Ole Miss Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin has never faced a defense coached by South Carolina Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson, but he's very aware of the challenge a Johnson-led group presents.
"On film, South Carolina's defense is very sound," said Austin. "What jumps out at you is they have good size, they play very hard every snap, they don't take any plays off, they run to the football aggressively, they are excellent tacklers and they are performing at a high level that will force us to execute extremely well to have success.
"Coach Johnson is obviously a very good coach. His guys play smart, they don't give up a lot of big plays and you better be very well-prepared."
Austin is still a "rookie" to SEC football and he says it's been a real eye-opener for him.
"It is kind of mind-numbing how good the defenses in this conference are, overall. Every week, it's the same thing - excellent personnel, excellent schemes and defensive units that are very cohesive," Austin said. "That is why we are constantly harping on limiting our mistakes. If you make them in this league, the other team capitalizes, almost every time. The quality of defenses in the SEC makes a lot of games boil down to who makes the least mistakes and that is because of all the quality defensive units."
Errors cost the Rebels the Vandy game. The lack of errors in the second half went a long way in winning the Florida game the following week.
"The only way to understand that is to experience it and the only way to experience it is to play," said Austin. "Some of our key players have not played a lot on this level - our backs, our QB in particular. I think now that they have experienced both sides of the coin - what making mistakes does and what not making them does - they understand the significance.
"Jevan (Snead) is learning the most important thing for him to do is to execute one play at a time and take care of the ball. Playing one play at a time can be difficult sometimes, but he's learning that more and more. He did that in the second half of the Florida game and you saw the difference. When he handles the game like he did in that second half - getting the guys out of the huddle, taking care of his signals and following his rules - he's a pretty good football player. We are working on making him more consistent in those areas."
Austin likes the direction his signal-caller is going in.
"He's very competitive and sometimes that makes him push a little too hard. He has to learn to let the game come to him. That comes with experience. As he continues to mature, he will make better and better decisions."
One of the more fascinating aspects of the Florida game was the Rebel defense using 10 defensive linemen liberally.
That may have surprised the observant fans watching the game, but it did not surprise Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix. It's a trend he expects to continue, as long as it is working.
"We talk about personnel every day and we try to play as many kids as possible. If a kid earns playing time with his practice performances, we will play him," Nix said. "We had an idea we would play just about everyone we took on the trip to Florida.
"Whoever practices the best gets the time. We started Tony Fein and Patrick Trahan at two of the linebacker slots last week because they were more productive in practice. That's how it works around here. You earn you playing time every week in practice."
Nix was the defensive coordinator at South Carolina last year. He is not making a big deal out of that.
"I'm not playing. It does not affect me," he said. "It will be like playing against your brother in basketball. You shake hands when it is over, tell each other how you feel and move on to the next opponent."
That is not to say Nix is not looking forward to matching wits with his former boss, Steve Spurrier, who directs the Gamecocks' offense.
"We will have to be sound and play smart. We have to play with discipline and outstanding effort. They will try to hit you from a lot of different angles and they will try anything at any time," Nix closed.
Both Rebel coordinators are sticking with the basics as their keys to a win and that is likely to be the theme throughout the season.
The team who makes the least mistakes is the likely victor.
Welcome to the SEC.
OM Spirit Top Stories
Spirit's Take: Predicting Ole Miss - AuburnOle Miss hosts Auburn Saturday at 6:15 p.m. The Ole Miss Spirit staff gives their thoughts on the game ahead.
OM SpiritYesterday at 12:30 PM
Who's In the Running for LB Monty Rice?Monty Rice makes a lot of noise on the field with his play at linebacker, but off the field, he likes to stay quiet. The talented linebacker has cut his list of schools, so who…
Scout FootballYesterday at 5:55 AM
Does New Offer Change Things for Burley?Jeffery Burley has been committed to Wake Forest since July, but an offer from an SEC school this week has him re-thinking things. Get the latest on Burley here...
Scout FootballYesterday at 5:40 AM
Freeze Frames: Players Meeting and MoreOle Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Wednesday to preview Auburn, as well as discuss the recent players-only meeting, the development of Charles Wiley and more.
OM SpiritWednesday at 4:21 PM