Memphis has averaged 51.67 points per game in its first three games of the 2016 season. And the Tigers’ head coach, Mike Norvell, knows his team will have to put up a lot of points if it wants to keep up with No. 16 Ole Miss.
Memphis preparing to face explosive Ole Miss offense
Memphis’ first-year coach has seen the explosiveness of the Rebels’ offense that is led by senior quarterback Chad Kelly. He knows senior tight end Evan Engram is one of the best in the nation.
Facing the Rebels’ high-powered offense will be the Tigers’ first major test of this season as the Memphis defense has held its opponents to an average of nine points per game, ranking the team fifth in the NCAA.
The Rebels (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) have come out quickly in every game so far, outscoring their opponents 41-6 in the first quarter. Ole Miss is averaging 40 points per game, and is 17-for-18 in red zone attempts.
At Monday’s American Athletic Conference teleconference, Norvell acknowledged the challenge his defense will face against Kelly and the Rebels.
Memphis head coach Mike Norvell
Hostile environment awaits Tigers
Outside of trying to slow down the Rebels’ offense, Norvell is preparing Memphis (3-0) for the hostile environment it will be playing in front of on Saturday evening, as Ole Miss fans will be loud and enthusiastic inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium—especially after losing to the Tigers last season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. That victory snapped Memphis’ six-game losing streak to Ole Miss.
As the matchup against the Rebels gets closer, Norvell has been concentrating on getting his team prepared for raucous crowds.
Mike Norvell on playing Chad Kelly and the Rebels
Norvell wasn’t with Memphis last season when the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit—thanks to Paxton Lynch’s 384 yards and three TD’s through the air—to defeat Ole Miss, 37-24, but he has revisited film of last season’s game to see if he can take notes on how Memphis affected the Rebels’ rhythm.
However, Norvell realizes his team’s style of play will be different due to a lot of new faces on both sides of the football.
“I think you always take a look at past experiences and try to build off of those things,” Norvell said. “We’ve got to go out there and put together a plan that fits our personnel, being able to put our guys in the best situation to have that success.”
Ole Miss and Memphis will kick off at 6:00 p.m. (CT) in Oxford this Saturday. Unfortunately, which television channel shows the game will not be determined until Thursday night. ESPN is broadcasting the World Cup of Hockey Championship Series beginning Tuesday. It is a best-of-three contest, with game two set for Thursday. If a third game is necessary, it will be televised on ESPN and the Rebels and Tigers will be shown on the SEC Network Alternate Channel. However, if the series is decided Thursday in its first two games, Ole Miss and Memphis will air Saturday evening on ESPN2.
(Feature image credit: Joey Brent, The Rebel Walk)