Ole Miss faces tough test on trip to College Station

Posted on Nov 9 2018 - 5:50am by Josh Gollihar

With the season coming to a halt off the back of two consecutive losses, Ole Miss looks to find a winning formula on the road in College Station.

Losses to Auburn and South Carolina both stung in different ways. Auburn seemed to be in control for the entirety of the game. Against the Gamecocks, however, offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s offense clicked in a way that it has not against SEC opponents in his short tenure. More than 600 yards and 44 points is an impressive performance. Diving deeper into the numbers, all but 18 of those yards and all points were tallied before the game entered the fourth quarter. Then, the offense stalled, and the defense had run out of gas.

Wide receiver Damarkus Lodge narrowly misses a pass by Jordan Ta’amu during Saturday’s military appreciation game against South Carolina. South Carolina won the game 48-44. Photo by Christian Johnson

Looking ahead to the challenge that Texas A&M offers, another tough day in the office could be ahead for the Rebels.

Texas A&M’s first year head coach Jimbo Fisher has extracted great performances from a roster that belongs to a former regime. However, he is facing a similar test as Ole Miss is with consecutive losses coming into this game. Those losses include a game where Mississippi State imposed its physical style on the Aggies to control the game, and a loss to Auburn featured a fourth-quarter collapse almost identical to Ole Miss’ form coming into this weekend’s matchup.

The Aggie offense is led by dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond. Mond has struggled this year with a 12:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a completion percentage below 60. He does make up for some of his shortcomings as a passer by running the ball. He is the Aggies’ second leading rusher with 290 yards, adding four scores on the ground. Current form has not seemed to be an issue for quarterbacks facing the Rebels, as players like Jarrett Stidham and Jake Bentley busted slumps against Ole Miss. Mond has the skill set to give the Rebel defense issues.

Texas A&M has two players on offense that can be utilized to confuse and dominate the Ole Miss defense. Running back Trayveon Williams is at 931 yards rushing on the year with 10 rushing touchdowns. He averages 5.6 yards per carry, which means that Ole Miss cannot have its normal tackling issues to muster a chance at slowing him down. Fisher deploys Williams in the passing game effectively, as well. He averages 11.7 yards per catch, adding one score through the air. This is a recipe for a highlight performance for Williams on Saturday.

Transfer tight end Jace Sternberger is Mond’s favorite target in the passing game. The 250-pound tight end leads the Aggies in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Sternberger will be at the forefront of the offensive game plan for Texas A&M against a depleted secondary and inexperienced linebacker group for Ole Miss.

Both teams are trying to fight off losing streaks while avoiding falling to 5-5 on the season. Texas A&M can clinch bowl eligibility with its win. The Ole Miss team has had a negative air sitting over the top of it with the winning record not telling the whole story to the season. The remaining three games for Ole Miss are not guaranteed wins, but a return to Oxford at 6-4 could get the season heading back in a positive direction.