The 'Dores notched their first dominating road performance last week in a 40-0 stomping of Kentucky. Again on the road, Vandy faces a much stiffer opponent this week in a matchup with Ole Miss (5-4, 2-3) in a battle for bowl eligibility.
The Rebels have been very impressive in head coach Hugh Freeze's first year with two more conference wins than 2011 combined. Ole Miss tied its win total from last year in the first two games against Central Arkansas and UTEP before falling 66-31 to Texas at home. Against No. 1 ranked Alabama, the Rebels jumped up 7-6 lead in the second quarter but Alabama wasted no time with a 99-yard kick return for a score on the ensuing kickoff. Ole Miss had interceptions on three straight drives and the Tide made them pay with 14 points off the costly turnovers.
Ole Miss took a gamble against Texas A&M on fourth-and-one on their own 39-yard line when Jeff Scott was stopped at the line of scrimmage. The Aggies capitalized on the good field position with a 20-yard Johnny Manziel touchdown pass to Ryan Swope to defeat the Rebels 30-27. The next week against Auburn, the Rebels ran away with game in the fourth with 17 unanswered points; the victory snapped a 16 game conference losing streak.
Ole Miss enjoyed a bye week before their second straight SEC win and first conference win on the road since beating Vanderbilt 23-7 in 2009. The Rebels had two interceptions, a blocked punt, and capitalized with 10 points. With the game tied 27-27, Bo Wallace marched the Rebels eight plays and 61 yards before Bryson Rose kicked the game winning 31-yard field goal as time expired.
Last week against Georgia, the Rebels jumped out to a 10-0 lead with a 13-yard Wallace touchdown pass to Jamal Mosley. The Bulldogs took control when Ole Miss bit hard on a play action and Aaron Murray found Marlon Brown wide open for a 66-yard touchdown pass. Georgia scored 37 unanswered points and 384 total yards, and the Rebels remained one win short of bowl eligibility.
Ole Miss' "hurry up" spread offense is led by Bo Wallace--who is a very mobile quarterback--completing 152 for 230 pass attempts for 1,836 yards passing and 11 touchdowns, averaging 204 yards per game. Wallace is second on the team with 98 rushes for 265 yards with five touchdowns; he has started all nine games for an Ole Miss squad that is averaging 408 total yards of offense per game--an increase from 280 total yards per game in 2011.
Sophomore receiver Donte Moncrief leads the Rebels with 39 receptions for 540 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Vince Sanders and junior Ja-Mes Logan tie for second with 24 catches, while combining for 52.6 receiving yards per game.
Athlete Randall Mackey has been all over the field for the Rebels with 5 pass attempts, 20 receptions, 54 rushes for 225 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns. Mackey's 274 receiving yards are good for second on the team and he threw a touchdown pass against Auburn.
Senior tight end Jamal Mosley has 2 touchdown receptions in nine games and two starts. In nine starts, tight end Ferbia Allen has 7 receptions and caught a season-high, 51-yard reception against Georgia.
Jeff Scott leads the Rebels rushing game that averages 177.9 yards rushing per game. In 126 rush attempts the junior running back has gained 633 rushing yards and six scores, averaging 79.1 rushing yards per game.
The offensive line is led by senior A.J. Hawkins who has started in 25 games for the Rebels. The senior won SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance in Week 2 when the Rebels gained 538 total yards against UTEP. Junior Evan Swindall has started all nine games for the Rebels this season and is on the watch list for the Remington Trophy for the nation's best center.
Juniors Pierce Burton and Emmanuel McCray are doing well in their first seasons starting on the Rebel offensive line; Burton is a junior college transfer from City College of San Francisco and McCray did not see the field in 2011.
At left guard, Aaron Morris has continued to contribute at a high level. Morris is considered one of the most talented lineman at 6-5, 330 pounds with 13 career starts as a sophomore.
Hugh Freeze's 4-2-5 defense has vastly improved Ole Miss' run defense who opponents racked up 224.9 rushing yards per game against last year. This season opponents are rushing for 76.8 less yards per game against the Rebels. The Rebel defense currently ranks third in the conference and is tied for 15th in the country, averaging over 7 tackles for loss per game. The pass defense isn't bad either, ranking second in the conference behind South Carolina and 11th in the country averaging 3 sacks per game.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche has been outstanding, tied for first with 60 tackles--including a team-high 9 for a loss, with 2 sacks, and 2 interceptions. Junior middle linebacker Mike Marry is another reason for the big turnaround in run defense. Marry is third on the team with 51 tackles, 4½ for a loss, and an interception.
Freshman linebacker Mike Hilton has started three games and played in eight; the true freshman has contributed nicely with 3½ tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.
The Rebels defensive front is led by sophomore defensive end C.J. Johnson, who has 4 tackles for a loss, 3½ sacks, and 2 quarterback hurries. At the other end position, junior Cameron Whigham has eight starts for the Rebels with 20 tackles, a tackle for a loss, and 2 fumble recoveries. True freshman nose tackle Isaac Gross has been a pleasant surprise with 5½ tackles for a loss, 2½ sacks, and a quarterback hurry.
The Ole Miss secondary is giving up about 45 more passing yards per game this season and has already reached the interception total (10) from a year ago. Coach Freeze noted that senior defensive backs Wesley Pendleton and Senquez Golson may be back for the Vanderbilt game.
Sophomore free safety Cody Prewitt is tied for first on the team with 60 tackles, a pair of interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries.
Junior cornerbacks Charles Sawyer and Dehendret Collins have caused problems for opposing quarterbacks all season; Sawyer leads the pair with 3½ tackles for a loss, an interception, and four pass break ups.
The highlight of the season for the Rebels special teams was when true freshman Jaylen Walton returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score against the visiting Longhorns.
Rebel punter Jim Broadway is currently fifth in the SEC and 20th in the country, averaging 43 yards per punt.
Bryson Rose is also enjoying an excellent senior season; the place kicker shares a three-way tie for fourth in the conference, making 69 percent of field goal attempts with a season long of 53 yards against Arkansas.
Just like every other game, the game at Ole Miss is the most important of the season for the Commodores. Two up and coming coaches with bowl eligibility on the line only makes the matchup more exciting. The Rebels look very similar to a 2011 Vanderbilt squad that was coming into its new identity. Ole Miss has improved in just about every facet of the game and will be looking for revenge.
Scouting Report: Ole Miss
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