Ole Miss, Auburn battle in SEC up-tempo slugfest

Posted on Oct 4 2013 - 7:38am by Matt Sigler
Alabama Mississippi Football

Hugh Freeze and players prepare to take the field before Saturday’s game against Alabama.
Photo by Austin McAfee

The No. 24 Ole Miss Rebels will look to avenge their 25-0 loss this past weekend to No. 1 Alabama when they once again hit the road to take on Auburn.

The Tigers (3-1, 1-1 SEC) are coming off a bye week and have the advantage in the series against Ole Miss, leading 27-10, with an overwhelmingly good mark in the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium at 13-2.

“They remind me a lot of us last year,” Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze said of the Tigers. “They’re a very, very hungry team that plays with great emotion, energy and passion. It doesn’t surprise me at all with Gus (Malzahn’s) leadership. I know that they’re off to a great start.

“They have been very, very good at home, which we’ve got to go there. It’s another road trip in a hostile environment on a Saturday night. It’s a big game for both schools, sitting at 3-1. He will have them ready.”

The matchup will be an intriguing one with both offenses running a very similar spread, read-option look. However, Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack feels it will give the Rebels an advantage on that side of the ball after being exposed to it in practice all the time.

“We do a lot of fast-tempo stuff,” Wommack said. “It will certainly help us. There are all different kinds of tempos though, and they can catch you sleeping, so you have to pay attention the whole time.”

The Rebels will attempt to shut down an up-tempo Auburn offense led by junior quarterback Nick Marshall, who has thrown for 809 yards this season with four touchdowns as well as four interceptions.

“I watched the first game and thought, man, this guy can’t throw a lick,” Wommack said. “But then they played Arkansas State, and you could see improvement, and then they played Mississippi State and you saw a lot of improvement. I think he is doing a really good job for the amount of time he’s been in that scheme, and again they run a lot of offense.”

Auburn will also try to get the rushing attack going with junior running back Tre Mason, who leads the team in carries (65), yards (338) and touchdowns (4). Last season against Ole Miss, Mason ran for 82 yards on 18 carries and also scored two touchdowns.

“I think he is strong,” Wommack said of Mason. “He’s not really tall and is kind of hard to find sometimes, but he plays with a passion, he is a tough guy. I think their whole trio of backs is absolutely one of their strengths.”

Ole Miss will look to improve upon its offensive performance last week against Alabama, and it all starts with the play of junior quarterback Bo Wallace. Last season, Wallace had a huge game against Auburn, going 17-for-22 through the air for 226 yards and a touchdown. He also added 39 rushing yards with two touchdowns, and had a touchdown reception from 25 yards out.

So far this season, Wallace has had success in areas which he struggled last season, mainly turnovers. He hasn’t been intercepted yet and has thrown for 807 yards and four touchdowns through four games. He has also contributed in the running game with 125 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior running back Jeff Scott will also be looking to get back on track after going for a season-low 28 yards on just eight carries against Alabama last weekend. Scott is the Rebels’ leading rusher with 358 yards through four games and has two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, Auburn will rotate plenty of players and Ole Miss offensive coordinator Dan Werner has noticed some improvement in the Tiger defense as the season has progressed.

“They play a lot of people,” Werner said. “So they obviously have a lot of depth. So that is a big plus for them, too. If we are going fast and they only play a few, we feel like we can wear them down, but they do play a lot of guys.”

Defensively, Auburn will be led by Robenson Therezie and Cassanova McKinzy, who are first and second on the team in tackles with 25 and 21, respectively.

The Rebels and Tigers will kick off at 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPNU.

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