Three Keys Vanderbilt vs Ole Miss

One of the great things about playing in the SEC is that by and large redemption is only ever a week away. Yes, the ‘Dores were flat out terrible last week in their loss to Temple, but an upset win over 15th ranked Mississippi would take those blues away in a heartbeat.

Given the extenuating circumstances surrounding the game against the Owls it almost feels like Vandy should be treating this as their home opener. The stands will be packed with fans clad in black and gold and the traditional Saturday stat time could be just what Vandy needs to get the season back on track in a hurry.

1) Keeping the quarterback upright

Derek Mason may have said during his weekly radio show on Monday that he was not going to name a starter this week. This is probably a smart move as it keeps Ole Miss from being able to prepare for a certain player and also lessens the pressure on whoever is given the ball on Saturday afternoon. No matter who gets the starting nod, however, the onus is going to be on the offensive line to do a much better job than they did against Temple. This is going to be no easy task, especially given the job in class when facing a menacing Rebels front seven.

Last week the Mississippi defense did their very best impression of an immovable object, keeping Boise State’s once high powered offense in check until the Rebels own offense finally got going. As a team they totaled three sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and countless quarterback hurries and hits. The whole Bronco offense was disrupted as there was no time for plays to develop and even quick hitting screens and swing passes were ineffective due to the level of pressure generated up front.

Hopefully the Vanderbilt offensive line got coached up in a hurry. If not it is going to be a very long day for Stephen Rivers/Patton Robinette/Johnathan McCrary.

2) Eliminate the turnovers

Before writing this I undertook a cursory search to see how many times I could find a winning team who had committed seven turnovers in a game. The only result I could find (outside of a game which took place during the NFL players strike in 1987) was when the Tennessee Titans beat the Cleveland Browns 24-10 in 2000 despite losing the turnover battle 7-1. Obviously this means two things:

1 – It is nigh on impossible to win when committing seven turnovers.

2 – Your only chance of doing so is if your opponent is the Browns.

Seeing as the ‘Dores do not play the Browns this week it is safe to say that they had better find a way to protect the ball. The weird thing about the turnoverfest last week was that the turnovers came in so many different ways. There were interceptions from different quarterbacks, muffed punts, fumbles that shouldn’t have been credited as such, and fumbles that definitely were. If ball security and making smart decisions on the field was not the mantra of head coach Derek Mason this week then I don’t know what would have been. The ‘Dores HAVE to play a cleaner game against a better opponent if they are to have any chance of pulling the upset.

3) Stop Bo Wallace’s second half surge

Bo Wallace has this weird deal where he starts games with no skill and then evolves over half time into the second coming of Peyton Manning. It happened last time the Rebels took on the ‘Dores and it happened again last week when Mississippi took on Boise State. His first half line last week would have had him pulled if he was not so established as a starter. He threw for a decent number of yards (148), but he only led the Rebels to seven points, and had three big interceptions, against a team they were supposed to be dominating.

Then half time happened.

After the break Wallace simply torched the Broncos. He threw for 239 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a fourth quarter passer rating of 437.1. Who even knew passer ratings went that high?

The key here is going to be keeping up the pressure on Wallace. He is as healthy as he has ever been during his time at Mississippi and that makes him very dangerous. With the expectation though comes a desire to press and that is where the ‘Dores can take advantage. If the defensive line can get enough pressure on Wallace he will attempt to make throws he shouldn’t. This happened against the Broncos and it will against Vanderbilt. Taking advantage of these mistakes will be vital to the outcome of the game. Top Stories