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The Rebel RoundUp: Ole Miss hosts South Carolina on Military Appreciation Day

The Rebel RoundUp: Ole Miss hosts South Carolina on Military Appreciation Day

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin looks to do something we haven’t seen in Oxford since November of 2015… coach the Rebels to consecutive SEC wins. How big is that feat? Well, the last time Ole Miss won back-to-back league games, Chad Kelly was at QB, Hugh Freeze was the coach and Ole Miss finished the season 10-3 with with five wins over top-25 opponents, including a Sugar Bowl victory.

Chad Kelly, named MVP of the Sugar Bowl, celebrates the win with WR Laquon Treadwell. (Photo credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)

The latest chance to win two conference games in a row comes after the Rebels’ trip to the Music City two weeks ago where Matt Corral put his name in the record books as a part of a 54-21 win over Vanderbilt. His performance earned him SEC Offensive Player of the Week, Davey O’Brien National QB of the Week, and Walter Camp Foundation Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Corral tossed for 412 yards and 6 touchdowns, with 238 of those yards going to QB1’s favorite target, Elijah Moore.

For the contest, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and Kiffin’s offense totaled 641 yards, marking the third time this season they have reached the 600+ total-yard mark.

Heading into this Saturday’s game, Ole Miss now ranks in the Top-3 for eleven separate categories in the SEC including:

  • Total Offense/Game (541.0)
  • Rushing Offense/Game (215.7)
  • Scoring Offense/Game (38.0)
  • Completion Percentage (.716)
  • First Downs (169)
  • Passing Efficiency (179.2)
  • Fumbles Recovered (5)
  • Third Down Conversion % (15.24)
  • Passing yards per completion (14.04)

The Gamecocks (2-4) have wins over Vanderbilt and Auburn and are looking to help solidify the offense with continued improvement under new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. USC has found success in the ground game via tailback Kevin Harris who has been a budding star in his sophomore season. Head Coach Will Muschamp’s squad comes to Oxford after a disappointing 48-3 loss to Texas A&M where the Gamecocks played three QBs and struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm.

South Carolina at Ole Miss Game Details

  • Matchup: South Carolina (2-4) at Ole Miss (2-4)
  • Kickoff: 6:30 PM CT
  • Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium – Oxford, MS
  • TV: SEC Network
  • Line:
    • O/U: 70.5
    • Ole Miss: -12

Series History and Side Notes

Saturday’s matchup will be the seventeenth all time with the series being split at 8 wins for each school. The last contest between the two came in 2018 as the Gamecocks emerged victorious in a 48-44 in shootout where both squads threw for over 375 yards and Elijah Moore tallied 11 receptions for 129 yards. The Rebels are 3-3 vs. South Carolina in Oxford.

The big connection in this game comes from coaching trees, as both Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp served under current Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Muschamp was a defensive coordinator and associate head coach under Saban during Saban’s LSU and Miami Dolphins tenure. Kiffin served as an offensive coordinator under Saban from 2014-2016. The other big connection to know comes from current Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin who served under Will Muschamp at Florida as both a DC and LB coach. Another interesting connection comes in the form of South Carolina’s Director Strength and Conditioning, Paul Jackson. His name will sound pretty familiar to Rebels he served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Ole Miss from 2012-2019.

South Carolina Preview

It was no secret that Will Muschamp was under pressure after going from winning nine games in 2017 all the way down to only winning four last year. Following last season, there were some who thought Muschamp wouldn’t remain the coach; however, the administration felt otherwise. That being said, the heat may certainly be on and even Muschamp acknowledges it saying โ€œYou know what? Thereโ€™s more pressure internally than there is externally, I can assure you of that.”

A lot of changes were made to the Gamecocks’ coaching staff this season, including the addition of former Colorado State coach Mike Bobo who brought in graduate transfer QB Collin Hill to push sophomore Ryan Hilinski.

On the defensive side, coordinator Travaris Robinson was retained to assist Muschamp on the defense as the Gamecocks have had success there in the past, most notably in 2017 when they led the SEC in turnovers forced.ย  This year, however, the defense has not been as successful; heading into this week, South Carolina has been giving up 423.8 YPG.

Overall, the roster is young but needs to deliver if Coach Muschamp wants to remain the coach after this season.

South Carolina Offense

Quarterback

Many expected sophomore Ryan Hilinski to have the job this season after his stint as a starter in his freshman campaign, but Collin Hill came in and fit well with Mike Bobo after their time at Colorado State together. Hill won the job and has been the main man for the Gamecocks this season–until last week’s loss to Texas A&M where Hill was benched and both Hilinski and freshman Luke Doty saw playing time.

In practice this week, the job was officially opened up but according to Mike Uva of WACH FOX in Columbia, it will be Hill who gets the starting nod Saturday night, but that doesn’t rule out a possibility of seeing any of the three QBs.

Collin Hill is the QB who best knows what Bobo is trying to accomplish in this system, so its understandable that he is likely to play the most — especially with the COVID-altered pre-season. But Hill is going to need to be better to stay on the field.

Hilinski has the look of a solid QB and had many good moments as a freshman. He has a frame and an arm to make throws all over the field and good acumen at scanning the field. As a freshman, Doty has wowed in practice with his ability to extend plays with his 4.6 speed.

Running Back

For his scheme to work, Bobo is going to try and establish the run. When he coached at UGA, he had plenty of players with which to spread the ball around, while at Colorado State he preferred bruising style backs. Currently, he is using sophomore Kevin Harris as the feature back, and Harris is already averaging 5.4 YPC with 574 yards. He is a physical back but watch out because he also has some serious burst for a guy with his size.

The running back depth chart hasn’t changed over the course of the year, so expect Harris to get a bulk of the carries and look for Deshaun Fenwick to be a part of the plan as a potential pass catcher out of the backfield. Another name to be on the lookout for is Zaquandre White. He has gotten a few carries on the year but is averaging 4.8 YPC as well.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

The wideouts have been interesting for SC as the main target has been Shi Smith who has caught 43 passes on the year already. That’s 28 more than anyone else on the Gamecock roster.

Smith can be a big play waiting to happen as he is an absolute burner with his speed. It was rumored that he ran in the 4.2s in high school; however, he is more likely in the 4.35-4.4 range….which is still blazing. If Ole Miss can find a way to contain him, the Rebels could be in good shape against the Gamecocks’ air attack. Look for Bobo to get Smith involved in many different ways, including screens and even on sweeps or out of the backfield.

The other starting receivers are sophomore Xavier Leggette and junior Josh Vann. They both have a combined 13 catches on the season. Tight end Nick Muse has been a big target with his 6-foot-four inch, 250-pound frame.

Offensive Line

Two established names on the line come from the Guard positions as Sadarius Hutcherson and Jovaughn Gwyn. The tackle positions could be up in the air as Jakai Moore is likely to find a way onto the field after drawing praise from Muschamp in press conferences this week. We could see Moore, Vershon Lee or Dylan Wonnum at a tackle spot as all of them have started at right tackle already this season. On the left side of the line at the tackle we have seen two starters in Wonnum and Jazston Turntine. Vinnie Moore is also a name to know. Eric Douglas is likely going to be the starter at Center.

South Carolina Defense

Defensive Line

South Carolina lost a big presence in Javon Kinlaw. Last year, Kinlaw manned down the tackle position and was joined in an impressive season by Aaron Sterling at defensive end. This year, Sterling has battled knee issues but is expected to be ready to go and could be an x-factor in the game. To show you how important he can be, here he is throwing down a Kentucky tackle (and UK’s line is very good). Eyes should be on #15.

Keir Thomas is a redshirt senior who has had to step up, not only in place of Kinlaw but also with injuries to the team. He has been impressive with 3.0 sacks on the season. Zacch Pickens and Jabari Ellis are also going to see snaps on the interior as well.

Linebacker

At the Buck position is Kingsley Enagarbe. He is the hybrid linebacker/defensive end with the athleticism and a knack for getting to the QB. He leads the team in sacks this season with 4.0. Enagarbe has great instincts and could be someone to watch on Saturday.

Playing the Mike position, Ernest Jones is the unquestioned leader of the linebacking corps. He has been all over the field this season and leads the squad in tackles with 60 through 6 games after tallying 97 a year ago. The WILL or WLB will be Damani Staley Jr. and the other linebacker to round out the group should be Brad Johnson.

Defensive Backs

The corners are both two really good players in Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu. Both have notched a couple of interceptions this season already. Mukuamu was a second team All-SEC selection last season, and Horn has emerged as a potential first-round draft choice, making this an interesting matchup to monitor for the Ole Miss receivers. John Dixon will also see some action.

Seeing who takes on Elijah Moore will be fun to watch.

In the secondary we have Jammie Robinson who earned Freshman All-SEC last season. He could also play nickel corner. Shiloh Sanders and RJ Broderick could be in the secondary as well.

South Carolina Special Teams

Kicking/Special Teams

Parker White is the kicker for the Gamecocks and is perfect on all 17 PATs this season. He is hitting 8/13 FGs, good for a 61% clip. The senior now has over three years of experience with two seasons over 80% on FGA. The punter is Kai Kroeger who is averaging 42.3 yards per punt. Shi Smith is the primary kick returner and Jammie Robinson is the punt returner. Robinson has been pretty contained on the season. Smith, as noted earlier, has some serious speed to worry about it.

Wrap-Up

There you have it, Rebs! Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on Military Appreciation Day at the Vaught.

Hotty Toddy!

About The Author

TJ Oxley

TJ Oxley is a current MBA student at Ole Miss after having earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo. He currently covers college hoops and the NBA Draft for the Basketball Society as well as all things Ole Miss for The Rebel Walk.

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