Ole Miss’ September schedule doesn’t get any easier in Week 4.
For the third time in four weeks, the Rebels will take on one of the nation’s top teams in No. 12 Georgia.
After dropping the season opener against Florida State and falling to Alabama at home last week, coach Hugh Freeze knows his team is up for another challenge. The added difficulty to this contest: It kicks off at noon ET.
“It’s a challenge,” Freeze said of playing a noon. “It’s not something that you can’t accomplish. We have to attack the week right with a positive mindset, provide great energy to our team. Eleven o’clock is a little different animal playing Georgia who is a top-15, top-12 team is another great challenge. Our September has been filled with that. While it is disappointing, life if disappointing at times and it’s what you make of it after those disappointments.”
The Rebels have been unable to put together a complete game against their elite competition, with the team’s only win coming in a 38-13 win against Wofford in Week 2.
In every other contest, Ole Miss has came out firing while outscoring Florida State and Alabama, 52-30, in the first half. However, the Rebels have fallen apart in both second halves, holding a combined scoring deficit of 63-25 in the matchups.
“It’s disappointing anytime you are in competition against some of the nation’s elite and don’t get the job done when you had a chance to and we did not.” Freeze said. “I love the attitude our coaches and players have and ready to get back out in a home game. Another SEC, 60-minute battle that we have to find a way to finish.”
The Bulldogs enter Saturday’s game with a 3-0 record coming off the heels of a comeback victory against Missouri. Except it was the passing game that’s yielded the success the past two weeks as star running back Nick Chubb has been held under 81 yards in each of the last two games — the first coming against Nicholls State (80 yards and a touchdown).
Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason was forced to throw the ball 55 times against Missouri, and the Rebels would like to put the first-year signal caller in a similar position on the road in Oxford.
It won’t be easy. Ole Miss has struggled against the run, ranking as the 13th-best rushing defense in the SEC while allowing an average of 242.8 rushing yards per game. The Rebels gave up 334 rush yards against Alabama last Saturday.
Just because teams have stalled Georgia’s rushing attack doesn’t mean Ole Miss is going to be able to do the same, according to Freeze.
“There are good run defenses in the country these days. I know that people talk about that enough, Freeze said. “Running the football in a lot of cases has become very difficult against the way people play the run and add extra hats to it. The respect we have for Georgia’s run game is enormous.
“We have seen explosive runs that they can create with the backs that they have. I guess my answer would be that it’s not surprising that defenses are able to stop the run, but that doesn’t mean that we can. They are so explosive every time those backs touch the ball that you have to play a locked in 60-minute defense. That’s what hurt us last week against Alabama. We played many good snaps, but gave up way too many explosive runs. We have same respect for this run team as we did last week.”