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Hipp's Tips: Central Arkansas

In this week's installment, The Daily Mississippian's football beat writer Bennett Hipp will give keys to the week's matchup.

 
1. First impression
 
Saturday gives Hugh Freeze his one shot at a great first impression on the field. By all accounts, Freeze made a great first impression off the field in his introductory press conference back in December at the Ford Center.
 
Now, he’ll be showcasing his up-tempo offense and trying to prove that Ole Miss is on the rebound from two disastrous seasons in a row. Expectations aren’t high, but so much has been made of Freeze’s “basketball on grass” offense that early touchdowns and a consistent offensive performance would go a long way in pleasing a fan base that appears desperate for any success.
 
2. Wallace gets first shot
 
Ole Miss enters Saturday’s game with co-number ones at quarterback in Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti. With that said, Wallace will take the first snaps Saturday night.
 
While Hugh Freeze has said he wants to play both quarterbacks equally, he’s also said that if a quarterback gets hot, he’ll stay in for a few more drives.
 
What that means for Wallace is that if he comes out firing and Ole Miss is able to move the ball down the field, he could take that first step toward showing he’s the quarterback for Ole Miss going forward.
 
On the flip side, if Wallace comes out and struggles, Brunetti could come in and show he’s the guy going forward.
 
3. Smother Smothers
 
Central Arkansas quarterback Wynrick Smothers has the unfortunate task of replacing former FCS All-American quarterback Nathan Dick, who threw for an astounding 3,275 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.
 
Smothers has some experience under his belt, having played in 12 games the last two seasons -- including one start, which came against Hugh Freeze and Arkansas State last year. Smothers was 16-of-31 for 224 yards, one touchdown, 37 yards rushing and even caught a touchdown pass.
 
The junior is a dual-threat quarterback, so it will be interesting to see how successful Smothers is running the ball against Ole Miss’ smaller, speedier linebackers.
 
Forcing Smothers to be one-dimensional in his playing style could severely limit what Central Arkansas does play-calling wise as the game goes on.
 
4. Inexperience on the lines
 
The matchup of the Central Arkansas offensive line against the Ole Miss defensive line features a bunch of players with little or no experience at the collegiate level.
 
Bears left tackle Dominique Allen and center Corey Howard have started a combined 49 collegiate games. The other three members of the Central Arkansas line have combined to start one game total.
 
On the flip side, the Ole Miss starting defensive line has combined for five total starts. C.J. Johnson has three at end, and Carlton Martin has two at tackle. Issac Gross has never played a college down yet, and this will be E.J. Epperson’s first game at defensive end.
 
It will be a fascinating matchup to watch and see if Ole Miss’ young defensive linemen can take advantage of the three unproven offensive lineman, or if the two veteran stalwarts hold together UCA’s line and keeps the Ole Miss pass rush at bay.
 
Much has been said about an improved pass rush for the Rebels from last season to this one, and Saturday will be the first glance at whether Ole Miss has improved in that regard.
 
5. Keep an eye on Grandy
 
Former Ole Miss wide receiver and return specialist Jesse Grandy has found a home at Central Arkansas. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior was named to the All-Southland Conference Team last year after success in multiple roles for the Bears.
 
Grandy was used all over, catching 49 passes for over 700 yards and nine touchdowns, rushing nine times, returning 18 punts and 16 kickoffs.
 
Expect more of that from Central Arkansas on Saturday, as Grandy possesses possibly the most game breaking ability on the team. He’s one of those players that teams have to game plan for exclusively, and Ole Miss could be burned if they fail to keep tabs on Grandy.
 
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss football, follow @thedm_sports and @bennetthipp on Twitter.