Two teams with similar records clash on Saturday as the 3-3 Texas A&M Aggies travel to Oxford to face the 3-4 Ole Miss Rebels in a game both will think they have a chance to win.
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
The defense has to be better
The defense was actually pretty good for three of the four quarters in the Mizzou game. The problem was that a third quarter explosion by the home side saw them score 23 points in the 15 minute spell, giving them a 35-14 lead that the Rebels never looked like running down.
Mizzou QB Kelly Bryant is a special player, but the Rebels aren’t going to win games if they let a team pass for 329 yards and rush for 196 in the same game. Taking one option away against another athletic quarterback in Kellen Mond has to be a priority to make the Aggies one dimensional on offense.
Keep running the ball
The Ole Miss offense is one dimension in a different way than it has been in recent years. The Rebels pass for 208.3 yards per game (92nd in the country) while rushing for 230 yards per game (19th in the country). That is obviously not an ideal situation, but it is where the team is, especially when John Rhys Plumlee enters the game at quarterback.
Plumlee is a spark and he is too good not to play. His passing needs plenty of work, but the extra dimension he provides on the ground opens up lanes for both himself and the Ole Miss running backs to move the ball. Establishing the run will be important on Saturday.
The Aggies allowed an astonishing 311 return yards on special teams in their 47-28 loss to Alabama last time out. These yards helped the Crimson Tide flip the field on their hosts time and time again, resulting in the scores that eventually led to their win.
The Rebels are talented on special teams and have to make that area of the game important this week. Ole Miss is 22nd in the country and averaged almost 25 yards per kickoff return. Popping one for a score on Saturday would be massive.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 6:30 pm. Watch on the SEC Network.