GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Rebels Look To Slow Down Arkansas

Nickolas Brassell

Oct. 22, 2011

OXFORD, Miss. - Another difficult task awaits the Ole Miss Rebels, as they take on their second consecutive top-10 opponent in an SEC showdown against No. 10 Arkansas and head coach Bobby Petrino's high-powered aerial attack.  

Kickoff is slated for 11:21 a.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.  The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

After spending 10 years in Fayetteville as the Razorbacks' head coach, Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt faces his former team for the fourth time since taking over at Ole Miss, holding a 2-1 record.  

Arkansas holds a 30-26-1 advantage in a series that dates back to 1908 and has seen games played in six different cities.  Ole Miss is 6-3 in games played between the two in Oxford.  The Razorbacks are 11-8 against the Rebels since joining the SEC in 1992.

Junior quarterback Tyler Wilson leads one of the nation's most potent offenses into Oxford.  The Razorbacks rank eighth nationally in passing offense, averaging 336.8 yards per-game through the air.  Wilson is completing 64.9 percent of his passes and has thrown for 1,779 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first year as the starting signal-caller.  

"I think we are facing the best quarterback in the SEC in Tyler Wilson," said Nutt.  "He is an excellent quarterback and is very accurate.  He can throw every ball and has excellent receivers."

That group of receivers is led by the dynamic senior trio of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams, and Greg Childs.  Wright, the SEC's leading receiver, has accounted for 554 yards and six touchdowns on 33 receptions.  

A banged-up Ole Miss defense will be called upon to slow down Wilson and the Razorback attack.  The Rebels lost two senior starters for the season against Alabama last week, in defensive end Wayne Dorsey and cornerback Marcus Temple.  Dorsey was among the SEC's leaders in sacks, while Temple was the top cover man for the Rebels and had picked off two passes this season.

"We will miss those guys because they were great leaders for us. Wayne and Marcus were playing their best football.  Marcus was playing the secondary better than he had his whole career. That hurts."

Gerald Rivers, Kentrell Lockett, and C.J. Johnson will all be expected to step up in Dorsey's absence.  Defensive tackle Uriah Grant may also see action at end.

True freshman Senquez Golson is expected to get the start at cornerback in Temple's place.  Two-way player Nickolas Brassell saw increased action at cornerback last week in addition to his usual duties at wide receiver.  The freshman posted a career-high five tackles in limited time on defense.  Safety Charles Sawyer, who ranks sixth in the nation in interceptions, may periodically move to his old position on the corner, as well.  

"It helps that they will play this weekend, especially Brandon Bolden," said Nutt.  "That gives us a lift."

Bolden, along with starting running back Jeff Scott, have accounted for eight of the Rebels' 12 offensive touchdowns this season.  Scott is averaging 4.8 yards per-carry and has rushed for six touchdowns and returned a punt for a score, as well.  The Rebels are 0-4 when they fail to rush for 100 yards in a game.

Last week, the Rebels saw the emergence of a potential star in speedy freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell.  Brassell became the first Ole Miss receiver to post a 100-yard game this season, amassing 101 yards on four catches.   

Special teams could play a major factor, as two of the nation's best punt returners will be featured in Ole Miss' Scott and Arkansas' Adams.  Scott ranks third in the nation in punt returns with a 20.1-yard average, while Adams ranks seventh at 18.1 yards.

For Nutt, getting his young team to execute and keep mistakes to a minimum will be the key. 

"The way we played the first half of the Alabama game is a positive," said Nutt.  "There have been a few bright spots when we execute and play hard on offense, defense and special teams.  When we do that we look like a football team. A lot of young people are playing hard and making a lot of plays for us. To me that is what gives you hope."

New for fans in 2011 is the "Rebel Fanfare," sponsored by Baptist Hospital of North Mississippi. It opens three hours prior to kickoff and is located off All-American Drive, across the street from the Starnes Center. Admission is free for all ages. "Rebel Fanfare" includes inflatables, interactive games for kids, food vendors and the pre-game radio show which begins two hours prior to kickoff. It will also feature appearances by former players, cheerleaders, Rebelettes and Rebel.

Rebel fans will have a chance to meet the Ole Miss men's basketball team today prior to the game.  The team will be signing autographs and handing out posters and schedule cards from 9:45-10:45 a.m. at the Rebel Fanfare.

Visit for all the information you need about Ole Miss gamedays this fall, and follow @RebelGameday on Twitter for the most up-to-date news and info each Saturday.

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