As the 6-1 Rebels come to Auburn for a primetime Southeastern Conference matchup, here are some players and trends that are likely to control the outcome of Saturday's game.
Demetris Robertson (WR)
The transfer wide-out from Georgia has caught for 312 yards this season. In SEC play so far, Ole Miss has let up a 67% completion percentage, at 12 yards per completion. If the Auburn passing game can run efficiently through Robertson, Auburn could have a big day on offense.
Colby Wooden (DE)
Currently in a three-way tie for the team lead in sacks, Wooden’s importance to the pass rush cannot be overstated. While Matt Corral has gotten much praise this season for his performance, a major knock of his abilities is a lack of evasiveness in the pocket. Wooden, Eku Leota and the rest of the pass rush have to take advantage if they want to keep Ole Miss off the board.
Zakoby McClain (LB)
With the Rebels’ run game hanging at a steady 5.4 yards per attempt this season, and the temperature for the game projecting to be down in the high 40’s, Auburn’s rush defense has to be in top shape for the matchup. McClain’s impact was most notable against Georgia State. While sitting out the first half due to a targeting penalty from Penn State, the Panthers racked up 219 rushing yards. When McClain entered the game in the second half, Georgia State could only muster 48.
Matt Corral (QB)
The quarterback that Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin called “frontrunner for the Heisman” during a press conference this week has been on an amazing run this season. He has a 167.92 passer rating on the year with 15 touchdowns and one interception. Auburn’s secondary has shown some weaknesses this season, especially against Penn State’s Sean Clifford. It will be interesting to see how efficient Corral can be in the cold, loud environment of Jordan-Hare.
Sam Williams (DE)
With the Tigers’ offensive line facing some injuries, the 265-lb Williams could play a huge role in the Rebel’s defense. Williams, who has 7.5 sacks on the year, has all the tools necessary to be an intimidating pass rusher.
Mark Robinson (LB)
With Auburn’s rush heavy offense, the Rebels will need a way to contain Tank Bigsby and Jarquez Hunter. Robinson, who had 12 tackles versus LSU, will be a big part in stopping the run game. He had 12 total tackles against LSU, and helped hold the purple-and-gold Tigers to 77 yards on the ground. Robinson walked on to Ole Miss, originally as a running back. His experience on offense has helped him read blocking packages and make great instinctive decisions on the other side of the ball.
Keys to Victory
Short passes are the name of the game. With the cold temps setting in, heaving a long ball or two could kill drives before they start.
Getting to Corral has been the only way to stop him this season. Get to the backfield and force him to make plays on his feet.
The Rebels will need to stay disciplined against the run. Trying to make big plays in the backfield could lead to some game changing runs from Tank or Jarquez.
The best way to silence a loud crowd in a night game is to make a big play in the first few drives. Take some shots downfield and let Corral’s arm do the work to quiet the Auburn faithful.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.