Know Your Opponent: Quick-Scouting Ole Miss

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    Tennessee travels to Oxford this weekend to face the third-ranked Rebels at 7:oo in Vaught-Hemingway  Stadium. The Rebels are coming off of impressive back-to-back wins over Alabama and Texas A&M while Tennessee looked slightly underwhelming in their 45-10 victory over UTC.

    This KYO will look at Ole Miss’ game against Alabama two weeks ago. Bo Wallace led the Rebels to a 23-17 win with 251 passing yards and three touchdown passes. Here are some plays that stood out for Ole Miss in the win, and things that Tennessee will need to be aware of in this weekend’s game:

    *Times listed correspond to the time of the video, not game time.*

    :28: Tennessee simply cannot afford Ole Miss to use special teams to flip the field this week. Expect the staff to have Aaron Medley try to put every kick through the back of the end zone if he can. Mark Dodson is a Memphis-native who would love nothing more than to take one the distance against the Vols this week, so Tennessee will need to keep it out of his hands if at all possible.

    1:25: Tennessee has given up a few plays this season to quarterbacks on designed runs. Bo Wallace isn’t Fredi Knighten, or even Jeff Driskel, but he is fast and physical enough to cause Tennessee some problems in this game. Ole Miss is a good – not great – running team and a lot of what they do involves Bo Wallace. Tennessee will need to stay disciplined when Ole Miss runs Wallace.

    3:10: Look at how fast the Ole Miss defense swarms to the football here. The horizontal passing game hasn’t exactly been kind to Tennessee this year, but the Vols will likely have to rely on it if the offensive line struggles against the Rebel front seven. Receivers will have to block well for each other on the perimeter and probably break some tackles if plays like this are going to have any success.

    4:07: This is basically an extended handoff to the running back. Hugh Freeze likes to use plays like this to get their running backs in space. A.J. Johnson and Jalen Reeves-Maybin will need to continue their sure-tackling or else plays like this could prove to be huge for Ole Miss. I expect Ole Miss to use a lot of plays like this to try and stretch Tennessee’s defense wide and hope that their guys can make Vol defenders miss.

    4:30: This is the third play in a row that Ole Miss has used horizontal motion either before or at the snap to test Alabama’s defensive discipline. Here, the Rebels are working uptempo and catch Alabama flat-footed and confused (the 11th defender thinks he is the 12th and is seen running off the field) at the snap of the ball. Wallace sees the hole and ducks his head for a 14-yard gain.

    4:42: Same extended handoff, same result.

    4:49: Not much you can do as a defensive back when the quarterback can put the ball in this spot. Great throw by Bo Wallace.

    7:01: The Rebels drop eight players into coverage and are still able to force Sims out of the pocket with a three-man rush. If they are able to do this against Tennessee then it will be an extremely long night for the Vols in Oxford. Ole Miss is very versatile in their blitz-packages, but also know when and how to use them effectively.

    8:31: Another back-shoulder throw, this time to Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is one of the best receivers in the country and will be a tall task for whatever defensive back he is lined up across from. He is big, fast and extremely physical in how he plays the game.

    11:00: Quick throw to the receiver here who gets excellent blocking by his teammates to spring him for a nice game. This is a play that Ole Miss will run based on coverage alone. If a player’s defender isn’t within seven yards at the snap of the ball, then Wallace will immediately fire the ball to him as soon as he gets the snap. Here, the Bama defensive back splits the difference between the inside and middle receiver and Wallace knows he has an easy throw.

    17:49: The play ends up as an incompletion, but look at how much time Bo Wallace buys by moving around in the pocket. This puts a ton of pressure on defensive backs because it forces them to have to cover the initial route and then the ‘scramble’ route once the receivers realize that the play is still going on. Wallace has a guy open for a first down here, but the pass is dropped.

    19:54: Another three-man rush by Ole Miss that is able to force Sims to get rid of the ball before he wants to. The Rebels’ coverage downfield is outstanding and Sims forces a throw off his back foot towards the sideline that falls incomplete.

    20:02: When facing a team with a strong pass rush, calling screens is generally seen as a great way to catch the defense out of position and prevent them from teeing off on every snap. Alabama calls a screen on this play and Ole Miss absolutely destroys it.

    20:23: You can’t throw this ball any better than Wallace does right here. He puts it on a rope and splits the coverage to the tight end – yes, that guy is a tight end – and Ole Miss flips the field in one play. Todd Kelly Jr. or Brian Randolph will likely draw the coverage assignment for the TE on most plays, so this is a look that they will have to prepare for.

    20:42: Treadwell doing Treadwell things after another perfectly placed back-shoulder throw by Wallace.

    23:00: If Worley can get some time, there may be some opportunities to hit plays down the seam to tight ends or slot receivers like the one you see here. Ethan Wolf or Daniel Helm may need to be kept in to provide extra help in pass protection, but don’t be surprised if Bajakian tries to sneak somebody out on a route similar to this at some point. It isn’t a play that you can run very often, but it could be available for a big play or two in this one…again, IF they can protect Worley.

    25:06: Another Bo keeper. They love this play on 3rd and three-to-six yards.

    25:20: This is Ole Miss’ bulldozer package. That’s all 6’3, 296 pounds of tight end Jeremy Liggins lined up in the wildcat formation. If the Rebels need a yard, expect this guy to get the carry.

    26:06: It’s a smaller stadium, but things can get loud from time to time in Vaught-Hemingway. Communication among the offensive line and quarterbacks will be…sigh…critical for Tennessee in this game.

    27:12: Ole Miss sends a corner blitz at Blake Sims on 2nd and four here. Sims is able to escape the pressure and avoid a huge loss by throwing an incompletion. If Ole Miss sends this against Tennessee and Worley isn’t prepared, then this play would be catastrophic for the Vols. There is just no way that Worley can make the cornerback miss like Sims does here.

    28:12: What a big-time throw by Wallace right here. It’s crunch time, the game is on the line, he knows he is going to take a big hit, but he hangs in the pocket to deliver a strike for the first down. This is an NFL throw.

    28:28: Another absolute dime by Wallace. This one is dropped, but you can see how accurate he is with the football when he’s in the zone.

    30:18: Wow…Great outside stick move by the receiver to get the cornerback off balance and then Wallace throws a perfect pass, in stride, to his receiver over top of the safety. Not much else to say about this play…It was perfection.

    34:04: Another back-shoulder throw to Treadwell.

    34:30: Wallace is en fuego at this point. I’m surprised there wasn’t a smoke-trail coming off of the football. Ole Miss sneaks the running back out on a wheel route, but keeps the corner close to the line of scrimmage with the fake screen that Treadwell runs. Wallace sees that the running back has a step on the linebacker and hits him for the go-ahead score.

    39:30: Ball Game.