Tulane, Ole Miss’ next football opponent, has a much more refined offense than Mercer, which fell to the Rebels 73-7 last Saturday. Though the Green Wave also like 12 personnel — one running back, two tight ends — they show several formations, diversify their play calling and execute at a much higher level. They also have the benefit of strong QB play courtesy of Michael Pratt.
Although Tulane occasionally runs out of an empty formation, their passing offense revolves mainly around play action. Many of their chunk plays come from play-action shots and routes that attack the boundary.
Discipline in the secondary will be critical for the Rebels to limit an efficient passing attack that threw just one incompletion against 294 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1. Pratt also has the guts to stick in the pocket when facing pressure.
He has shown he can deliver accurate passes moments before getting blasted by a free blitzer. The edge rushers must be sure to take wider angles on Saturday in order to get pressure on Pratt. The veteran QB is willing and able to make plays rolling out, so getting upfield is essential to contain his legs.
Ole Miss must be coordinated on the defensive line and disciplined in the secondary if they want to shut down the Green Wave.
The run game should be a little easier to stop than the passing game. Tulane likes to pull everybody for their inside runs. If the interior defensive line can hold up their guys, Ole Miss has a great chance to cause a lot of traffic in the backfield.
The outside game will rely on stringing out the ball carrier and not allowing individuals on the defensive line to lose their matchup and create cutback lanes. A Rebel victory on Saturday will depend on how many tackles the LBs can make, as well as the pressure Ole Miss can create up front.
Tulane’s base defense is a 4-2-5 look, with the nickel playing tight to the line of scrimmage and occasionally turning into an improv edge defender with a five-man front. The Green Wave primarily runs seven-man zone concepts on the back end, but they will use both man and zone to support their frequent blitzing.
Tulane’s run defense starts with its fifth defensive back, its nickel. The starter in this position is Kam Pedescleaux, and he does an excellent job turning runs back inside despite his small size.
Tulane combats off-tackle runs particularly well by having their nickel back shoot up field, forcing his blocker to wall off the running back. Even if the RB then cuts upfield, Tulane’s linebackers will be patiently waiting.
The Green Wave’s linebacker unit flows particularly well and does a good job identifying and occupying their gaps. To be successful, Ole Miss has to find ways to run downhill at the Tulane defense and force them to dig in rather than string runs out toward the sideline.
Ole Miss may not break out a big run this way, but consistent five-yard gains will keep the chains moving and the defense honest.
Finally, Tulane showed a lot of different blitzes against South Alabama last week, and Ole Miss should be able to expose them.
The Green Wave brings seven-man pressure on the third down. To beat this, Ole Miss must have a check-down option for quarterback Jaxson Dart. Generally speaking, offensive line communication will be critical. Diagnosing and picking up blitzes will keep this offense afloat, but letting free runners get to the QB will result in turnovers and stagnant play.
Three Keys to Victory:
- Stay disciplined on the defensive line
- Communicate on the offensive line
- Play top-down coverage