John Thompson -

Rebel Defensive Coordinator John Thompson met the media today and kept repeating the same key word over and over and over. Physical, meaning the Ole Miss defense will have to be very physical against a very physical MSU offense in the Egg Bowl game Friday morning. Read his comments inside.

Get ready for a knockdown, drag out rumble in the Egg Bowl battle Saturday in Starkville.

Those will be the words of warning, so to speak, of Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator John Thompson to his troops this week.

"They get you packed down in the box because they put a lot of people in tight, but they know what they are doing and know how to operate that power game," Tompson said. "I have great respect for their offensive line, their offensive line coach and what they do offensively. They know what they are doing in tight confines. They get hats on you and they come right at you.

"You have to stack the box because they do. They attack you in close and run at you hard. It's going to be a really physical game and a physical challenge. They play a physical brand of football and you have to get physical with them. You have to be in the right spot, you have to have great hand placement, you have to play with very good fundamentals in alignment and be gap sound, but the main thing you have to be is physical against them. You have to attack. The offense, the game, the sestting, the meaning of the game, their style all leads to a physical encounter. Get ready for it. We know we have to match that physicality, but we know we can't be out of control. There has to be a fine line. You have to play on the edge, almost out of controlled."

While Mississippi State's offense is built around coming right at defenses, they can mix things up, said J.T.

"They can spread you out too. With the quarterback (Wesley Carroll) they have now, who is a young kid who is getting more and more comfortable each week; their big receivers; and the way they use their players in multiple ways, like LSU, they present a lot of problems," said John. "Both their backs run hard, their tight ends are competent and their wide receivers are weapons when they get you packed in trying to stop their run and get you in one-on-one situations."

Carroll was on the verge of setting a national record for passes without an interception two weeks ago, but since he has thrown five.

"I hope that trend continues," Thompson smiled. "We need some tunovers. We have to get some. What we will have to do is get pressure. When you do, there is a greater chance of getting picks. The ones we have had this year have all been when we have pressured the quarterback. That will be our charge Friday when we face off."

State's bruising tailback, Anthony Dixon, reminds Thompson of some former MSU backs who were physical by nature and style.

"I hadn't really thought about it, but he's a lot like Donte Walker, Dicenzo Miller, James Johnson. They all ran hard and were tough. Anthony is a load and he runs with a rage and a meanness. He looks like he is mad at the world when he is running," J.T. added.

To combat the physical nature of MSU's offense, J.T. said it will have to start up front, as usual.

"The DL had their best game of the year against a real, real good OL last Saturday," he continued. "They will have to continue along those lines against the Bulldogs because they will certainly be challenged.

"The secondary also did a very good job against their receivers by not giving up the big play versus some tremendous receivers. That will have to continue as well against Mississippi State."

On the flip side, Thompson was not pleased with the play of the Reb linebackers.

"I was not pleased at all. We have to make more plays at the linebacker slots. Your DL sets the stage for your fundamentals. Your secondary seets the stage for not giving up touchdowns," he explained. "Your linebackers set the tempo for your defense. We need them setting the tempo and making plays. We made tackles, but they were down the field.

"They have to be, as a group, more of a factor. That is the nature of the position - to set the tempo and to make some plays. That will be major in this game. It can be a big hit or stuffing a play at the line - make an impact."

Thompson knows what is in store for the Rebel defense Friday. A physical - there's that word again - battle until the end.

"There's never any reason to hold anything back, but this is the last game of the year, a game we need to win. To do that, we have to get after Mississippi State for 60 minutes because I can promise you, they will be trying to get after us," he closed.

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