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Ole Miss ready to challenge the Tigers with balanced offense

Ole Miss ready to challenge the Tigers with balanced offense

In the win over Vanderbilt last weekend, Ole Miss presented a very balanced attack—and if that trend continues, the Rebels will give LSU a lot of trouble Saturday night when the two long-time rivals meet in Oxford.

Jordan Wilkins rushed for 113 yards against Vanderbilt. (Photo credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)

Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2 SEC) finished with 603 total yards of offense in the 57-35 victory over the Commodores, tallying 351 through the air and 252 on the ground.

Sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson completed 22 of 35 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns, while senior running back Jordan Wilkins rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Wilkins’ ability to run all over Vandy bodes well for the Rebels’ chances of exploding for some big gains on the ground against a Tigers defense that’s giving up 144.7 rushing yards per game.

Since losing to Troy at home in week five, LSU (5-2, 2-1) has won two straight SEC games—against Florida and Auburn. In both of those contests, however, the Tigers have given up a combined 383 yards on the ground. Ed Orgeron’s team also allowed 285 yards rushing in its 37-7 week-three loss at Mississippi State.

“Any time somebody gets written off and you can bounce back, that’s really special,” head coach Matt Luke said of the Tigers come-from-behind win over Auburn.

The biggest thing that stands out to me is their third-down production on defense and getting people off the field. Auburn 3 of 14, Florida 2 of 9, that’s a recipe for winning football games. I’ve been impressed at how they’ve rallied.

Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke

Shea Patterson completed 22 of 35 passes for 351 yards and four touchdown in the 57-35 win over Vandy. (Photo credit: Dan Anderson)

As for the Rebels, they have an extra spring in their step this week after a dominating offensive performance against Derek Mason’s Vandy team.

“I think the only difference is we kind of expanded, carried another run or two in each formation just to give us an opportunity to run it,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said at Monday’s press conference, as he reflected on Saturday’s win over the Commodores.

They did a lot to try to take A.J. (Brown) and some of the throws away. It gave us an opportunity to run the ball more, and we did. I think some of the things we were doing put some players in conflict.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo

The Rebels hope there will be plenty of times LSU’s defense will be confused when Shea Patterson and company are on the field. Thus far this season, Longo’s offense is averaging 462.5 yards per game, compared to the Tigers’ 392.71.

Slowing down Derrius Guice

With a talented running back like Derrius Guice, who has rushed for 435 yards and five touchdowns this season, LSU quarterback Danny Etling hasn’t had to do as much through the air. Etling has completed 84 of 142 passes for 1,252 yards, seven scores and one interception.

Chances are the Tigers will go to Guice in a hurry and force the Ole Miss defense to stopping the run.

“The guy is explosive,” defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said of Guice.

He can hit a home run from anywhere on the field. He prides himself on getting a lot of yards after contact, does a tremendous job of catching the ball out of the backfield.

Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff on Derrius Guice

Game info:  

Ole Miss and LSU will kick off at 6:15 p.m. (CT) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. The game will be televised by ESPN.

(Feature image credit: Dan Anderson, The Rebel Walk)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men's basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.

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