• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Four Downs: UTEP

In this week’s edition of a weekly feature, The Daily Mississippian football beat writers Bennett Hipp and Matt Sigler, sports editor David Collier and managing editor Austin Miller answer four questions regarding the week’s matchup.

1. Will there be a letdown after the season-opening win against Central Arkansas? Will Ole Miss be looking ahead to next week’s matchup against No. 15 Texas?
Bennett Hipp (@bennetthipp): I don’t think so. Ole Miss isn’t yet at the point where it can begin to overlook opponents. UTEP is a step up from Central Arkansas, and next week’s ESPN primetime matchup will look much better for Hugh Freeze and company if they are 2-0, instead of 1-1. This is one of the more important games of the season for Ole Miss, and I doubt they’ll be looking ahead to Texas.
Matt Sigler (@SigNewton_2): I don’t think there will be a letdown against UTEP this week. This is a different Ole Miss team, and I think they are as confident as ever heading into this game. I think Texas is a lingering thought, but not enough to overtake the task at hand.
David Collier (@DavidLCollier): In my opinion, this game will show exactly where this Ole Miss team is. I think they take another small step forward and begin the year 2-0 because I’m sure Hugh Freeze and his staff have been in team’s ears all week about not taking UTEP lightly. Also, the Miners playing Oklahoma close last week should be enough to get the full attention of the Rebels. 
Austin Miller (@austinkmiller): I think UTEP’s near-upset of No. 4 Oklahoma got Ole Miss’ full attention. I expect more of a letdown from the Miners after playing the Sooners close for three quarters than from an Ole Miss team looking for its first two-game winning streak since October of 2010. The luster will be worn off of next week’s ESPN primetime matchup with a loss this week.
2. Will the Ole Miss defense be able to contain the UTEP running game led by Nathan Jeffery -- who totaled 177 yards on 21 carries?
Hipp: I’ll say yes just because I don’t know what version of Jeffery we’re going to see. His big game against Oklahoma was impressive, but he injured his groin in the third quarter and hasn’t practiced this week. If he’s less than 100 percent ready to go, Ole Miss’ defense should be able to slow him down enough. 
Sigler: The front seven for Ole Miss have a huge task this week in stopping a guy who ran for 177 yards against the No. 4 team in the country last week. Penetration will be key for the line and the linebackers are going to have to keep the UTEP running backs from breaking runs to the outside. Ole Miss is going to have to force the running game of UTEP to the middle of the field in order to have a good shot at stopping it.
Collier: Run defense was the biggest question mark for me heading into the season, and last week’s game didn’t answer any of those questions. It will be a huge test for the undersized Ole Miss defensive line to disregard any concerns. If Nathan Jeffery isn’t able to be a factor, it will be interesting to see how that changes the UTEP offense.
Miller: The health of Jeffery will go a long way in answering this question. With the struggles of UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison this past week, I expect to see Dave Wommack and the Ole Miss defense load the box to stop the run, a lot of run blitzes from the linebackers and safeties and a lot more Gilbert Pena at the defensive tackle spot.
3. What kind of impact does junior running back Jeff Scott make in his season debut?
Hipp: He could have a pretty big one, really. Randall Mackey played well last week, but wasn’t perfect. The freshmen Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers impressed, but they’re still freshmen. Scott is the one proven home run threat they have at the position, and he’s been through the rigors against teams like this and better. Scott’s had a productive week of practice and look for that to carry over into the game. 
Sigler: Not too sure on this one. I think Scott will get some carries, but maybe not as many as anticipated with the emergence of Randall Mackey and Jaylen Walton. However, if Scott is able to break a few runs early, I think he will see a lot of the ball during the game. 
Collier: I think it will be a slow process for Jeff Scott to get back to the form everyone is used to. He will have a solid performance and possibly break a run to make his stats look better than he was. Overall, I think he gets his chances and provides another steady back in the Rebels backfield.
Miller: I think Jeff Scott has at least one long run and makes a difference in the return game. It will be interesting to see what this means for senior Randall Mackey and freshman running backs Jaylen Walton and I’Tavius Mathers. I think all the running backs will be fresher later in the game, and I would look to see Mackey play some slot and maybe some more Wildcat.
4. Which movie do you like better: Glory Road (UTEP) or Blindside (Ole Miss)?
Hipp: Glory Road. Pretty easy decision in my book. 
Sigler: Both are good movies, but I’ll go with The Blindside.
Collier: In my opinion, you have to go with Glory Road. It’s a classic story that is tough to beat. 
Miller: Glory Road. You can’t argue with seeing Adolph Rupp and Kentucky lose to the artist formerly known as Texas Western.