How Vandy Can Win vs. Ole Miss

Ole Miss did not run the ball well against Memphis, but with their offensive line, they should do better than they did in their first game. Remember, they have had 12 days to prepare for this game. Even though Vandy is 2-0, they are giving up more than 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. The defense needs to play more like they did in the second half last week, and I think they will continue to play well this week.

The defensive gameplan I would suggest is to stack the linebackers and stunt against The Rebel offensive line about one out of every three or four plays. Rush only four most of the time, but make The Rebel quarterbacks and blockers have to guess which four are coming. If Osemwegie and Joyce stunt inside, then Harrison and Booker can cover the short zones. In regular rush situations, I look for Harrison to get into the Rebel backfield and come up with at least one sack. I would vary the pass defense to some extent, rushing 7 on some plays and playing a nickel or dime on others. With a new offense still in the learning stages, force the Rebels into mistakes and score a touchdown (or set up a score) with the defense. If this happens (or if we can get a punt block or long punt return), it's 3-0 for sure.

I don't think the Rebel defenders can totally shut down our offense. Just keep the same gameplan as the first two games. Throw the ball 55-60% of the time and let it set up the run or use the run to pick up some power yardage. It will be important to complete a ton of short passes on first down to set up 2nd and short. Five yards and a cloud of smoke is the new three yards and a cloud of dust. Get Davis, White, and Dunning the ball between the second and third wall of defenders and let them get some yards after the catch. Just when the Ole Miss secondary begins to creep up, sting them with a deep ball, especially to Bennett. I'd throw maybe five long bombs in this game to loosen the Ole Miss defense. That will give Jennings and Jackson-Garrison a fair chance to do some damage. Maybe run wide and quick with Jackson-Garrison and quick openers inside with Jennings on 2nd and 10 situations.

Once our backs have any success, use the play-action pass and throw intermediate routes trying to get 15-20 yard completions.

One thing I wouldn't do is run the option. There's no way I would risk Cutler getting clobbered, especially on a play he doesn't carry the ball. If you want him to run, let him have a run-pass option on the perimeter with a pulling blocker leading the way (like Andy Johnson did so well for Georgia and Archie Manning did for Ole Miss). Cutler should have another 300 total yard game this week; I would rather it be all through the air except for scrambles that end up out of bounds without a hit.

If Vandy is going to win this game, the offense needs to run for four yards per carry on about 30-35 attempts and pass the ball 40 times for 320 yards. The Rebel secondary can be exploited.

If Vandy receives the opening kick off and it is returnable, I'd love to see some sort of razzle-dazzle play used, like the throwback from "The Music City Miracle." Make Ole Miss think they are in for a lot of trickery to keep them wondering what might happen next. At the beginning of the game, it has a huge effect on an opponent to be hit with a successful trick. Just a 40-yard return is enough to do the job.

One play I would suggest from my past coaching years is a little play-action screen pass that would allow our back (probably best used with Jackson-Garrison's better speed) to get past the LOS with two blockers. The pass routes clear the area both vertically and horizontally. Defenses tend to ignore a back that has just received a fake handoff from the QB. The play, as shown below would have Cutler faking to Jackson-Garrison and then dropping back and hitting him with a quick screen. This play is similar to one used by Green Bay during the Lombardi years. It frequently broke for long gains.

One more tactic can surely help the Commodores win. How about a raucous black and gold crowd yelling too loudly for Ole Miss to hear their audibles. Replicate Memorial Gym when the opponent is at the foul line with the game tied with 10 seconds to go.


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