Quarterback Shea Patterson and the Ole Miss offense will look to build off a great week of practice as they travel to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend to take on linebacker Zach Cunningham and the tough Vanderbilt defense.
“We’re playing a team that gives people problems. They stay in every game,” Head Coach Hugh Freeze said of the Commodores.
Coming off an impressive performance against Texas A&M at Kyle Field in his first college start, Patterson will have perhaps an even bigger test this weekend as he faces off against Cunningham and the stingy Vanderbilt defense. Cunningham has 113 total tackles through the first 10 games of the season, and for all of Vanderbilt’s flaws, its defense has kept them in ball games this year.
“Defensively, they’re very good,” Freeze said of Vanderbilt’s defense. “They have a good scheme, so it’s going to be a good challenge, but I like the way we’ve prepared.”
Freeze noted on Monday that Head Coach Derek Mason is one of the brightest defensive minds in college football and his defense has always given the Rebels issues.
“He’s a different guy, he believes that he can get the job done, so I don’t notice a lot of difference in his demeanor, I mean obviously, another week of studying teams and seeing what he did wrong last week to improve on,” Freeze said of Patterson’s change from week one to week two in the starting role. “We’ve also got to give him to time to grow up, he’s only going into game two in the Southeastern Conference.”
“Zach Cunningham is pretty special, they’re defensive line is good too, but they’re linebackers are really talented,” Freeze said on Vandy’s strength of their defense.
Freeze also agreed that Cunningham is one of the most improved players from year one to year three in the Southeastern Conference that he’s seen.
Chad Kelly underwent surgery on Monday in Pensacola, Florida, according to Freeze.
“He’s starting rehab now with Doctor Andrews and his crew, I think he plans on staying down there for 10 days to get the rehab started right,” Freeze said.
It was reported early Wednesday afternoon that Barney Farrar, Ole Miss’ assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations, had been placed on administrative leave according to multiple reports. Freeze said he can’t discuss any personnel right now, but added that he still “absolutely” has confidence in the way the program is run.
The Rebels take on Vanderbilt 7 p.m. Saturday on SEC Network.