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Five Keys to an Ole Miss win over Arkansas

Five Keys to an Ole Miss win over Arkansas

OXFORD, Miss. — Saturday, Ole Miss celebrates homecoming. 

Saturday night, the Rebels should be celebrating a win. 

Well, Ole Miss should be relaxing in The Grove by the late afternoon if the Rebels can accomplish five goals. These keys to the game may seem simple, but against the 12th-ranked Razorbacks, maybe not. If they were, Texas and Texas A&M would have done them. 

TACKLING, PLEASE?

Yes, the Rebels did play the top-ranked team a week ago and lost by 21 points, but if Ole Miss had tackled well, it may have been a different game. Brian Robinson, Jr., ran for 177 yards against the Landsharks, many of those yards after first contact. 

With running back Trelon Smith and quarterback K.J. Jefferson triggering the Arkansas offense, the Rebels cannot afford a sub-par tackling performance. 

Should the Landsharks tackle well, the Ole Miss offense should be able to outscore the Razorbacks. 

RUN THE DANG BALL, BURT!

In The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock’s character implored Michael Oher’s high school coach to go to his team’s rushing attack. Ole Miss would be well served to take that advice. While the Rebels are known mostly for throwing the ball all over the field, Ole Miss is a really good rushing team. Just maybe not last week. 

But this week, the Rebs could take a page out of the Georgia playbook. In Athens, the Bulldogs exploited the Arkansas drop-eight defense by running the ball down the Hogs’ throat. 

The Ole Miss backs could have a big day if the Rebels play conservatively. 

DEPTH

Against Alabama, apart from the starters, only four linebackers saw action against the Crimson Tide. Four reserve linemen and four wide receivers got playing time. 

Ole Miss needs to develop more depth. If the starters play too many snaps, they will not be able to perform late in the game. This is something head coach Lane Kiffin has talked about frequently over the last few weeks. 

Against Arkansas, more offensive linemen, receivers and linebackers need to get more playing time so the Rebels will not fade in the fourth quarter. 

AMNESIA

Ole Miss needs to put the disappointment of the Alabama loss behind. While the Rebels are at it, the memory of last year’s loss at Arkansas should also be history. 

Nothing good going forward can come from looking in the past. 

OLE MISS NEEDS TO BE OLE MISS

After failing on three fourth-down attempts last week, Kiffin was asked about the tendency for the Rebels to forgo punting. Kiffin said, “We believe in our players. It (analytics that say to go for it on fourth down) doesn’t work all the time. When it doesn’t work and you follow the book, it doesn’t look good. But that’s also why it’s analytics and not just doing whatever you want to do.” 

The Rebels should continue doing what the book tells Kiffin they should do.

The Ole Miss offense needs to keep the petal to the metal. Always put pressure on the defense. When the stable of running backs are not battering Arkansas, Matt Corral should be throwing the ball over their heads. 

Let Ole Miss be Ole Miss.

Game Info: 

Ole Miss and Arkansas kick off at 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway. The game will be televised on ESPN.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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