When LSU and Ole Miss lock horns at 2:30 Saturday afternoon in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the matchups will be interesting to say the least.
The Rebels will pit their SEC-leading offense, averaging 526 yards a game, against LSU's defense, third in the SEC allowing just 342 yards per outing. Chad Kelly heads up with offense with a league-leading 3,224 passing yards, nearly 600 yards ahead of number two, MSU's Dak Prescott. WR Laquon Treadwell has 1,002 receiving yards and also leads the SEC by over 100 yards.
LSU's powerful run attack, featuring Leonard Fournette, who was the Heisman leader six weeks into the season, but has sputtered a little recently, will go against the fifth-rated Rebel defense that struggled against the Hogs by giving up 600 yards in their last effort.
The Rebel offense only mustered 7 points in a 10-7 loss in Baton Rouge last year in a game that knocked the Rebs from the undefeated ranks.
"They have a typical SEC defense," said OC Dan Werner. "They have a lot of great athletes who can run and they are physical up front. They shut us down last year. We are looking for different results this year."
The Rebel offense has been operating at a high level recently, scoring 45 points in regulation against Arkansas.
On the other side of the ball, will the Tigers go with 22 personnel (2 tight ends and 2 backs) like they did against Ole Miss last year and try to pound the ball, or will they go with more 11 personnel (1 back, 1 tight) like they did against Arkansas last week? One would have to reasonably assume it will be the former and the Rebels will have the option to counteract that by employing their bigger lineup on defense if they so choose.
"LSU is capable of coming right at you or going downfield with the ball," noted Hugh Freeze. "We have to be ready for whatever they choose to do."
The Rebels practiced in the Manning Center Tuesday as an impending storm headed toward Oxford. There were high winds and clouds rolling in all afternoon. Up to five inches of rain is expected in the next 12-24 hours in Lafayette County.
DE Fadol Brown (foot issue) was not at practice Tuesday. His status for Saturday will be determined Thursday. We did not see anyone else missing from practice.
Husky Tony Conner was dressed out and looked better than he did the week of the Arkansas game in terms of his movement.
* Back in the summer, DC Dave Wommack talked about the ability of the Ole Miss defense to "go fast or go big." At that time, "going big" meant, essentially, using all the big bodies on the DL and shuffling them around, including Robert Nkemdiche at DE. If LSu comes out in 22 personnel, that would not be a surprising move by the Rebels, but then again, it's difficult to take Marquis Haynes out of the lineup for any reason. . . . Unlike last year, however, at least the Rebs have the "going bigger" option available to them.
* The Rebel run attack has been progressing the past three games with good showings against Texas A&M, Auburn and Arkansas. It doesn't seem to be a coincidence the run game started coming around when Laremy Tunsil came back off of suspension, Aaron Morris knocked off some of the rust he played with early in the year, Fahn Cooper was able to move back to his natural right tackle slot and Jordan Sims took over at right guard for Rod Taylor, who is available but still struggling with his dislocated shoulder. Add Ben Still at center to the mix and there's your starting OL for the LSU game as well.
* Speaking of Sims, it was documented this week in a feature about his weight loss and how it helped his development, but since weight loss was his emphasis, and his movement improved greatly because of it, his strength levels did not go up during that time. "Now, we can keep concentrating on his quick twitch movements but we can also get back on his strength issues," noted S&C Coach Paul Jackson. Sims is already doing a nice job as is. Imagine him with SEC strength too. . . .
* Redshirt QBJason Pellerin came to Ole Miss as a 230-pounder with an erratic arm. After months of hard work, he's now a 225-pounder with more strength and an arm that has settled into a rhythm of accuracy. (It's always been strong.) "They tore his body down to 220, taught him proper lifting techniques and now he's building back up," said Werner. "I am very pleased with his progress. I think at first, he was pressing with his passing. Now he's relaxed and it's showing in his accuracy, which has improved quite a bit. Jason is a great kid."