BLOG — Ole Miss’ schedule will stiffen quite a bit when the Rebels welcome No. 8 Missouri to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium this Saturday night (6:45 p.m., ESPN).
Since upsetting then-No. 6 LSU on Oct. 19, the 24th-ranked Rebels (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC) have sandwiched a pair of non-conference cupcakes around a victory over lowly Arkansas. But things won’t be nearly as easy when the SEC East-leading Tigers (9-1, 5-1) bring their high-powered offense to Oxford.
But Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said his team is relishing the step up in competition against one of the nation’s elite teams.
“We’re going to enjoy the preparation for it and hopefully elevate our kids’ focus for a great task that’s at hand against what I consider to be one of the most well-rounded teams that we’ve faced,” Freeze said Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference at the Manning Center. “There’s just really no weaknesses in this Missouri squad.”
Missouri’s offense, which ranks second in the SEC with 41.3 points per game, features one of the biggest collection of receivers in the country. The Tigers’ top three receivers, headlined by 6-foot-6 sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham, are all 6-4 or taller.
“That’s a physics problem that we can’t solve. It’s a concern for sure because there’s times where their guys are just more able to make a play on the ball than maybe some DBs that they’ve faced,” said Freeze, whose roster doesn’t feature any cornerback taller than 6-3. “That is of great concern and something that we’ve got to try to figure out what the best answers are when those cases arise.”
Missouri will also have its senior quarterback, James Franklin, back throwing to them. Franklin had thrown for more than 1,500 yards before suffering a shoulder sprain against Georgia on Oct. 12. After returning for limited reps in last week’s 48-17 win over Kentucky, Franklin is expected to start against the Rebels.
But Freeze said he doesn’t expect Missouri’s attack to change regardless if it’s Franklin or backup Maty Mauk, who’s thrown for most of his 951 yards and 10 TDs in Franklin’ absence, taking the snaps.
“They’re going to be who they are,” he said. “They’ve done the exact same things with (Mauk) that they do with (Franklin). It’s not like you’re preparing for two different schemes, so they have confidence in both of them and have good reason to.”
Freeze also talked about Missouri’s talented defensive front featuring the SEC’s sack leader in end Michael Sam (10 sacks), the gradual improvement of the Rebels’ offensive line and getting the support of the home crowd among other things.
Below is a brief clip of Freeze’s meeting with the media.
One of Ole Miss’ starting CBs, junior Senquez Golson, also talked about the challenge of dealing with Missouri’s size out wide. Video of Golson, who compared the matchup to another SEC receiver the Rebels have already faced this season, is below.
See Tuesday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Freeze’s presser. (November 18, 2013)