The Ole Miss football team is coming off of a bye week after beating Vanderbilt 54-21 the week prior. This Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the Rebels will face a South Carolina team that has been inconsistent this season.
In a press conference this week, head coach Lane Kiffin outlined what areas the team worked on over its extended prep time.
“We did a lot of work on consistency in the run game and communication upfront,” Kiffin said. “(We did) a lot of red-zone work because we’re as good as anyone in the country offensively outside of the red zone. Our problem has been the struggles in the red zone and then the turnovers. In one game, I thought I saw we had 10 turnovers or something. That means we had seven in one game and three in all the others combined.”
For more insight into this week’s matchup, The Daily Mississippian spoke with the co-sports editor of The Daily Gamecock, Michael Sauls. Sauls explained some of his concerns for the Gamecocks on the defensive side of the game. South Carolina struggled last week in a blowout loss to Texas A&M.
“On the defensive side of the ball, it’s going to be very important that South Carolina is able to contain Matt Corral,” Sauls said. “The defense had bad luck containing a top SEC passer in Kellen Mond last week, so hopefully they’ll be able to contain him by cutting him off from his receivers, mainly Elijah Moore. The Carolina defense also has to make sure to not sleep on the Ole Miss running game. Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy are two guys that could cause big problems if they get going early.”
The Rebels’ run game is something to look out for this week. Both Conner and Ealy broke out for over 100 yards against Alabama in the third week of the season. The talent of the two running backs combined with the intentional focus on the run game in practice over the past two weeks could lead to a big rushing game for the Rebels.
Along with the Gamecocks’ concerns about stopping the Ole Miss run game, Sauls said he thinks the team had a big question mark on offense.
“In his Sunday teleconference, (South Carolina head coach Will) Muschamp basically said that the starting quarterback position is up for grabs this week, and whoever practices best will be the starter,” Sauls said. “So, whoever is named starter of Collin Hill, Ryan Hilinksi and Luke Doty will definitely be worth watching.”
In terms of this game’s outcome, Sauls is not hopeful for the Gamecocks to win.
“Both teams need this win badly, and as much as I want South Carolina to win, I think they’ll come up short and lose by one score,” Sauls said. “I think defensively, South Carolina will play much better than they have in the last couple of weeks, but I think there are too many potential question marks surrounding the offense for the team to pull out a win.”
The Rebels are 4-2 this season, but the remaining portion of their schedule is manageable compared to other SEC teams, which leaves open the possibility of the Rebels being eligible for a bowl game.