Texas A&M and Ole Miss are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to third-down conversion percentage on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Ole Miss is first in the Southeastern Conference in converting first downs, with a conversion percentage of 51 percent. That number will be put to the test against the Aggie defense, which is allowing opponents to convert just 26 percent of third downs, which is also first in the conference.
When the Aggies have the ball, they are fourth in the conference in converting third downs on offense, while Ole Miss is next to last in third-down conversion percentage on defense, allowing opponents to convert over 42 percent of third downs.
It will be a test to see which team’s third-down success continues and which doesn’t. In what could be a close game, one or two key third-down conversions or stops could make all the difference.
The Ole Miss offensive line will have its hands full with Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, who has emerged as one of the more explosive players in the conference.
On the year, he has 27 tackles, 10 and a half tackles for loss, six sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
This is an issue for the Rebels because, as a team, they have allowed the most sacks in the conference. Through five games, Ole Miss has given up 16 sacks to opposing defenses.
Slowing down Moore and the rest of a fast, physical Aggie defense will be a tough task for Ole Miss. Texas A&M has racked up 17 sacks on the season, including eight in a season-opening loss to Florida.
After primarily using a 4-3 defense against Alabama’s physical running attack, expect Ole Miss to revert back to a 4-2-5 scheme to get as much speed on the field as possible to counteract redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, racked up 453 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, while adding 104 yards and a score on the ground.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze raved about Manziel’s ability to extend the play, and stopping that will be a main focus for the Ole Miss defense.
Teams have begun to keep a spy on Manziel in an attempt to keep him in the pocket, and the Rebels will make sure that at least one person will have their eyes on him at all times.
Manziel’s improvisation skills when running out of the pocket have been on full display so far this season, and the Rebels’ defense will have to stay disciplined to slow him down.
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