OLE MISS PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: OLE MISS
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is 29th nationally and fourth in the SEC in passing offense (302 ypg). Last week against Austin Peay, Commodore quarterback Johnny McCrary completed 28-of-33 passes for 368 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. McCrary's favorite target wasTrent Sherfield who set a school record with 240 receiving yards on 16 catches including one for a touchdown. Sherfield leads the SEC in receptions with 21. Running back Ralph Webb is the second leading receiver for the Commodores with 13 catches. All-SEC tight end Steven Scheu is expected to return to play this week after missing a game due to an injury. Vanderbilt blockers give up an average of two sacks per game.
VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE
The Rebels run a 4-3 defensive set and give up an average of 20 points per game. Ole Miss is 59th nationally and ninth in the SEC in passing yards allowed (205 ypg). Free safety Trae Elston leads the Rebs with three interceptions. Middle linebacker C.J. Johnson has two picks. Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who was the nation's No. 1 recruit coming out of high school, has 1/2 sack this season. The Rebels have had three total sacks in the first three games.
OLE MISS RUSHING DEFENSE
EDGE: OLE MISS
REMARKS: Vanderbilt is 100th nationally and 13th in the SEC in rushing offense (140 ypg). In the win over APSU Vanderbilt gained 147 yards on 26 attempts (4.2 ypc) and scored four rushing TDs. Ralph Webb ran 15 times for 54 yards (3.6 ypc) and scored two TDs on the ground. Dallas Rivers is a big, hard runner who left injured Governors on the field after three of his 12 carries last week. Vanderbilt's offensive line is still a work in progress. What was expected to be a team strength has turned out to be a weakness, at least in the run game. In the first half last week Vandy was stuffed running up the middle on fourth-and 1 by the FCS Govs.
Ole Miss is tenth in the SEC and 75th in the nation at stopping the run allowing 164.7 yards per game. "Stinger" linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche leads the Rebels in tackles with 11 including 3 1/2 for losses. Last week at Alabama the Rebels allowed 215 yards on 42 carries, and two touchdowns to the Tide.
OLE MISS PASSING OFFENSE
VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
EDGE: OLE MISS
REMARKS: The Rebels have a prolific passing attack, leading the SEC and ranking tenth nationally in passing yards per game (352.3). Chad Kelly, a transfer from Mississippi Community College who previously played at Clemson, leads the Ole Miss offense. He's the nephew of former longtime Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. So far this season Kelly has completed 64 percent of his passes (47-of-73) for 898 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception.Laquon Treadwell (14 catches), Cody Core (12 catches) and slot Quincy Adeboyejo (10 catches) are the Rebels top receivers. Most Commodore fans will remember Treadwell from the 2013 matchup in Nashville when he caught nine passes in his Ole Miss debut to lead the Rebs to a close victory. Ole Miss blockers allow an average of one sack per game.
Vanderbilt's passing defense is solid. The Commodores, who run a 3-4 defensive alignment, are second in the SEC and 23rd nationally in passing yards allowed (153.3). Last week Vandy's defense limited Austin Peay quarterback Trey Taylor to just 110 yards passing. Earlier in the season, Vandy limited Western Kentucky's highly touted quarterback Brandon Doughty to just 209 yards. Vanderbilt safety Oren Burks leads the Commodores in passes broken up with 4. Cornerback Taurean Ferguson has a pair of breakups. Vandy has six different players with one sack.
VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
REMARKS: Ole Miss is 38th nationally and sixth in the SEC in rushing offense (215 ypg). The Rebels run on just over 50 percent of their plays. Senior Jaylen Walton is the Rebels starting running back. Last week in the big win over Alabama Walton gained just 33 yards on 12 rushing attempts. Second string running back Jordan Wilkins picked up 39 yards in seven carries against the Tide and scored a touchdown. Senior 6-foot-5, 305 left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a preseason coach’s first team All-SEC selection, leads the Rebel offensive line. Tunsil did not play versus Alabama but is listed as a starter on the Ole Miss depth chart this week.
Vanderbilt head coach/defensive coordinator Derek Mason has a "stop the run first" defensive philosophy. The Commodores are 36th nationally and seventh in the SEC at stopping the run (117 ypg.). Last week Vanderbilt limited the Governors to just 34 rushing yards on 30 attempts (1.1 ypc). Starting Peay running back Kendall Morris had just four yards on four attempts. Safety Oren Burks is Vandy's top tackler with 16 stops. Linebacker Darreon Herring is a ball hawk and has 14 stops, second on the team. Cornerback Ryan White leads the team in tackles for loss with 2 1/2 for nine yards.
EDGE: OLE MISS
REMARKS: Against Austin Peay Vandy kicker/punter Tommy Openshaw had just one punt but it went 66 yards. Openshaw averages 46 yards per punt for the season and has had four downed inside the 20-yard line. For the season, Openshaw is a much better kicker than his 6-of-9 kicks tally would indicate. One missed field goal was the result of a poor hold, another hit the crossbar, a third was a 50-yard attempt against the wind that was just short. Vandy has lost two fumbles this season due to errors by the punt return teams. The Commodore coverage teams allowed a 77-yard punt return for a TD against Georgia. Overall, Vanderbilt's special teams have been a big liability for the team.
Ole Miss kicker Gary Wunderlich has connected on all four of his field goals this season. His longest spanned 45 yards. Punter Will Gleeson has eight punts on the season for an average of 40.6 yards and a long of 49 yards. Jaylen Walton has five kickoff returns for an 18.6 YPR average and a long of 29 yards. Punt return man Carlos Davis had a 58-yard return against UT-Martin.
EDGE: OLE MISS
REMARKS: Derek Mason is in his second season at Vanderbilt with a 4-11 overall record. Prior to Vanderbilt Mason was a successful defensive coordinator at Stanford. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.
Hugh Freeze, one of the nation's top head coaches, is in his fifth season at Ole Miss. He previously coached at Lambuth and Arkansas State prior to Ole Miss and has a 57-22 career record. He's 27-15 at Ole Miss. He was selected the Grant Teaff Coach of the Year in 2013 and the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2011.
REMARKS: Ole Miss has a very good home field advantage but will likely be flat for Vanderbilt after an inspiring, championship like win at Alabama. Vandy is second in the conference in third down conversion defense (0.231). The Commodores are 124th out of 127 teams in turnover margin (-2.33). The 'Dores got a good dose of success medicine after their lopsided win over Austin Peay. Ole Miss leads the long series 49-38-2 and has won the past two including last year's 41-3 stinker. Vandy had won 5 out of 6 previous games prior to the Rebel's 2-game winning streak.
PREDICTION: Ole Miss 34, Vanderbilt 16. The Commodores will play a tight game early but the Rebels will pull away late and seal their fourth victory.