Solid play out of the linebackers
The State running game led by Conerly Trophy finalist Anthony Dixon is a power attack that can dictate tempo against Ole Miss. The Rebel linebackers have to limit the run and keep first down runs from leaving short yardage on the following downs. Freshman quarterback Wesley Carroll has been effective, so the linebackers are also vital in pass defense. Keeping track of the tight ends and backs on pass routes is also imperative.
Match MSU's enthusiasm
Ole Miss was clearly flat versus the Bulldogs in 2005, and Ed Orgeron said earlier this week that visiting Starkville wasn't as "natural" as playing at LSU or Georgia. The statement was taken out of context by most, but even so, Orgeron has to have his troops on full alert Friday. The Bulldogs are playing for a bowl berth and are at home. The Rebels need early points to cancel out the automatic momentum.
Brent Schaeffer to build off last week
The senior made several highlight-reel runs against the Tigers and will be needed to use his feet again in his final game as a Rebel. Schaeffer has always had the ability but has made poor decisions in critical times during most of his action in red and blue. The wide receivers have been a bright spot all season, thus passing with a moving pocket can be effective against State. Cut out the bad choices Ole Miss can keep the Egg and carry momentum into the offseason.
Make more big plays
Ole Miss has the edge in offensive speed and playmakers against the Bulldogs. State is comfortable with ball control, so the Rebels can't do them favors by allowing a slip in coverage and turning average gains into 60-yard game changers. Marshay Green made the play to win in 2006 with a punt return for a touchdown, and the same special teams magic can be an important advantage. Derek Pegues is capable of big returns for the Bulldogs, and the Rebel kick coverage has been suspect at best. Finally playing a full game with the kicking teams will be paramount.
Keys to Victory: The Miss. State Game
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