In the season opener, the Ole Miss defense faced one of the top running backs in the nation: Dalvin Cook. The Rebels were able to slow down his ground game, allowing him just 91 rushing yards at 4 yards a carry. Last week against Alabama, the Ole Miss defense struggled to contain the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack, allowing a total of 334 yards on the ground.
The Rebels will have another tough assignment with Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel looking to have a big day against the injury-plagued defense. After a stellar freshman season, Chubb was off to an even better sophomore campaign with 747 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and an average of eight yards a carry before an injury cut his year short. Michel filled in admirably as the starter for the rest of the season and rushed for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry.
“I think he’s a darn good football player but there’s not very many weeks in this league that you aren’t going to face really good backs,” Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack said of Chubb. “I think (Michel) is a really good player as well. They have really good players at running back.”
Chubb and Michel will be relied on to take pressure off of Georgia’s quarterback Jacob Eason, who has passed for 643 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 55 percent of his passes. Wommack was impressed by a freshman quarterback for the third time in the short season.
“The guy has an unbelievably strong arm. At times, obviously, he’s going to make freshman mistakes, but he hasn’t made enough of them not to be 3-0 right now,” Wommack said.
With cornerback Kendarius Webster out for the season, Wommack has had to look further down the depth chart to defend against the pass. Redshirt freshman Jalen Julius stepped up against Alabama and finished with five total tackles. Wommack said he felt Julius had come along well for a freshman.
“He’s made some mistakes with his eyes and made some mistakes with his technique, but he’s making a lot of improvement,” Wommack said.
Also helping the Rebels secondary was the play of senior Huskie Tony Conner, who is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season and didn’t look comfortable in the season opener. After making just two tackles in each of the first two games, Conner made five against the Crimson Tide.
“I thought he looked so much more natural and I still think time will tell, but I think in that first game Tony was very tentative. I think Tony would tell you he was very tentative and cautious of his leg,” Wommack said. “We may have overprotected him in fall camp, and in doing so he wasn’t ready, but I did think he looked much better and hopefully he will continue to look better.”