PREVIEW: Ole Miss offense vs. LSU defense

TSD's Austin Cooper breaks down the matchups when Donte Moncrief and the Ole Miss offense is on the field Saturday against John Chavis' LSU defense.

Projected Starting Lineups

Ole Miss Offense
QB Bo Wallace, RB Jeff Scott, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Vince Sanders, WR Ja-Mes Logan, TE Ferbia Allen, LT Emmanuel McCray, LG Aaron Morris, C Evan Swindall, RG A.J. Hawkins, RT Pierce Burton

LSU Defense (4-3)
DE Sam Montgomery, DT Bennie Logan, DT Josh Downs, DE KeKe Mingo, WLB Lamin Barrow, MLB Kevin Minter, SLB Lamar Louis, CB Jalen Mills, FS Eric Reid, SS Craig Loston, CB Tharold Simon

With the LSU offense finally finding its identity in recent weeks, the Tiger defense simply has to maintain and do the things it has done all year for their matchup with Ole Miss on Saturday.

Ole Miss comes into the game ranked seventh in the SEC in scoring offense, averaging just under 30 points per game. Having a lot of different options on offense, the Rebels could present mismatches for the Tigers on certain parts of the field.

However, this game will once again be won or lost up front as the Ole Miss offensive line will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility, from opening up holes for running back Jeff Scott, to giving quarterback Bo Wallace enough time to throw. With the Tigers leading the conference in takeaways with 25, it should be an exciting game.

BO WALLACE VS. THE LSU SECONDARY

Bo Wallace, the Ole Miss sophomore quarterback, is coming off of a loss to Vanderbilt in which he set a career high in passing yards with 403 and a touchdown. While that may have been a career night for Wallace last week, the Rebel passing game has been efficient all season. Coming into this week they rank fifth in the SEC in passing offense, averaging 247.6 yards per game. Wallace has also enjoyed a productive season so far, ranking sixth in the SEC with 2,239 yards and 12 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. On the contrary, the LSU defense leads the conference in passing defense, allowing 165.7 yards per contest and 10 touchdowns on the season.

The LSU defense is also third in the conference with 14 interceptions. While the Tigers have some youth in the secondary, they should have a productive day if Wallace is pressured early and often. That will take a lot of pressure off of the defensive backs and really allow them to go to work in the secondary. If Ole Miss slips behind early, the LSU secondary will be relied on to take over the game and control the Rebel passing attack, something that they are very capable of doing.

OLE MISS RUSHING ATTACK VS. LSU LINEBACKERS

This aspect of the game will be key to LSU's ability to slow down the Rebel offense. Ole Miss enters the game ranking seventh in the SEC in rushing yards per game with 165.6. The leading rusher on the Ole Miss squad, junior Jeff Scott, comes into the game with 680 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, ranking eighth in the SEC. Scott is also someone known for his elusiveness and speed, so stopping him will be a key for the LSU defense.

The LSU defense enters this game allowing an average of 97.2 rushing yards per contest, ranking second in the SEC behind only Alabama. In last week's contest against Mississippi State, the Tigers gave up 47 net rushing yards, and they will need a similar performance this week. LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow had a great game last week with nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Barrow, along with Kevin Minter will be crucial in stopping the Rebel rushing attack. If the LSU defense can put a damper on the Ole Miss running game, it could be a very long day for the Rebels, given that they will become a one-dimensional team.

THE BATTLE IN THE TRENCHES

As was stated above, this is where the game will be won or lost. The Ole Miss offensive line will have a lot of pressure on it to create holes in the running game as well as provide protection for Wallace in the passing game. The LSU defense, led by ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, has 26 sacks on the season, ranking fifth in the SEC in that category. On the opposite side of the ball, the Ole Miss offense ranks 12th in the SEC in sacks allowed, having already given up 29 on the season. LSU has been known as a team that can control the line of scrimmage very easily, and this week shouldn't be any different.

The main focus of the LSU defense up front will be stopping Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott, forcing the Rebels to become a pass first team. Given LSU's recent success on defense, if Montgomery or Mingo get rolling on the line it will not allow quarterback Bo Wallace to get into a rhythm, something Coach Hugh Freeze said earlier in the week would be a necessity in the game. Look for LSU to apply pressure to Wallace early and often in the hopes of forcing turnovers and keeping him out of rhythm.

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