1. With the drama surrounding the Texas defense, do you think a new coordinator will make a huge difference Saturday?
Matt Sigler (@SigNewton_2): I don’t anticipate huge changes to the Texas defense come game time. I expect the Longhorn defense to stay who they are at their foundation, but occasionally put out some new schemes and looks. To completely change a defense in a short amount of time has too much risk to turn out tragic, and I don’t expect a team like Texas to do so.
John Luke McCord (@JLgrindin): I think the defense will show a different scheme at times, but just because you change coordinators after two weeks of the season, that doesn’t mean that the personnel changes. The Longhorn defense is what it is at this point, I believe. Their secondary is weak, and they have trouble defending the run. So, to answer the question simply, no. I do not think it will make a huge difference.
David Collier (@DavidLCollier): I think the biggest impact will be emotional. The Texas defensive players can either react with inspired play, or they can hang their heads and continue to struggle. Their mindset will be key in this one.
2. Ole Miss has its own problems defensively. What is the biggest key for success against the new Texas spread offense?
Sigler: The Ole Miss secondary is going to have to come up big in this game. After coming off a week where stopping the option is the main concern, I wouldn’t be surprised seeing some confusion in the back of the defense when the Longhorns attempt to air it out. With athletes spread all over the field for Texas, a big-play threat, especially a deep threat, could pose a problem for the Rebel secondary.
McCord: I would tend to think it would be stopping the run on early downs, considering the talent the Longhorns have at running back and how they were able to run on the Rebels last season, but the Longhorns have not been so effective this season. Quarterback David Ash is their leading rusher. So I will say the key for the Rebels is not giving up the big play in the passing game.
Collier: If Ole Miss can slow down the Texas running attack, that will be huge. Last year, the Rebels were physically outmatched. The secondary will give up yards and probably big plays, but if Ole Miss can slow down the run and get off the field on third downs, they’ve got a shot.
3. How many points will the Rebel offense have to score to get the win over the Longhorns?
Sigler: I think for Ole Miss to feel safe 40 is a logical number. However, if the defense is able to put a lock on the Longhorn offense, I think Ole Miss can sneak out of Austin with a win scoring as few as 28.
McCord: I believe the Rebels will only need to reach 35 points to get the win on Saturday.
Collier: I think if Ole Miss scores 40, they’ve got a shot. But if both defenses struggle like they could, things could get crazy, and the first team to 60 could be the one that comes out on top.
4. What factor will make the difference in who wins this game?
Sigler: I anticipate the running game to be the major factor in this game. I expect Ole Miss to try and exploit a Texas defense that gave up yards to BYU on the ground with the read option running game, while Texas will most likely look to try and run over the Rebels like last season.
McCord: I think this game will start and end inside the heads of the players on each team. Whichever team wants this game more will likely win. If David Ash starts this game for the Longhorns, then I think both teams are capable of winning, it’s just who wants it more.
Collier: The Longhorns have something to prove, but they could be playing tight and make mistakes. Ole Miss is searching for a big road win and could feel the same pressure. The team that has fewer mistakes should end up with the win.