We’re nothing if not objective. So I guess that means we’re nothing. But we tried our best as we asked a few questions of One Man to Beat from the Ole Mill Rebels SB Nation site, Red Cup Rebellion, ahead of their matchup against Texas A&M.
Obviously Ole Miss has gotten off to a fantastic start to the season. What’s the feeling of the fanbase after the season’s first loss at the hands of LSU last week?
I think there is some necessary anger toward the defensive coordinators as the last two games have really exposed a defense that has bad depth and is dealing with injuries. LSU is a huge rival, and I would dare say some Rebel fans hate them even more than Mississippi State. It is frustrating to be off to a 7-0 start for the second time in a decade and have the swamp coonass contingent enjoy an upset in Baton Rouge. That being said, the big question for most fans is, “how will this team react to a loss?” and if they can’t get off the mat, there may not be any more wins left on the schedule until the Egg Bowl.
I think most Aggies know who Zach Evans and Jaxson Dart are, but who are the other playmakers on offense we should know?
Quinshon Judkins is a freshman running back with 13 total touchdowns and more than 800 yards rushing this season. He is quite possibly the best freshman RB in the history of the program. Malik Heath is a transfer WR from Mississippi State who just posted a career high at LSU in receiving yards. If he plays and is healthy, he and Jonathan Mingo will be the two most targeted receivers. Mingo is a big bodied receiver whose hands are average but can be a big play threat.
Was the pivot from a high passing volume offense to a run-heavy offense as surprising to y’all as it was the rest of us?
Not really, it was a part of our preview for the season that the rushing attack would have to lead the way this year. Most of that had to do with the quarterback position and replacing Matt Corral. Plus there had been rumblings about just a stacked RB room this season, and if there is one thing I think the whole conference has learned - it is Lane Kiffin goes with whatever works best on offense. If that means throwing it 40 times, do it, and if it means using three running backs, a lot of RPO and a mobile QB to get 300 rushing yards per game, so be it.
I know after the way y’all befuddled our offense last year, we’re all happy to have DJ Durkin on our side this time. What has the defense looked like this season?
Early on, I think fans were looking at a defense that could have even improved over Durkin’s from last season. A shutout of Georgia Tech in Atlanta in a 42-0 blowout was just really an impressive effort for this squad. But, ever since the Kentucky win, the defense seems to have lost some of the tackling effort, intensity and focus. Part of it is dealing with injuries to Troy Brown and AJ Finley who are both reportedly going to “give it a go” on Saturday, but this is not super comforting.
If forced to choose, which mascot do you prefer? Colonel Reb, Rebel Black Bear or Tony the Landshark?
I would be fine if we didn’t even have a mascot, so in my opinion, its up to whoever my kids like the best. There’s still a group that dresses up as Colonel Reb and my kids think its funny to see him but have never asked to get their picture taken or go see him. They always want to go see the shark, and they did not like the bear at all. So... eh, I’d be fine if we just made Juice Kiffin the mascot as long as Lane is the coach.
I have major concerns about this team’s ability to fight through the biggest adversity of the season, it’s first loss. The Rebels play best when they are in the lead generally, so if Ole Miss can’t get out to an early lead, it could be an excruciating trip to College Station. I would of course still pick Ole Miss if you just had to know, but my confidence level on a scale of 1-10 is about a three right now.