The Match-Up: This game will be the third
meeting between the ULM and Ole Miss. Ole Miss has won both games in Oxford,
31-3 in the 2002 season opener and 59-14 in the 2003 home opener.
Bowl eligibility. A win puts the Rebels at the six win mark and eligible for a
bowl. With a somewhat vulnerable LSU team up next week and a struggling
Mississippi State team in the regular season finale, Ole Miss needs to get the
momentum started here to win out, which could mean a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
Keys to the Game:
1) Offensive production. While Ole Miss is respectable
in both running and passing, it seems the team seldom gets
both clicking at the same time against an opponent. The
run game has improved over the last few games - it's now time
for the passing game to get on track. 2) Secondary play.
The secondary play remains erratic with the Rebels giving up
284 yards through the air to a struggling Auburn offense and
over 300 yards at Arkansas. It's an area that can keep
any team in a game and one the Rebels need to improve on to
win out. 3) Turnovers. The tale of the turnover
continues to impact the outcome of the game as it most often
has all season. Against Auburn, Ole Miss won the
turnover battle three to none and won the game.
Ole Miss rushing versus the ULM
ground defense: Ole Miss is No. 41 among the 119
Division I teams in rushing offense, entering the game at
almost 170 yards per game. While hotshot newcomers
Enrique Davis and Brandon Bolden were supposed to be carrying
the mail this late in the season, it's been Cordera Eason who has emerged as the Rebels' go to guy. He
notched his first 100-yard rushing game against Auburn and is
reading his blocks and hitting holes much quicker than he was
earlier in the season. Bolden has emerged as his backup
and remains a threat. Dexter McCluster provides
the break away threat and had 84 yards rushing against Auburn.
The Rebels will face a ULM defense that is ranked No. 107 in
defending the run, giving up 207 yards a game.
Junior linebacker Cardia
Jackson leads all tacklers with 96 stops, along with seven
tackles for a loss. Junior defensive end Aaron Morgan boasts
11.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and seven quarterback
hurries. ULM returns seven starters on defense with no
particular area of the defense left with a major void. Two
defensive ends return, all three linebackers, and both
safeties from last year's team that upset Alabama.
Ole Miss' big offense line and skilled players should have
success against the ULM defense.
Advantage: Ole Miss
Ole Miss passing versus the
secondary: Ole Miss is No. 67 in passing offense,
throwing for 207 yards a game. The good news is that sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead has cut down on his turnovers and is showing better judgment in the
pocket - sometimes taking a loss or throwing the ball away when a play is not
there instead of forcing things. The bad news is that he's still struggling with
consistency -which most often has been caused by early pressure that gets him
off rhythm - and then it takes a quarter or two for him to settle down.
For the Rebels to win out, his maturation is a must, and ULM offers a game that
he might gain some confidence to build on. ULM is No. 88 in pass defense, giving
up almost 238 yards a game. The Rebels should find success early in the running
game and some of Snead's best plays have come on play action passes. The
Rebels wide receiver corps should create problems in a Warhawk secondary that
returns just two starters.
Advantage: Ole Miss
versus the Ole Miss ground defense: Louisiana-Monroe
is very respectable in the running game, accounting for 158
yards a game on the ground and a No. 52 ranking.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss is No. 18 in defending the run, giving up
just 106 yards a game. Rebel defensive coordinator
Tyrone Nix noted after the Auburn game -when Ole Miss allowed
Auburn just 75 yards on the ground - that the Rebel run
defense has been solid since giving up 216 yards in the opener
against Memphis. Warhawk sophomore running back Frank Goodin
is the top rusher with 649 yards on 147 carries with four
touchdowns. ULM lost the school's all-time leading rusher in
Calvin Dawson, who gained over 1,400 yards last season and
also had to replace all of its offensive line from a year ago
except for right tackle Larry Shappley. If the Rebel
front seven can limit the likes of Alabama and Auburn in the
running game, they should find success in stopping ULM.
Edge: Ole Miss
ULM passing versus the Ole Miss secondary:
If there's an area where ULM can make the game close against Ole Miss, it's in
the passing game. ULM is No. 72 in passing offense, throwing for 200 yards a
game. The Rebels continue to slide down the ladder in passing defense. Ole Miss
is No. 95 in pass defense, giving up over 243 yards a game. It's been the
achilles heel for the team for most of the season. However, a positive for
the team is that in the last outing against Auburn, the secondary had three
interceptions that stopped drives that likely would have turned the game in
Auburn's favor. For the second game in a row, Ole Miss will face a mobile
quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster has completed 167-of-279 passes for 1,854 yards,
good for 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. He totaled 328 yards of offense
against Middle Tennessee in his last outing, rushing for 126 and throwing for
202 and two touchdowns. While Ole Miss did a good job in limiting Auburn
quarterback Kodi Burns to just 21 yards on the ground in the last game; however,
allowed him to have a career passing day. The Rebels will have to stop wide
receiver Darrell McNeal, who is leading ULM with an impressive 49 receptions,
good for 527 yards and four touchdowns.
Special Teams: Ole Miss'
special teams have progressed well through the season and
remain sound for the most part. Place kicker Josh Shene
missed just his second field of the season against Auburn -
and his ability beyond 40 yards remains in question.
Punter Rob Park has been exceptionally consistent in punting
over the last three games. The return game remains solid
with Mike Wallace on kicks and Marshay Green on punts.
Punt coverage has been good. ULM is No. 106 in punt returns
(Ole Miss 46), No. 75 in kick returns (Ole Miss 37), No. 101
in punt return defense (Ole Miss 43), and No. 35 in kick
return defense (Ole Miss 83).
Edge: Ole Miss
Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 48F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.
Low Saturday is 28F.
TV: No live TV. The CSS replay of the game will be Sunday at 1
p.m. RADIO: Ole Miss Radio Network (David Kellum,
play-by-play; Pete Cordelli, color analyst; Stan Sandroni,
sideline reporter). Satellite radio: Sirius 217; XM 200. WEB:
OleMissSports.com will provide live audio through RebelVision,
live stats and an in-game blog. The official Rebel athletics
website will also provide a full game recap, a photo gallery
and live postgame video.