Four Keys to an Ole Miss win over Auburn
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss hosts Auburn for an 11:00 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway. The undefeated Rebels (6-0, 2-0 SEC) are looking to move to 7-0 for the just the second time since 1962.
Here are our four keys to an Ole Miss victory:
Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford has played, in some capacity, in all six of Auburn’s games this season. He has started three of those.
Ashford has completed 48% of his passes this season, and when he is pressured, that number goes even lower — dropping to a 22.6% completion. Ashford is a scrambler who tries to flee the pocket under pressure — which he has found himself on 34.2% of his drop-backs,
The Auburn QB is a threat to get loose when a play breaks down, but he is also prone to turning the ball over on those occasions as he has tallied seven fumbles on the season.
Getting pressure on Ashford will be key to the outcome of the game. If Ole Miss can get after him and force him into tough situations, the Rebs increase the chances of Ashford crumbling by potentially forcing errant passes or fumbling.
Win Up Front
Auburn edge rusher Derrick Hall and defensive tackle Colby Wooden have combined for seven of the Tigers’ 12 sacks this season. Both have over 20 quarterback pressures this season and will look to get to Ole Miss signal-caller Jaxson Dart as often as possible.
The Rebel defense is third in the SEC in sacks per game, averaging 2.67. Conversely, the Ole Miss offensive line is giving up the fewest sacks in the conference — the unit has only given up two sacks this season, an average of .33 per game.
Auburn, on the other hand, has given up 15 sacks thus far, an average of 2.5 per game — ranking them 12th in the league.
All that being said, in last week’s game against Vanderbilt the Ole Miss rushing attack saw its lowest number of yards rushing all season, against the SEC’s worst defense. This week, against a better defense, it will be important to create openings for the running backs who have the ability to pop off big runs. As in any SEC contest, ultimately if Ole Miss can win the battle up front, both o-line and d-line, it will should result in a Rebel victory.
Often, it’s the team that makes the least mistakes that wins a game. Whether it be missed tackles, interceptions, fumbles or costly penalties, Ole Miss will need to do the most it can to stay disciplined. The Rebels are averaging 54.5 yards per game in penalties, ranking them seventh in the league.
Last week, Lane Kiffin expressed some disapproval of the defenses’ tackling against Vanderbilt. This week against an Auburn team that has an exceptional running back in Tank Bigsby, tackling will be important as he is a very physical runner.
Jaxson Dart has had some really good moments and also a few interceptions this season. He’s visibly maturing in each game and his continued growth will need to be evident against a solid Auburn defense. Limit mistakes, you will most likely win. Easy as that.
Home Field Advantage
Rebel Nation showed up and showed out last home game against Kentucky. The Wildcats had penalties late in the game that hindered their comeback, and Coach Kiffin attributed that to the loud Ole Miss crowd.
Just like players feed off each other’s energy, they also feed off the energy of the crowd. With a loud environment, teams often have to resort to a silent cadence which can throw an offense out of whack causing false starts, miscommunication, and bad timing between a center and quarterback to name just a few.
With a chance to move to 7-0 on the season and pick up another important conference win, the Rebels need their fans to arrive early, stay late, and be loud!!!
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss alum with a degree in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.