There’s always been an unknown facing a team with a different staff from the previous season, but the Ole Miss Rebels face a new defensive coordinator for Texas who’s only been on the job less than a week.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and his offensive staff must prepare without any certainty of what defensive schemes they will see in Austin on Saturday.
After the Longhorns disasterous loss to BYU last Saturday, Texas head coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and replaced him with former Michigan defensive coordinator/Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson early Sunday afternoon. Robinson also spent 14 seasons as a defensive assistant and coordinator in the NFL.
Whether or not Robinson can adjust the defense he inherits is a major uncertainty, but the Ole Miss offense looks like it could give any defense a nightmare.
The Rebels spread offense has been a thing of beauty with it’s balance through two games. Junior quarterback Bo Wallace and senior Jeff Scott are effectively running the read-option with proficiency, and they will face this Longhorns defense, which BYU was able to muster over 550 yards against, the most-ever surrendered by a Texas defense in a game, in their 40-21 victory last week against the Horns. The Ole Miss offense is looking very explosive, averaging 239 rushing yards a game and the Longhorns defense is giving up around 327 yards on the ground.
Wallace has thrown for 235 yards per game, zero interceptions and two scores from the air in their two previous games against Vanderbilt and Southeast Missouri St. Backup quarterback Barry Brunetti has been the Rebels primary rusher in goal line situations scoring three rushing touchdowns. The Rebels have seen a significant production from their wide receiving group of freshmen Laquon Treadwell and tight end Evan Engram, Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan so far this season. Engram has been solid as the leading receiver as a freshman with seven catches for 131 yards this season.
The Longhorns defense will have to pick their poison against the Rebels offense. But it will be crucial for this unit to get inside the head of Wallace. A solid pass rush with Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed from the edges and Ashton Dorsey on the inside will be vital for their success defensively. If they are unable to consistently get to the Rebels signal caller, he will shred the Texas defense to pieces on Saturday. With a solid running game and down-field passing attack, the Rebels have the ability to give the Horns a taste of revenge from last season and make the situation even worse for Texas. Not that they haven’t already pressed the panic button or anything: Look at this hire this week.
With the Longhorns defense trying to swallow their horrible performance last week and playing under a new defensive coordinator, the Ole Miss offense is looking to avenge their 66-31 embarrassing loss, the most points the Rebels had allowed since 1917, to the Longhorns last season at Vaught Hemingway and start 3-0 for the season.
The nation will be watching to see how well Robinson fares against Ole Miss’s spread attack.
And to see if another huge hole gets punctured in Brown’s sinking ship in Austin.
“Coach [Nick] Saban, you have a phone call. It’s DeLoss Dodds on line one.”