No. 19 Ole Miss has now put together two solid performances in a row, and the Rebels are still quietly in control of their own destiny in the SEC West.
Following Ole Miss’ loss to Memphis, things could’ve gone two drastically different ways, and it appears the Rebels have righted the ship. Ole Miss has figured things out defensively and the run game has improved tremendously since Laremy Tunsil’s return.
- RB Akeem Judd: Ole Miss has desperately been trying to figure out a way to run the ball with any kind of consistency, and Judd has stepped up his game over the past couple of weeks. In the Rebels’ two wins over Texas A&M and Auburn, Judd has totaled 122 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries (6.1 yards per carry).
- WR Damore’ea Stringfellow: Much of the attention in Ole Miss’ receiving corps is geared toward Laquon Treadwell, and rightfully so. However, Stringfellow has been a steady receiver all season long for the Rebels offense, and Saturday’s win against Auburn might have been his breakout performance. Stringfellow had eight receptions for 71 yards in the win.
- Third-down defense: Against Memphis, Ole Miss allowed the Tigers to successfully convert third downs on 12 of 20 attempts. Since then, the Rebels have gone completely the other way. In Ole Miss’ wins over Texas A&M and Auburn, the Landshark defense has held its opponents to 8-of-39 (20.5 percent) on third- and fourth-down attempts.
- DE Marquis Haynes: A big reason for Ole Miss’ improved defense the past two games is the play of Haynes. The quick-twitch defensive end has four sacks and six tackles for loss over the past two games, and he has quietly totaled eight sacks on the year, which ranks second in the SEC.
- Chad Kelly’s decision-making: Make no mistake about it, Kelly is the key to Ole Miss being where it is with three games left on the schedule. However, putting up big stats isn’t what it’s all about. Kelly has thrown at least two interceptions in the past three games and 11 over the past six contests. That will undoubtedly be a key down the stretch, and it will be interesting to see how Kelly’s decision-making plays a role in a critical situation.
- WR Cody Core: As stated earlier, Stringfellow and Treadwell have been big pieces of Ole Miss’ passing attack as of late, but with that, Core has kind of disappeared. Over the past two games, Core has just two receptions for 26 yards. In fact, Core has caught more than two passes just one time since his big performance against Alabama on Sept. 19.