Ole Miss heads to Jordan-Hare Saturday looking to pick up the Rebels’ first SEC win of the season as they face No. 12 Auburn.
The Tigers (4-1, 2-0 SEC) defeated Mississippi State 49-10 last weekend, amassing 511 yards of total offense in the win. Ole Miss, on the other hand, suffered a tough 66-3 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.
In the win over MSU, Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham passed for 264 yards and two TDs, while Kerryon Johnson ran for 116 yards and three scores. Stidham completed a number of deep balls, including a 47-yard TD to a wide-open Will Hastings and a 57-yarder to Eli Stove.
Throughout the game the Tigers’ defense was strong—holding MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald to 13 completions on 33 attempts for 157 yards and 2 interceptions—while the Auburn offense was explosive—notching seven offensive plays of 30-plus yards.
Following the loss to Alabama, Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said he is keeping a watchful eye on his team’s psyche.
“It’s a concern, but you’re always aware because of everything that they’ve been through,” Luke said.
“That’s why we work hard on mental toughness, so when one bad thing happens it doesn’t snowball. You can’t let one bad play affect the whole game. I think the only way you do that is you come together as a team when something bad happens. ‘Hey, it’s going to be alright. We’re going to be fine.’ And you just keep playing.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
Following Wednesday’s practice Coach Luke was asked what the Rebels will do to make sure they avoid at Auburn what occurred in Tuscaloosa.
“You stick to what you believe in, and the only way you fix it is on the practice field. Practice makes permanent. You’ve got to try and recreate the game on the field and keep working. You’ve got to get your confidence back on the field. You’ve got to earn your confidence back,” he said.
“I think you can do that by simplifying your scheme so the kids know exactly what to do, and you just keep working. I think that’s the best way to combat it.”
Coach McGriff’s Auburn ties
Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff knows Auburn as he was was on the Tigers’ staff a year ago and is very familiar with their personnel.
According to Coach Luke, that will be helpful to Ole Miss as it prepares for Saturday’s contest.
“It helps. We’re very similar on defense. Where it helps the most is getting good-on-good looks versus what you’re going to see. Just having a similar scheme helps you in the good-on-good work because you’re getting what you’re going to see in the game.“
Coach Matt Luke
Coach Luke confirmed yesterday that Ole Miss practiced without junior center Sean Rawlings (ankle), sophomore defensive end Qaadir Sheppard (foot) and senior kicker Gary Wunderlich (hamstring) on Wednesday.
Iron-man Rawlings, who is listed as probable for Saturday’s game at Auburn, played all of the game vs. Alabama with a recently surgically-repaired ankle. Rawlings’ surgery followed an injury he suffered in the first half of Ole Miss’ game at Cal.
Sheppard is questionable for Saturday’s game, while Wunderlich will likely be a game-time decision.
In some very good news for the Rebels, Coach Luke reports that sophomore wide receiver A.J. Brown is healthy and good to go Saturday vs. the Tigers.
Ole Miss and Auburn kick off at 11:00 a.m. (CT) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.
(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)