The Rebels take on FCS (formerly Division I-AA) member Samford Saturday at 6 p.m., in Oxford. While Ole Miss should roll thanks to more talent and depth, there are some things to watch for as the game progresses.
Facing an inferior opponent, Saturday is all about Ole Miss. Doing things correctly and at full speed are the important things. Hopefully for Rebel fans, the score won't be a surprise, but several internal items will be addressed.
The following discusses three storylines to look out for.
Shake it off and shake it up
After a difficult 30-28 loss at No. 20 Wake Forest last Saturday, Ole Miss will need to keep the intensity up and not let the stinging still be present. The players have suffered many near misses over the past new seasons, but the Rebels all say this year is different thanks to the new coaching staff and a more tight-knit atmosphere around the program.
Unless the team is lethargic throughout, the outcome shouldn't be a concern, however, it is important for Ole Miss to play vehemently early and jump out to a comfortable advantage. Letting Samford linger will give an inferior opponent confidence and keep the bad taste from being fully erased.
A solid, sound victory will carry over into a positive when Vanderbilt visits for the SEC opener.
Back coming forth?
Houston Nutt plans on playing several running backs each game, but at the same time, the Rebel coach is looking for a "horse" to be the frontrunner. Cordera Eason has started both games, while Brandon Bolden has already received a Freshman of the Week league honor and leads the team rushing.
Enrique Davis has been productive in spot action, while Devin Thomas and Derrick Davis have earned the fewest opportunities. Nutt has been impressed by each back, but he is looking for more as well. Being physical and BYOB – being your own blocker- are the two biggest necessary improvements.
Ample carries should be available this Saturday, so it is important for each back to produce with conference play just a week away. With competition this deep, getting buried on the depth chart is a real possibility.
Success with assignments
Samford may not have the athletes Ole Miss does, but the Rebels still need to play smart and be in the correct places at the right times. A couple mistakes in positioning and tackling cost Ole Miss the game against Wake, so improvement can be made.
Whether it is linebackers dropping into the correct pass coverage or an end staying in his gap, the Rebels need a fundamentally productive outing. It should be a good time to allow Marcus Tillman to regain comfort at defensive end and for the back seven to gain confidence.
The mental part of football makes a considerable difference, thus Saturday is an opportune chance to shore up all situations against a live opponent – while, as previously mentioned, not allowing the Bulldogs to hang around.
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