What to expect when Ole Miss faces Wofford on Saturday

Posted on Sep 9 2016 - 8:01am by Brian Scott Rippee

A day after his team arrived home from Orlando around 4 a.m., Head Coach Hugh Freeze joked about the idea of playing Wofford and its triple-option offense on such a short turnaround.

“That wasn’t real smart on our scheduling,” Freeze said with a sheepish grin. “It is totally different, usually you would like to have two weeks to get ready for it and we basically have two days. We just have to correct the mistakes and hopefully stay healthy for sure.”

The Terriers run an offense that is seldom seen in major college football these days, but that isn’t to say it is simple. Defensive Coordinator David Wommack said Wofford boasts five or six different personnel groups and almost 90 different formations, which could cause problems for the Rebels if they aren’t disciplined defensively. He said it will be all about keeping your eyes in the right place and committing to assignment football.

“The other thing is keeping it simple because we are in such a short window here of getting ready for the game,” Wommack said. “Our scout team is critical in being able to execute as closely as you can to what they’re doing. Speed will be a huge advantage in the game in making up for some things.”

Though the team has only had three days to form a game plan for this quirky attack, they planned ahead a little bit during fall camp.

“We spent three or four days in camp with a 30-minute period introducing what our defense is going to face,” Freeze said. “Whether or not they can recall that today, who knows, but we did think we had to do that.”

What happened last week?

Wofford – The team opened its season with a 21-7 win over Tennessee State. It rushed the ball 54 times for 346 yards. Eight different Terriers ran the football and three of them had at least 85 yards. Wofford threw the ball just eight times for 42 yards. All of its touchdowns came on the ground.

Ole Miss – The Rebels took one on the chin in Orlando as it was worn down and exposed by a talented Florida State team in the second half. Turnovers plagued the Rebels in the second half and the team was out of sorts defensively.

“Just correcting the mistakes, you know and handling the September schedule, the mental part of it and the physical rest. This is a tough turnaround,” Freeze said of his main focus going forward.

This week will serve as valuable experience for some younger guys still looking to get acclimated.

Storylines to watch:

  • How will Ole Miss respond to adversity?

This is a game that Ole Miss should easily win, there’s no hiding that. It will be interesting to see how some different things play out. The Rebels are hurting in the secondary and at running back. Earlier this week, Freeze discussed some possible position changes as well as who might see some carries at running back on Saturday.

“We have Jarrion Street that can move back over there too or Kailo Moore, but we are so thin at corner that so probably Jarrion would be the next guy, if we had to do that,” Freeze said.  “D.K. Buford is working hard to get a shot and hopefully Akeem (Judd) and Eugene (Brazley) and Blue (D’Vaughn Pennamon), Blue’s redshirt is probably not going to happen. He is going to get ready to go and we will see some action this Saturday.”

Freeze also said wide receiver Derrick Jones could move back over to defensive back where he previously played, but no such move has been made yet.

  • The triple option can give teams fits; will Wofford be able to score enough to hang around for a little bit? How will Ole Miss handle it?

Senior defensive tackle D.J. Jones said this team takes pride in stopping the run, and referred to an old saying on Thursday when asked about this.

“Stop the run and then you have fun, as they say. So, stop the run and let them pass the ball a few times and see what we can do in the air,” Jones said.

At the end of the day, Ole Miss is too fast and while Wofford may have some early success, the Rebels’ speed will soon engulf the Terrier offense.

  • Will we see Shea Patterson?

Patterson came to campus in January as the number-one rated quarterback in the 2016 class. He is a big reason why Ole Miss fans are excited about the future. The question here is, will he redshirt, or will Freeze let him loose on Saturday if the game is well in reach?

Well, he still doesn’t know the answer to that yet. Freeze said he’d sit down with Patterson at some point on Friday and discuss this. Fans likely won’t know if Patterson will see any action until the game comes around on Saturday.

Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.