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Friday, October 31, 2014

LSU, Vanderbilt games are must-see television Saturday for Rebel fans

COLUMN: Bye week? That’s heresy. There’s plenty of football for Ole Miss fans this weekend, specifically two games that any self-respecting Rebel supporter should watch every single snap of.

While upcoming opponent Arkansas is also off this week, be sure to watch these two games, as both hold a ton of scouting for future opponents LSU and Vanderbilt:
Auburn at Vanderbilt

James Franklins’ Commodores are a far cry from the assumed win that Vanderbilt used to represent on the Rebels’ schedule each season. But thanks to an aberration in scheduling due to Texas A&M and Missouri’s arrival, the Commodores and Rebels are facing off after Halloween for the first time since 2001, when the game was postponed because of 9/11. What’s that mean? That always-thin VU will be a lot more banged up than usual when they head to Oxford Nov. 10.

Vandy struggled early against a front-loaded schedule (South Carolina, Northwestern, Georgia, Florida) but Franklin’s ‘Dores win the gimmies and know how to play up to their competition. At 2-4, Vandy could still easily make their second consecutive bowl since polio was cured: they play woeful Auburn, UMass, Kentucky, Ole Miss, a shaky Tennessee team and a currently 3-3 Wake Forest squad.

Ole Miss doesn’t want Vandy fighting for a bowl, and an Auburn win could help.  Be sure to pay attention to the quarterback play, as Jordan Rodgers (brother of Aaron) has been benched already once this season. Despite ranking 5th in the SEC passing yardage, Rodgers has the lowest amount of touchdown passes for a starter in the league with just three, and is only completing 55.2 percent of his passes.

LSU at Texas A&M
Bo Wallace is not Johnny Manziel — at this point, no one is “Johnny Football” except the young man himself. However, Texas A&M represents the first BCS level spread option offense that the LSU defense has seen this season. The Tigers have mainly faced traditional, pro-style and run-first attacks (South Carolina, Florida, Washington) thus far.

Can the Tigers be exposed by a hurry-up tempo? Watch for A&M to push the pace of the game and keep coordinator John Chavis from substituting personnel. LSU will look for Manziel to run, meaning they’ll change assignments for a mobile quarterback, an issue they haven’t faced yet this season. Expect Freeze to be taking notes on how they address that concern.

Then again, the defense hasn’t been problem for the Tigers — it’s a terrible, sputtering offensive effort led by Zach Mettenberger that’s felled LSU’s hopes of another undefeated regular season. The ground game showed promise against South Carolina, but the Rebels have a great shot if Mettenberger can’t become consistent by late November.

(Steven Godfrey can be reached at sgodjr@sbnation.com, or at @38Godfrey at Twitter). (October 18, 2012, Page 9)

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