In the first of a three-game home stretch, the Rebels defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 57-35 behind a dominant performance from quarterback Shea Patterson who threw for more than 350 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns. Now that the game is over, the Rebels have turned their attention to Saturday’s rivalry bout with the LSU Tigers, a run-heavy team that features Derrius Guice, one of the best running backs in the nation.
“I think you have to do whatever you can do to slow down the LSU run game,” head coach Matt Luke said. “But they present so many problems with their motions and speed sweeps, and they attack you on the perimeter. You can’t just load everyone inside the box, because they will go around the perimeter and beat you with that speed sweep.”
Just three short weeks ago, LSU was upset by Troy University, a 21-point underdog entering the game. Since the homecoming loss, LSU has rebounded by beating No. 21 Florida and No. 10 Auburn, something that caught attention throughout the nation, Luke included.
“I have a lot of respect for coach (Ed) Orgeron,” Luke said. “I worked for him for a year. He’s a very energetic guy, and I have been very impressed with their last two wins. They give you a lot of schematic problems, and it’s going to be an exciting home matchup.”
With this home matchup meaning so much to him and the fan base, Luke hopes the energetic atmosphere surrounding the game will get the players fired up and ready to go.
“That home-field advantage is huge for us,” Luke said. “Our players feed off our crowd, and we are excited to have another home SEC game.”
This past weekend against Vanderbilt, Marquis Haynes had a career day with three sacks and eight total tackles, enough to make him the Ole Miss all-time sack leader.
“He was smiling, and he just cut loose and played within the scheme,” Luke said. “The overall feel and energy at home was different, and I think he was a big reason for that.”
Haynes will need to have another big game against LSU on Saturday if the Rebel defense hopes to slow down the Tigers’ multi-versed offense. Starting with a push on the line, Luke and the guys in the locker room know it starts with wrapping up the dynamic running back in purple and gold.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Luke said. “We have seen him before, but (Guice) is a very, very talented back. We are going to have to do a great job of trying to tackle him, because in a one-on-one, he is going to win that matchup an awful lot, so we are going to have to get a bunch of people to the ball.”
While Guice is one of the premier backs in the SEC, he is not the only unit of production on the LSU offense. Against Auburn last weekend, receiver D.J. Chark had 150 yards on five catches and totals the second most yards in the SEC on the year, behind only A.J. Brown.
“He returned a punt for a touchdown, so obviously you have to stop him,” Luke said. “But the big focus is still going to be on Guice. That’s the guy you have to try and take out of the game to try and make them one-dimensional.”
Ultimately, a win on Saturday would be no small feat for an Ole Miss program that hopes to have rediscovered its rhythm against the Commodores, but Luke is excited to take the field in front of a rejuvenated Rebel nation.
“This is a huge game,” he said. “We’re excited, and I think fans will be excited to be here. It’s an Ole Miss/LSU rivalry.”
Ole Miss and LSU will battle it out in the Magnolia Bowl for the 106th time Saturday. The game will kick off at 6:15 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN.