Fightin’ Gators Member: Can we expect Tunsil to be back for this game?
Ben Garrett: “If there's anything I've learned from the Laremy Tunsil situation, it's to not assume anything. Though sources told the Ole Miss Spirit real progress was made last week and a resolution could come this week, I'm not counting on it until it happens. So, no, I don't expect Tunsil back for Florida, though it's certainly possible. Ole Miss needs him, for sure.”
Fightin’ Gators Member: If you were head coach of the Gators, what Ole Miss weakness would you try to exploit in order to give you the best chance at a win?
Ben Garrett: “The Ole Miss offensive line sans Tunsil didn't miss a beat the first three weeks of the season. Sure, Alabama gave the Rebels some problems, but the front held up about as well as can be reasonably expected. However, against Vanderbilt, it took a step back. Was the 27-16 Vanderbilt snoozer a one-game outlier, or is Ole Miss closer to the team that led the nation in total offense (64 points per game) after three games? The offensive line will be the deciding factor, with a strong Florida defense sure to provide a significant challenge for Fahn Cooper, Javon Patterson and company.”
Fightin’ Gators Member: Without Tunsil, how has the OL been faring? OT Cooper was the SEC's OL of the Week - is he a lone bright spot or has the line been playing well overall?
Ben Garrett: “See above. The Ole Miss offensive line has held up pretty well outside of Vanderbilt. Cooper doesn't get enough credit for how solid he is. As a right tackle, he's an NFL-caliber talent. He loses a little bit when he shifts over to left, but he's more than held his own so far after struggling with the same role (as the backup to Tunsil) a year ago. Really, Cooper has been the team MVP considering his value to the Rebel offense. Patterson, a true freshman, has been impressive at guard, and Robert Conyers has stepped in as the starting center and added some much-needed athleticism. Redshirt freshman Sean Rawlings wasn't expected to be an every-game starter this season, but he's been steady at right tackle. The real question for this group is health. Guard Justin Bell didn't play against Vanderbilt, snapping a streak of 28 straight starts. Rod Taylor, second only to Tunsil in terms of talent, has only played sparingly due to a torn labrum. If the front can get all of its bullets back, it'll have the makings of a potentially strong group.”
Fightin’ Gators Member: Is Laquon Treadwell showing any effects from the injury last season?
Ben Garrett: “Not at all. Honestly, when you watch him run, it's impossible to tell he suffered one of the most gruesome injuries you'll ever see. Laquon Treadwell is the engine that powers Ole Miss offensively. He is to the Rebels what Nick Chubb is to Georgia - everything runs through him, and he's the unquestioned leader of the team to boot. Ole Miss goes as Treadwell goes, and he's rolled for three weeks after a knock-the-rust-off season opener. While Vanderbilt was a game to forget for most, Treadwell hauled in eight passes for a career-high 135 yards. Put simply, he's back to being arguably the best wide receiver in college football, and he's on course to be the first wide receiver selected in the 2016 NFL Draft.”
Fightin’ Gators Member: What is the general consensus on Hugh Freeze's play calling, that is, if he still calls their offensive plays?
Ben Garrett: “The general consensus around Ole Miss is Hugh Freeze is a very good play-caller, possibly even dynamic, though his handling of red zone and goal-to-go situations are sometimes questionable. His critics claim he can get too cute, be it with Robert Nkemdiche at running back in a big formation, or reserve tight end Jeremy Liggins at quarterback. Even still, Ole Miss was five of six in red zone chances against Vanderbilt, and the Rebels have converted 20 of 21 chances inside the 20 this year.”
Fightin’ Gators Member: Did Vandy do things well on D to keep it close or was it just a classic letdown game after beating Bama?
Ben Garrett: “As quarterback Chad Kelly admitted afterwards, Vanderbilt did a few things schematically Ole Miss hadn't prepared for. Kelly was getting looks he hadn't seen on film, and in turn, the Rebel offense was noticeably out of rhythm all night. But it would be silly to dismiss a little bit of an Alabama hangover. Never in history had Ole Miss beaten Alabama in back-to-back weeks, and the win was the first for Ole Miss over the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa since 1988. A drop-off was inevitable. However, the Rebels can only hope they're not in for a repeat performance at Florida. If they are, they very well could walk out of Gainesville with their first loss. I think they know that, and I expect them to bounce back in a big way.”