Nik's Commodore Keys: Ole Miss

After a stellar start for the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-0, 1-0 SEC), travel down to Oxford Mississippi to take on the Rebels of Ole Miss (2-1, 0-0 SEC) this Saturday. The Commodores are half-way to a coveted bowl and a win against the Rebels would certainly help Vanderbilt's chances. So, what will the Dores have to do in order to beat the Rebels?

Balance Beam

Ole Miss has a very good offense, led by transfer quarterback Jevan Sneed.  Sneed, who has thrown for six touchdowns and 660 yards this season, leads the team, so the Commodore secondary will have to be on their toes.  However, the power on offense does not stop there.  Ole Miss's offensive line is anchored by All-American left tackle Michael Oher.  Their offensive line averages 324 pounds per man, a notable size increase of Vandy's defensive line.  Vanderbilt will have to use their speed on the defensive line to break through and disturb Ole Miss's ground game, led by freshman tailback Brandon Bolden, who has 161 yards on the ground this year.  But, that stat can be misleading, considering that Cordera Edison, a junior, has 118 yards as well.  Vandy must contain these two backs, and the defense must play well.  Everybody on defense must be stellar.  Ole Miss has not allowed a sack this year, and Vanderbilt's defense relies on pressure.  The defensive line must get through a powerful Rebel offensive line in order for Vandy to win this game.

No Mistakes

Vanderbilt cannot afford any mistakes in this game.  Chris Nickson has yet to throw an interception for the Dores, and the Commodore offense has been solid.  Vandy cannot turn the ball over, and special teams mistakes will kill the Commodores.  Thus far, both units have been very good, but will need to be better on Saturday.  Two years ago, Vanderbilt dominated Ole Miss in every statistical category, but it was turnovers that haunted the Dores, as they came home with a 17-10 loss to the Rebels.  Vandy must not commit any stupid penalties or turnovers to win this game.

The Hawk

Jared Hawkins has been very good for the Commodores in the last two games, rushing for 84 yards against South Carolina and for 107 last week against Rice.  Ole Miss has been suspect against the run this year, currently dead last in the Southeastern Conference in rush defense.  However, this is expected to change, seeing as Ole Miss will return several defensive starters who have missed the first three games due to injury.  Hawkins must continue playing at a high level, and Chris Nickson will need to provide some help both with his legs and his arms.  Vanderbilt must have a strong rushing performance, like they have against South Carolina and Rice, in order to beat a much-improved Ole Miss team.


Last meeting: Vanderbilt 31 Ole Miss 17 (2007 in Nashville)
First meeting: Vanderbilt 40 Ole Miss 0
Last meeting in Oxford: Ole Miss 17 Vanderbilt 10
Ole Miss leads series 46-34-2; Series is tied 19-19 in Oxford.


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