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What To Watch For: Ole Miss Rebels

NCAA Football: Louisville at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


Ole Miss is known for their high-powered offense which also leads to people believing they are an air raid offense. That’s not really the case as the Rebels finished last year ranked 6th in rushing attempts per game. They run the ball even if they aren’t all that efficient at it. They also found themselves getting very pass happy in some games last season.

I think that Lane Kiffin will lean heavily on Jerrion Ealy and his deep group of Running Backs to try to get their running game going and I think that Bryan Brown will do all he can to counter that. The Rebels have a group of Receivers who have a lot of experience and not a lot of production. They’re good players but Louisville’s secondary is a strong point and getting Ole Miss in third and long will be a priority. That only happens if you stop the run and Brown knows that.


The Rebel defense wasn’t good last year and that needs to be pointed out. The Rebel defense also has some good talent in the back end that will challenge the young Louisville Receivers. Ole Miss has some real questions at corner but their Safeties are very good players who will make it harder to work the middle of the field like Louisville wants to.

UofL will be looking to force the Rebels into man coverage with their running game and I think Ole Miss will have to give in at some point. That’s usually when UofL starts pushing the ball down the field but I think Ole Miss will be in better shape than expected. Guys like A.J. Finley and Otis Reese have good coverage skills and I think they will hold their own even though they won’t shut down Louisville’s passing game.


This isn’t any real secret but there are times when Lane Kiffin will slow down and look to be more methodical with his playcalling. I think he’ll throw that out the window and just go with pace all game long. louisvlle has struggled with getting calls in on defense for two years now and if I know that, I’m sure kiffin knows it as well.

My expectation is that Kiffin will package some run plays to try to wear down the defense. If Ole Miss doesn’t substitute, Louisville won’t have enough time to sub themselves. That puts UofL at a bigger disadvantage because their depth up front is what should help their defense stop the run. With Kiffin going in hyper-speed, Ole Miss could string together some nice runs and build their offensive drives.


My hot take of the year is that Louisville’s Special Teams will be the key to winning half of their games. Louisville was abysmal in the punting game last season so they went out and got a big Australian kid who should really help them if and when drives stall. The best way to slow down a good offense is to make them go the full field to score. That’s something that the best teams in the country do consistently and I think UofL will be able to do that this year if they avoid turnovers.

The other aspect of course is James Turner and his ability as a kicker. Turner was nearly automatic last year and he spent the off season working on his leg strength. If they get the same guy they had last season, Louisville has to feel good about scoring on most drives.

Jerrion Ealy was one of the best kick returners in the country last year and he is a real concern for a kick coverage unit for Louisville that will likely have some young players on it. Ealy isn’t a guy t hat you track down in the open field so Louisville has to hope that Brock Travelstead can put the ball deep into the endzone or at least put it high enough in the air that the coverage unit can close down the space.