably be doing the same thing whether he's in there or not. Now if they lost four guys who were starters that might change our plan. Or a corner, somebody like that."
One area that has been a concern for the Tigers this year is in pass protection, where quarterback Brandon Cox has been sacked 24 times this season. However, none have come since the first half of the Florida game six quarters ago. Borges says that gives his offensive line some confidence heading back into the SEC schedule.
"I think more so than before, but these guys will be a more formidable test," Borges says. "They sacked us more than anybody last year. They sacked us four or five times last year. We didn't give up many sacks last year. I thought they did a really good job defending us as well as anybody we played in my opinion."
Head coach Ed Orgeron runs the defense for the Rebels, and he brought with him many schemes that were used during his time as defensive line coach at Southern Cal from 1998-2004. The key player for the Rebels on defense is the man in the middle at linebacker, Patrick Willis, who is a semifinalist for the Lombardi and Butkus Awards this year.
"They have what I think is the best defensive players in the league in Willis," Borges notes. "He makes every tackle and he made about a million against us last year, so we've got to find a way to get him blocked. They have a nice pressure package, a zone blitz package, coupled with the ability to bring the safeties down and pack the paint and try to stop the run like so many teams we've played. They're so similar in a lot of ways, but then again they do a few things different, too.
"It reminds me a lot of when I was in the Pac-10--Pete Carroll's defense," Borges adds. "I think they use a lot of what Pete did. They're active and they play as hard as any team we've played, maybe harder. That's a reflection of Ed. Ed is a real go-getter. He'll get their blood flowing."
Cox was en fuego against Tulane completing 16-19 attempts and will look to stay hot against the Rebels.
The Rebels defensive package is mostly a 4-3 under, where the strongside linebacker lines up over the tight end on the line of scrimmage. They also run some base 4-3 and make it a point to stop the run.
"In one look they have a shaded noseguard who is over-shifted to the strongside, in another look he's shifted to the backside," Borges explains. "And you get three linebackers inside. That's the 4-3 and then the other is when you've got two linebackers inside. They'll always have the ability to bring a safety down to help with the running game and make your quarterback beat you with the pass."
Unlike last week, Borges will have the services of three of his playmakers on offense at the running back positions. According to Borges, Kenny Irons is "still a little gimpy," Brad Lester "doesn't look like he's injured" and Carl Stewart had a good week of practice and "is looking pretty good."