For the Tigers, Eli's Coming

Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning will test the Tigers with his talented right arm and football savvy

Auburn, Ala.--Facing what is considered one of the top offensive lines in the SEC, Auburn was consistently able to pressure LSU quarterback Marcus Randall. When that happened in Auburn's 31-7 victory over the visitors from Baton Rouge last Saturday, good things generally were soon to follow for the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn defensive ends coach Terry Price says he wants to see that same type of pass rush this week as his Tigers travel to Ole Miss to face a much more dangerous passer named Eli Manning. The Rebel junior has already surpassed the 2,000-yard barrier in passing yardage after going for 2,948 as a junior. With 181 completions in 299 attempts this year, Manning's passes have accounted for 2,203 of his team's 3,081 total yards.

"You have got to stay in his face," says Price. "I think you saw last week when you get pressure on anybody you have a chance for disruption in the passing game and cause some problems for their offense. Eli does a great job of getting rid of the ball. He has only been sacked seven times all year. Folks have had a lot of trouble getting to him. We are going to do our best putting together a package of blitzes and stunts to make sure we get somebody in his face. If we are not sacking him, we need to be hitting him and getting our hands up and knocking balls down."

Eli Manning is shown in action vs. the Tigers as linebacker Dontarrious Thomas tries to pressure the Ole Miss quarterback.

Manning completed a school record 42 passes last week and finished with 414 passing yards against the Arkansas Razorbacks, but the Rebels lost the road game 48-28 to drop to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. It should be a busy, busy Saturday in Oxford for Price's defensive ends.

"We have got to keep guys fresh so our substitution pattern is going to be important in this game," Price says. "You can't rush the quarterback with players who have dead legs. We are going to try to get as many guys in the rotation as possible and make sure they all know how to execute and run all of our pass rush game and blitzes and twists so we can keep fresh guys in there all of the time to rush Eli."

Price's starters, Reggie Torbor and Jay Ratliff, had one of their best games of the season vs. LSU and second stringers Bret Eddins and Mayo Sowell also contributed to the victory over the SEC West frontrunners who have a half-game lead over Auburn.

"I think there is no doubt about it that last week's game has given our guys some confidence," Price says. "You get confidence by playing hard, playing aggressively. I think that is what we did last week. I think the guys understand the tempo it takes to win and dominate in this league. If we continue to play at the same high level of intensity, we will have some success. I think the guys learned from that and hopefully it will carry on for the rest of the year."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Eli Manning set a school record last week with his 44th career touchdown pass. Auburn has been stingy in that department, allowing an SEC defensive low four TD passes all year despite facing two of the best quarterbacks in the country in Southern Cal's Carson Palmer and Florida's Rex Grossman...At 30.75 points per game, Ole Miss is currently on pace to finish as the fifth highest scoring team in school history. The 2001 team set the school record of 35.5 points per game and the 1961 Rebels are next at 32.6...Auburn has won eight of the last 10 games vs. the Rebels and has not lost in Oxford since Coach Pat Dye's final Auburn team, the 1992 club, was blitzed by a 45-21 margin in a game it was heavily favored to win. During that stretch the Tigers won 22-17 in 1994, 45-28 in 1996, 17-0 in 1998 and 35-27 in 2000.

Ole Miss leads the SEC in fewest sacks allowed at seven. LSU is next at eight and Auburn is third with 10 allowed. Auburn defensive tackle DeMarco McNeil says there are several reasons why Ole Miss is No. 1 in that statistic. "They have got a great offensive line," McNeil notes. "They do a lot of five step drops and three step drops and Eli has a very quick release and it is very hard to get to him. He is a very smart quarterback and that makes it even that much tougher to get to him." The good protection helped Manning throw 110 consecutive passes without an interception from the Texas Tech game to the Arkansas State game.

Eli Manning's father, Archie, is considered the greatest football player in Ole Miss history. Through 25 games, Eli has put up much better passing numbers than his dad. Archie completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 4,381 yards with 28 touchdowns and 33 interceptions in his first 25 Ole Miss games. That is an average of 175.2 passing yards per game. Eli has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 5,321 yards with 45 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions. That is an average of 212.8 passing yards per game. Eli's older brother Peyton passed for 216.6 yards per game through his first 25 games at Tennessee. Peyton, who is now a star with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, had 41 touchdowns with 16 interceptions during that stretch of games.


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