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2021 Countdown Q&A, Week 1 - Ole Miss

California v Mississippi Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Another year, another excuse for me to spew some ridiculousness all over the site as I once again reach out to the various sites that cover the Cards weekly opponent and try and scrape all the useful information I can gather from them and put it right here for your viewing pleasure. This week I hooked up with ‘Red Cup Rebellion’ to find out why Lane Kiffin is the way he is and why they have a shark as a mascot. My guy ‘One Man To Beat’ helped me find all the answers...

1. When most Louisville fans think ‘Ole Miss’ their thoughts may gravitate toward Eli Manning, or maybe the “pee pee” incident from a couple years back, but the casual fan thinks one thing...Lane Kiffin. It was a splash hire for sure with one of the most well-known characters in the sport. A few seasons in with Kiffin, what’s your take on the job Lane has done and more importantly, why is he not talking trash to Louisville?!? That was something I was looking forward to this summer.

First off, when you gotta peepee, always... ALWAYS... do it in a rivals endzone and make them fill their diapers on social media for the rest of the weekend.

Kiffin has morphed into more of a subtle trash talk guy in my opinion since he’s arrived in Oxford. His pettiness level gets the staff at Red Cup a little too excited sometimes on the Twitters though. Scoot Silverfield (isn’t this his name?) at Louisville seems like a nice guy/coach possibly, and maybe things got a little loose in his second season but don’t expect him to take any personal shots at us. I think for Kiffin there’s an old guard at Ole Miss that will be hard to win over, because he’s not a regular scratch golfer at the Oxford Country Club and doesn’t check in at the local coffee shops to BS around with them. Ultimately, he’s going to do it his way, and if he wins enough, he’ll get all the resources the alumni can muster to make Ole Miss more of a household name.

2. Most college fans are well aware of Mississippi’s quarterback Matt Corral as he’s a dark house Heisman contender and in the Kiffin offense throws for about [checks notes] 785 yards per game. One area of concern for Matt, which hits very close to home, is ball security as he had 14 interceptions last season. Is it a legit concern with this offense moving forward or just some bad luck last year?

I would say no more of a concern than Malik Cunningham’s ball security, maybe less? Most of those INT’s came in two games, so we just keep repeating that over and over whether we believe it or not and hope it comes true this fall.

3. Speaking of Corral, he’s got a similar issue to Malik Cunningham having to replace NFL talent at the wideout position (Elijah Moore). Who’s gonna fill that void this year as the go-to guy?

NCAA Football: Southern Illinois at Mississippi Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Braylon Sanders is a rising sixth or seventh year senior, it feels like he’s been around forever, who has some promise to get more of the catches. There’s also a lot of focus on RB Jerrion Ealy to get more looks out of the backfield in the passing game. Then there’s converted QB to slot receiver John Rhys Plumlee who will be used all over the field to undoubtedly give defenses a lot of different looks offensively.

It’s tough to put it all on one guy to replace Moore’s production as he set single season reception records last year, so it would be a monumental effort to have a transfer or freshman come in and pick it up like that in my opinion.

4. I’m contractually obligated to ask a question about the defense although that phase of the game isn’t necessarily ”selling the tickets” down in Oxford if you catch my drift. After finishing 2020 in the bottom 10% of the country in ‘yards per game allowed’ and ‘points per game allowed’, what areas do you think they will improve this year?

We have improved in that we learned you’re allowed to have 11 guys on the field for all defensive plays, so that should really help shore things up. Seriously, we were Swiss cheese defensively at times last year, and the edge rushers and secondary have reportedly made some improvements compared to last year. Granted, we as fans are honestly just hoping for a top 80 defense, because our focus is firmly set on what we think could be a record setting offense again this year.

5. I’m a bit of a college football junkie but for the casual fan who may have missed it, what’s the Cliff’s Notes version of the ‘Land Shark’ mascot that was added to the repertoire a few seasons ago?

Ole Miss suspended its use of an on-field mascot (Colonel Reb) because, well, it’s a likeness of a Confederate soldier in the 21st century and probably generally not a great idea anymore. There was a student committee to come up with another option, and this process left fans with a black bear as a mascot for a bit. The Landshark was a moniker of the defense for a time when it was fairly good, and so it came to pass this very unusual looking mascot came to be the official ‘scot of the Rebels. It’s truly a very unusual and very college football history kind of thing.

6. Alright man, we’re sitting less than a week out from kickoff. First game of the season in the books, we’re sitting in Mercedes-Benz Stadium pounding God’s chicken (no, not the ‘Magic City’ wings) on Monday night after the final horn sounds. What happened? Give me a score prediction and how you think this one plays out.

What I think the staff at Red Cup is hoping is somehow our AD convinces your AD to make this game a “Winner gets Dan McDonnell” match. Seriously, I know this last season wasn’t great, but the man is a king and you should celebrate him regularly. I would very much like it if he was our baseball coach.

I really think there are going to be a lot of points scored as the offenses each feature talented QB’s and defenses that leave something to be desired. Absolutely take the money you would normally send in on your mortgage, take it to a casinah, and lay it on the over. If it’s 56-52, I wouldn’t be shocked. I would be shocked if Ole Miss doesn’t somehow pull this game out, however, though I think a lot of Rebel fans are assuming a somewhat easy win. I think the Cards are VERY underrated at sixth in its respective ACC division, and the close losses it had last season show the program isn’t that far off from having a quality bowl season.

But ultimately here’s what I know about Louisville other than the 15 minutes of research I did on Google before answering these questions... I went to a Louisville-Memphis basketball game at the FedEx Forum when Montrezl Harrell was still on the squad. The fans in red and black were loud and proud for sure, but Harrell had a dunk in the game where, according to my eyes (that were affected by eight Bud Lights), he took off from the three point line, hooted and hollered in the air, grabbed the ball, posterized the entire city, and led me to question gravity in the building. But I turned to a UL fan and was like, “damn that was amazing,” and he shrugged and said, “ain’t no thing.” This is my shameless plug for you to host me at a Louisville home basketball game, so I can wear Old English L’s, drink some brews and yell terrible things at ACC opponents. Please and thank you.

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If Louisville beats ‘Ole Miss’ on Monday I’ll bring ‘One Man To Beat’ to a basketball game and we will heckle Boston College all night. Bank on it. In the mean time, go check out ‘Red Cup Rebellion’ and give them a follow on the old twittersphere. Hoping for a close game, an entertaining opening weekend, and if Kiffen throws his clipboard I hope it’s out of frustration instead of jubilation. Go Cards, beat Ole Miss.