1. How do you think the Ole Miss offense responds after last week’s shutout?
Matt Sigler (@SigNewton_2): I think the offense comes out with a solid game plan and executes it well this weekend at Auburn. I think Alabama was a wake-up call and showed them that you can’t put things on cruise control, especially in the SEC.
Cody Thomason (@TheCodyThomason): I think Ole Miss returns to its early season form and flourishes against Auburn. I think senior running back Jeff Scott bounces back and has a good game, and junior quarterback Bo Wallace is able to find his receivers for multiple scores.
David Collier (@DavidLCollier): Ole Miss will score points in this one, and lots of them, but the Rebels have to find a way to run the ball. More defenses are going to move their defensive ends out wider to see if Ole Miss can beat them up the middle. They have to find an answer because they will undoubtedly see it.
2. The defense played well for the most part against Alabama. Can they continue that success against Auburn’s spread?
Sigler: I definitely think they can. Ole Miss’ defense was the highlight of the game against Alabama, and I think will continue to be an above-average defense. I also think that the Rebels have a bit of an advantage after practicing against their own offense, which also presents a spread look.
Thomason: Ole Miss can have a much better defensive effort against Auburn than against Alabama. The key is to shut down Tiger running back Tre Mason and force the pass. If Ole Miss can get pressure on Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall and rattle the inexperienced signal caller, they could force multiple turnovers.
Collier: They can, but it’ll be tough this week. On one hand, you can say Ole Miss knows what to expect because Auburn’s offense looks a lot like its own. However, Gus Malzahn has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and the Rebel defense seems to have more trouble against teams that spread things out.
3. Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn have a lot of similarities in their offensive philosophies. Who has the advantage this week, and why?
Sigler: I’ll give the advantage to Freeze, but only because I think he has more playmakers on that side of the ball. Junior Bo Wallace is also light-years ahead of Auburn’s Nick Marshall at the quarterback position, which is obviously a crucial spot.
Thomason: I give Ole Miss the advantage this week due to their experience. While Ole Miss has already had a year to implement their system and a year with Wallace at the helm, Auburn is still experiencing growing pains with their new coach and first-year starter Marshall at quarterback.
Collier: It’s Auburn because of the bye week. Freeze is coming off a frustrating outing last weekend at Alabama, while Malzahn has had two weeks to add wrinkles and work with his new quarterback, Nick Marshall. Both will likely put points on the board, but, going in, the Tigers have a slight edge.
4. What’s the key for Ole Miss to come away with its third win at Jordan-Hare Stadium?
Sigler: The offense is going to have to put points on the board, first and foremost. As always, limiting turnovers is key, and finally when running an up-tempo offense, you can’t have too many three and outs, which causes your defense to be on the field for extended periods of time.
Thomason: Ole Miss has to re-establish a run game. The Rebels only rushed for 46 yards last week against Alabama and were largely one-dimensional for the entire game. Ole Miss needs a big game from Scott or sophomore running back I’Tavius Mathers to bring balance back to the offense.
Collier: Play loose. Last weekend, Ole Miss, particularly the offense, seemed to play tight like they had something to lose when they didn’t. This week, they do have something to lose, but they can’t play like it. In my opinion, the only thing that will keep the Rebels off the scoreboard is them playing not to lose instead of just playing. Take a deep breath, relax and just play.