The Rebels rushed for 207.6 yards per game last year, which was third in the SEC. With all the question marks on offense, look for Ole Miss to try the ground game constantly as it looks to overpower the Cougar front.
BYU improved drastically with its run defense throughout the course of last season. It will face a stiff challenge given the brutal heat coupled with a very experienced Rebel offensive front.
Should the Cougars be able to hold the Rebels to under 200 yards rushing, it will go a long way in securing a win. If Ole Miss is able to control the clock while going for 200-plus yards, the game will likely go the other way.
BYU pass defense vs. Ole Miss
There are some questions with the Cougar secondary entering the season. It will be replacing three of its starters from a season ago.
The secondary is coming off of a successful fall camp that saw senior Corby Eason, 5-8, 173, and junior college transfer Preston Hadley, 6-0, 200, win the other starting spot on the boundary side.
Overall, the Cougar pass defense was stingier than normal in giving up 192,2 yards per game last season.
Meanwhile, the Rebels' passing game has a lot of question marks. Their quarterback position is hardly secure, with Barry Brunetti, 6-0, 215, being named as a tenuous starter by head coach Houston Nutt, who mentioned that he will use Zack Stoudt, 6-4, 217, as well.
At receiver, they’ll feature true freshman and prized recruit Donte Moncrief, 6-2, 217, sophomore Je-Mes Logan, 6-2, 190, and another true freshman in Tobias Singleton, 6-0, 193.
Ole Miss threw for just 192.2 yards per game last season, and it will be hard-pressed to eclipse 200 yards on Saturday. With two new quarterbacks and a lot of inexperience at wideout, the Cougars should be able to hold the Rebel passing game in check.
The worry is in over-the-top passes for big gains with effective use of play-action in this game. With the Rebels looking to pound the ball away on the ground, the Cougar secondary needs to remain watchful in defending against big-gainers.
“They have a lot of athletes on offense,” said Frazier. “It’s the SEC, so there are always good athletes there. It’s very important that we don’t allow them any big plays, and we need to watch for play-action continually.”
This game will be closer than most BYU fans expect. The heat, atmosphere and the athletes that Ole Miss will present on Saturday will pose a unique challenge for a Cougar team in unfamiliar environs.
It’s difficult to think that Ole Miss will account for many long scoring drives, but it will be the big plays that will keep it in the ballgame. BYU shouldn’t have trouble mounting an effective offensive attack that should let it drive the ball consistently.
Final score prediction: BYU 24, Ole Miss 20.
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