GAMEDAY: Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Nov. 19, 2016


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By Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Last week’s win at No. 8 Texas A&M gave Ole Miss a surge of optimism after what has been a difficult season. The Rebels will look to continue that momentum while also locking up bowl eligibility against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Ole Miss able to pull off the upset win in College Station due in large part to freshman quarterback Shea Patterson’s performance in his first career start. He showed poise beyond his years leading the Rebels’ furious fourth quarter comeback. Freshmen, in general, led the charge for Ole Miss against the Aggies, with big performances coming from Benito Jones, Deontay Anderson, and Greg Little, just to name a few.

“They have been in the fire, for sure,” Freeze said. “They haven't experienced the other side of the fire like they did Saturday night. There's nothing that builds their confidence more than a night like that, particularly for young kids.”

Now, the attention moves to Vanderbilt. The Commodores present a different challenge than the one A&M did last week in the always difficult SEC. 

“(Derek Mason) knows what he’s doing defensively, and offensively they are getting better so it’s definitely not an easy out,” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. “It never is in this league, but playing a team like coach Mason’s is always difficult for us.”

Vanderbilt’s offense is led by workhorse running back Ralph Webb. Webb presents a challenge to the Ole Miss defense, as he ranks fourth in the conference in rushing yards and fifth in yards after contact.

“We've faced some really good backs this year and he's another one that you put right in that category,” Freeze said. “He has tremendous balance, he finishes runs, elusive, speed, he's got it all. If you give him a crease, we'll be struggling like we have against some of the others. The goal will be to fit every gap so tight that he has a hard time getting through creases without resistance.”

Like any Derek Mason team, Vanderbilt is extremely disciplined on defense. Ole Miss has to make sure to account for linebacker Zach Cunningham every play or he’ll stop plays before they get started.

“He's a very good defensive coach and his kids play fundamentally extremely well,” Freeze said. “They play in the right spots. They're fundamentally sound. So, you've got to be careful against them not to get one play behind in the calls.”

Ole Miss and Vanderbilt kick off on SEC Network at 7 p.m. The Rebels have won the last three games in the series.

 

 

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