Rebel football improved to 4-2 (0-2 SEC) on the season following its blowout win over Louisiana-Monroe on homecoming weekend. Now, the Rebels’ get another shot at their first SEC win as they face Arkansas this Saturday on the road in a primetime showdown.
“Moving on to Arkansas, (it’s) a big road game for us,” head coach Matt Luke said. “We will have to play well to win.”
Arkansas, to this point, has been the worst team in the SEC with an overall record of 1-5 (0-3). The Razorbacks are currently on a five game losing streak following their week one win over Eastern Illinois, with losses to Colorado State and North Texas on their resume.
However, despite its record, Arkansas may present Ole Miss some problems on Saturday. The Razorbacks were within a touchdown of beating Texas A&M earlier this year, while putting up 31 points against the same Alabama defense that held Ole Miss to just seven points. Arkansas’ 31 points scored is the most the Crimson Tide have allowed so far through six games.
“I was really impressed with them last week (against Alabama),” Luke said. “I think you see them getting better and better, but definitely a good and capable football team.”
Luke talked about how potentially dangerous Arkansas’ offensive attack can be during his weekly press conference on Monday.
“They have settled in on their quarterback, using Ty Storey as their starter and having a package for Cole Kelley,” Luke said. “I think they did an outstanding job with shifts and motions, keeping Alabama off balance and keeping their tight ends involved. They did a good job with some screens to slow the pass rush down and things like that, so I think they are settling in to who they are, but I think they did an outstanding job last week.”
Ole Miss’ trip across the Mississippi River will be just the second conference road challenge for the Rebels so far. With the LSU game in Baton Rouge behind them, the Rebels have already experienced one of the most hostile environments in the SEC.
“It’s always a huge challenge to go on the road and play. Any time that you’re in this conference and you go on the road, you have to have that mental toughness enough to be able to block out the distractions and do your job over and over again regardless of the circumstance,” Luke said. “I think we saw some more of that this past week. I just want to build on that and take it on the road, and be able to just lock in and focus and be able to do our job for four quarters.”
Luke and his team put together the most complete performance on both sides of the ball against
Louisiana-Monroe since the season opener against Texas Tech. The offense gained over 800 yards total and the defense allowed just two touchdowns, with the third coming from a punt return.
Although the Rebels’ first two SEC opponents, Alabama and LSU, are arguably the top teams in the SEC West, Ole Miss has still not shown an ability to effectively score on an SEC defense. Arkansas provides the Rebels with an opportunity to break through offensively.
“No matter what defense you play against, you want to go out there and put up big numbers,” Luke said. “It doesn’t matter what the game is or who you’re playing, you want to go out there and live up to your standard. If we take that approach, we’ll be better off.”
Ole Miss is hoping to break Arkansas’ four game winning streak in the series, and with conference play in full-swing, every game is of utmost importance for the Rebels.
“The teams that win in October and November are the ones that keep on improving,” Luke said. “That’s important that we do that.”