After losing key starters for the season and having several players severely limited by injuries, this Ole Miss football team needed an extra week of rest and preparation.
The questions: How will they fare without their best wide receiver? What can be expected out of Ben Still, Laremy Tunsil, Cody Prewitt, Trae Elston, I'Tavius Mathers, Keith Lewis and others who have been injured? Does this team have the ability to stop a power running game?
Some extra time to prepare could potentially lead to success. It has in the past.
These are the results when Hugh Freeze has had more than one week to prepare his team since he took over in 2012. In this example, more than one week means an entire offseason, a bye week or the weeks leading up to a bowl game. This isn’t the largest sample size or all of the toughest opponents, but there is a positive trend.
That, so far, equates to 88% of games won after more than one week of preparation. What about that ugly 0-25 loss to Alabama? Yeah, that wasn't good. There were some other factors that may have contributed to the only shutout ever handed to a team coached by Freeze.
So what does this mean for this week’s matchup against Arkansas? I wrote an article a couple weeks ago about how teams were losing and appeared lethargic after playing LSU. Arkansas held LSU to 36 net rushing yards on 32 rushing attempts this past weekend, and they got their first SEC win since 2012. Lethargy likely won’t be an issue after a dominating win like that.
Arkansas is 5-5. In their five losses they averaged 169 rushing yards per game. In their five wins they averaged 303. They averaged 60 more passing yards per game in those five losses.
It seems simple enough. Stack the box to try to stop the run, and make them throw the ball. Ole Miss ranks 14th in the country in pass defense. Unfortunately, the Rebels have given up an average of 256 yards rushing in their past two SEC contests. Arkansas, well known for their commitment to running the ball with huge offensive linemen, will try to replicate the success that LSU and Auburn had against the Rebels.
Extra preparation time has led teams coached by Freeze to success in the past, and it will certainly be interesting to see if the bye week leads to success this Saturday.
By Tyler Slay @slaytyler