2011 Media Days: Legge's Look at Ole Miss

BIRMINGHAM - Dean Legge's look at the Ole Miss Rebels.

Ole Miss
September 24, 2011
Sanford Stadium
Overall Record: 30-12
Last 10 Meetings: 8-2
Richt vs. Ole Miss: 4-0

The loss to lowly Jacksonville State didn't do Houston Nutt any favors in Oxford last season. After back-to-back seasons of playing the Cotton Bowl a new reality hit Nutt after that contest: the pressure was on to make the Rebels competitive again in the SEC West. If that doesn't happen in 2011 Nutt could be in some trouble.

Ole Miss fans seem to be a patient bunch – after all they suffered with Ed Orgeron stalking the sidelines for three painful seasons. With Nutt a new era seemed to be ushered in. Nutt, a more than capable coach, lead the Rebels to back-to-back 9-win seasons. But last year's finish at the bottom of the SEC West coupled with Mississippi State's solid season put the Rebel faithful in a panic.

Georgia and Ole Miss were once rivals each year. The Bulldogs return to Oxford for the first time since 2006 – a game that saw Joe Cox get his first career start, and saw Matthew Stafford finish the game because Cox was not getting the job done.

The game is the traditional SEC crossover that doesn't play any more. The Dawgs and Rebels don't play one another each season - Florida and Auburn don't play one another each season any more, either. Moving away from the crossover game was a good thing for the SEC, but visiting Oxford (one of the most-talked-about trips in the conference) used to be nice for Bulldog fans every other year.

Ole Miss player to watch:
D.T. Shackelford
6-1, 235

Shackelford is steadily growing into a defensive force at Ole Miss. He contributed as a freshman in 2009. Last season, as a sophomore, he had at least half a sack or more in six of the Rebels 12 regular season games. He finished with 47 tackles in 2010, and should be in the mix for twice as many this season. With an offense still struggling for solidarity, the pressure will be on the Ole Miss defense to give its offensive counterparts a margin for growing pains. Shackelford must lead that charge.

What the Dawgs must do:
Be awake. Of late Georgia has fallen to sleep in some road games – particularly on offense – compared to the way they once played on the road. The Dawgs struggled to score at Tennessee in 2009, played horribly all around at Mississippi State and struggled to find themselves without A.J. Green at South Carolina in 2010. Georgia needs to start playing better on the road, and that starts with scoring when the chance presents itself. That didn't happen because of mental mistakes in Columbia and Starkville. If Georgia wants a fight on their hands they can fumble inside the five-yard line as happened in both of those games.

Inside the numbers:
Defense was a real problem at Ole Miss last season. The Rebels allowed the opposition to score 28 or more points in eight of their contests – they lost all but two of those games.

Recruiting Implications:
Very Little. While the Rebels may well have a fair amount of foot traffic in metro Atlanta, like most every other school in the SEC, Georgia and Ole Miss don't normally butt heads in the world of recruiting. Georgia has reached for a player or two from across the conference, and Ole Miss has signed a notable player every now and then from in the Peach State, but the two programs are not recruiting against one another on an every-day basis.

Last year's prediction (vs. Arkansas) : Stopping the run is always the key in the SEC, but here it is even more important. If Arkansas is balanced on offense Georgia is going to have a more difficult time winning the game.
The Hogs were able to establish enough of a run presence – albeit not much of one – to keep Georgia honest. That hurt the Dawgs and Ryan Mallett sliced up the Dawgs for a game-winning score with less than a minute to go in the game.

Last game vs. Georgia: Thomas Brown thrashes the Rebels as Georgia pulls away in the second half for a 45-17 win. Soldier Boy is introduced to the Sanford Stadium Crowd

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