Rebels Plan to Continue Ground Attack Against Stacked Mizzou Defense

Adam Brown
Sports Editor
adam.brown@hottytoddy.com

John Rhys Plumlee rushed for 165 yards against the Commodores and passed for 99. Photo by Joshua McCoy / Ole Miss Athletics.

The Ole Miss Rebels hit the road this weekend as they travel to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

“(Missouri) is a very good football team,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “It’ll be a tough challenge going on the road. It’s the only stadium I haven’t played yet, so looking forward to it.”

Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 SEC) defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 31-6 last week for homecoming. The Rebels opened the floodgates on the run game, tallying 413 yards on the ground.

Freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee made his second straight start for the Rebels after the injured Matt Corral bruised his ribs against the California Golden Bears. Luke and his staff did not reveal which QB would make the start against the Tigers on Saturday. 

“Matt continues to get better and better. He and John Rhys both split reps pretty much the whole time,” Luke said. “They are so different because they have totally different skill sets, so it is good to have both of these guys ready and have teams prepare for both of them.”

Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC) is coming into their homecoming game with four-straight wins after dropping the season opener to Wyoming. The Tigers are averaging 457 yards of total offense per game, with 264 coming through the air and 193 yards per game on the ground. Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant has led the Mizzou offense through the first five games of the season. Bryant has completed 64.8 percent of his passes on the season for 1,246 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is third in the SEC in ‘points responsible for’ with 72. Missouri’s receiving corps has seen 12 different Tigers haul in at least one catch on the season.  

The Rebels will face a challenge going up against redshirt junior Albert Okwuegbunam at tight end. He has recorded receptions for 180 yards and five touchdowns.

“Any time that you have a good tight end it is tough. It can put a team in a bind because of the run threat,” Luke said. “They do a good job of using him and we will have our eyes right and the communication has to be good.”

The rest of the Mizzou defense will present a challenge for the Rebels, too. Linebacker Cale Garrett, who was injured in the Tigers’ last game versus Troy, is No. 1 in the SEC with 8.4 tackles per game, while defensive lineman Kobie Whiteside leads the SEC with 1.0 sacks per game. Garrett also leads a ball-hawking Mizzou defense with three interceptions. 

Missouri’s last five opponents have only averaged 88.8 yards against the defense. 

This game will be the eighth all-time meeting in this series and the second as conference foes. Last time Ole Miss and Missouri played in Columbia was in 2006. The Tigers hold a 6-1 advantage in the series. The Rebels’ lone 10-0 victory was in 1974.

Fans can watch all the action on ESPN2 or listen to the call on the Ole Miss Radio Network.


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