Ole Miss looking to capitalize on opportunities against Auburn

Posted on Oct 18 2018 - 5:50am by Flint Christian

Last Saturday’s late-game comeback against Arkansas provided a spark of momentum to the Ole Miss football team. When the Rebels play Auburn on Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, they have the chance to reach multiple milestones with a victory.

A win on Saturday would give Ole Miss a three-game winning streak, its first since 2015 when the Rebels won the Sugar Bowl. A win would also put the Rebels at a 6-2 record, which would ensure they avoid a losing record and move them further up the standings of a crowded middle-tier in the SEC West.

Running back Eric Swinney gets tackled by Louisiana Monroe defenders during the homecoming game versus ULM earlier this season. The football team won their homecoming game 70-21 and broke the school record for total offensive yards. File photo by Christian Johnson

While the weekend provides many opportunities, head coach Matt Luke continued to emphasize the one-game-at-a-time mentality he has preached this season. However, he did note the momentum that a win could bring to the team.

“It would be a huge win because it’s the next one,” Luke said. “But, going into an open date 6-2, it would be a lot of momentum.”

Junior defensive end Josiah Coatney acknowledged the positive impact of the past two games, especially the Rebels’ victory in Little Rock last week.

“Anytime you win back-to-back games (is crucial), especially just winning one on the road, just sensing some momentum” he said. “So that the last part of the season, we’re just trying to put everything together and get the best record possible.”  

Ole Miss players have also adopted the coaching staff’s mentality of focusing on one game at a time. Coatney looks at Saturday as an opportunity to add another win to the season.

“As a team, we’re just getting ready to prepare for this game as hard as possible.”  Coatney said. “We’re not looking to the future and the open date, but we’re looking to this game right here and giving everything we’ve got.”

A little more than halfway through the season, the Rebels have also faced injury attrition, most notably wide receiver D.K. Metcalf’s season-ending neck injury suffered on Saturday. Sophomore wide receiver Braylon Sanders will step into the starting role this weekend, and he noted the importance of going out and performing in a brighter spotlight, especially with lots at stake on Saturday.

“I always have the next-man-up mentality, so I just have to step up,” Sanders said. “I have big shoes to fill.”

Coatney reaffirmed Sanders’ statement.

“That’s our game plan,” he said. “We always focus on anyone, the next man up or the last man up, so we’re definitely anticipating anybody playing and (we have) a gameplan for everybody.”

Luke discussed the challenges the Rebels will face against a talented Auburn team. The Tigers will be looking to avoid a three-game losing streak, and they have shown their potential in the SEC West with a one-point loss to No. 5 LSU and a 34-3 win over Arkansas.

“They’ve had an opportunity to win every game they’ve played. They have an elite defense” Luke said. “They are a very, very good football team and capable of beating anybody in the country.”

Kickoff on Saturday will be at 11 a.m.

“From the program, I don’t think the fans like (the early kick), so I don’t like it,” Luke said.