Florida Gators versus Ole Miss Rebels Breakdown
Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Last meeting: 2008 Ole Miss Defeated Florida 31-30 in Gainesville.
Last time out:
• Florida defeated Tennessee 28-27
• Ole Miss defeated Vanderbilt 27-16
Meet the Rebels:
• Head Coach: Hugh Freeze (28-15 in his 4th season at Ole Miss)
• Conference: Southeastern Conference Western Division
• 2015 Overall Record: 4-0
• 2015 Conference Record: 2-0
• Rank: AP Poll: #3/ Coaches Poll: #5
Player(s) to Watch:
• Junior Quarterback Chad Kelly. Kelly has completed 61% of his passes on the year for 1,219 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
• Junior Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche. The All-American Nkemdiche has recorded 15 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss. Nkemdiche has also recorded 3 touchdowns on offense.
5 Things to Know About Ole Miss:
1. Ole Miss ranks second nationally in scoring offense with 54.8 points per game.
2. The Rebels’ No. 3 ranking in the AP poll matches their best ranking since 1964.
3. Ole Miss leads the SEC in fourth-down percentage defense at 20%
4. Ole Miss has started 4-0 in consecutive years for the first time since 1961-62.
5. The Ole Miss defense leads the SEC with 10 turnovers forced and seven interceptions.
5 Things to Pay Attention To:
1. Florida Offensive Line Improvement. Florida will be up against its toughest challenge to date. At times they struggled against Kentucky and Tennessee, but took positive steps to becoming a solid line in the SEC. They will need it this week against Robert Nkemdiche.
2. Flu Bug Effects. This week Florida had nine players go down with the flu, and had several more feel the effects later on in the week. Don’t be surprised if a player or two’s performance or playing time is not as expected because of this. Florida has not released who those nine players are, but McElwain did say this week there were some significant players effected.
3. Red Zone Improvement. For the better part of this year, Florida has had a tough time in the red zone, last week they made great strides going 3-3 with 3 touchdowns. This week against Ole Miss those numbers could be in trouble.
4. Robert Nkemdiche on Offense. This year Nkemdiche has scored three touchdowns, one in the air and two on the ground. Nkemdiche is a phenomenal athlete that Florida will need to account for on offense in addition to his ability to dominate on defense.
5. Florida Sustaining Momentum. In three of the Gators first four games, they have been the first to score leading to early momentum. Against Kentucky and Tennessee they gave that away with inconsistent play and inability to sustain drives. For the Gators to upset Ole Miss, they will need to sustain the momentum they gain and play a solid four quarters.
5 Things to Expect:
1. A Believing and Confident Florida. Coming off of a 4th quarter comeback against Tennessee, the Gators are sure to be confident, especially playing in the Swamp. Florida will need to guard against a lackluster start that tends to happen after emotional wins. The Gators will not back down from Ole Miss and enter Saturday night believing they can win.
2. A Focused Ole Miss. While Florida is coming off an emotional win against Tennessee, last week the Rebels followed up their upset at Alabama with a letdown win against Vanderbilt. Expect Ole Miss to come out with high energy and focus.
3. A Very Physical Game. These are two of the more explosive and physical defenses in the SEC. Expect some heads to knock on Saturday as both teams try to set a physical tone early in the game. This will not be a game for the fearful and afraid.
4. Ole Miss to be effected by the Environment. This might surprise a few because of their performance in Tuscaloosa, but playing on the road as the underdog is a totally different animal than playing on the road as the favorite. Florida will put pressure on the Rebels and this game will go a long way to showing the nation if they are a legitimate playoff contender.
5. Another Momentum Roller Coaster Night. I expect another hard fought battle in the Swamp. Both teams are playing for respect and still looking for something to prove. Whoever can survive the next blow from the other will come out on top.
5 Keys to Victory:
1. Limit the Explosives. Chad Kelly is averaging 17 yards a completion. Florida will need to limit the Rebels explosive plays in the passing game and depend on the front four to control the running game. If big plays are a norm for the Rebels, the Gators are in for a very long night.
2. Stay Respectably Balanced. Against Tennessee Kelvin Taylor carried 19 times for 102 yards, though it was a dominant performance, it was enough to keep the Vols honest. Taylor will need the same type of performance to pull off the shocker in the Swamp.
3. Win Situational Football (Red Zone, 3rd AND 4th downs). Florida has been extremely inconsistent in situational football through four games. They have developed a flare for the dramatic, but depending on 4th down to make big plays is typically not a good strategy. Florida will need to improve quickly against the toughest defense they will have faced this year. The Gators success in the red zone last week (3-3 3 touchdowns) was key in the comeback victory.
4. Make the Rebels Earn It. Ole Miss leads the SEC with ten takeaways, five of those coming against Alabama that led to 24 points. The Gators cannot give the Rebels the short field and the defense will need to force Ole Miss to sustain drives by tackling well and keep plays in front of them.
5. Make Ole Miss Predictable. Ole Miss does not have a dominant run game, but it is enough to keep teams honest. Last week the shifty Jaylon Walton rushed for 133 yards with 215 all-purpose yards. Florida will need to pay attention to Walton because he is capable of breaking off big game changing runs. Forcing Kelly to throw against the Gator secondary in long yardage situations will favor Florida.
5 Signs It Was a Good Day:
1. Florida DB’s Consistently Win One on One Battles. Ole Miss will attempt to get their receivers in one on one situations against the Florida secondary. If Florida is winning the majority of these battles, the Gators are putting a major road block in the way for the Ole Miss offense.
2. Florida WINS Special Teams And Turnovers. Ole Miss is the more established and proven team at this point in the season. They will play with confidence on both sides of the ball. Florida will need a special teams play or turnover to turn the game in their favor. Last week Bryan Cox, Jr. fumble recovery was an overlooked play that sparked the Gators comeback, they will probably need something like that this week to win.
3. Florida Is Better Than Last Week On 3rd Downs. As great as the 4th down success was last week. The 3rd down troubles, is a concern. Last week Florida was 3-15. If Florida can get that closer to and above 50%, Florida will have a chance to win the game.
4. Robert Nkemdiche Is Not Dominant. If Nkemdiche is silent, that is a good thing. Florida will need to find a way to make him an inconsistent factor in the game. He will make plays in the game, but the Gators will need find ways to not allow him to control the game.
5. The Offense is Still Clutch. Ole Miss will put Will Grier and the offense in challenging situations again, if the Gators find ANOTHER way to overcome those moments, the Gators walk away with victory on Saturday night.
The Prediction: Florida 23 Ole Miss 21
Maybe I am wearing orange and blue glasses but I like the Florida matchup against Ole Miss. The Florida secondary will do enough to limit big plays and the defense will come up with a play late in the game to spring the upset. Ole Miss will come out hot but the Florida Gators football team will fight through it and the offense will do enough to shock the nation. The energy from the crowd will again play a big part on Saturday night.