Maroon Madness recently had the pleasure of speaking with this weekend’s Opponent Blogger, Dave Bevan, the founder and Editor-In-Chief of OleRebelBlog.com, about the upcoming matchup between the Aggies and the Ole Miss Rebels. We exchanged our expert opinions on what Aggie and Ole Miss fans can expect to see Saturday when the two teams kickoff, and Dave provided valuable insight into his Ole Miss Rebels and the upcoming game.
OleRebelBlog.com is fairly new to the Ole Miss community, as it was just established in February of this year. The site covers Ole Miss football, basketball, baseball, and recruiting news. The site has also recently added a forum section for Rebel fans to banter about Ole Miss-related topics. Dave, originally from the Delta of Mississippi, has lived in the Oxford area off and on over the years. He currently resides in Alabama. He says he built his site out of “pure obsession for both his Ole Miss Rebels and writing.” What was once a solo project now features a list of established writers. Dave is currently focused on growing OleRebelBlog.com. Over the next year, his plan is to have the Ole Rebel Blog site become widely known amongst the Rebel community. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @olerebelblog.
1) Ole Miss has lost two very disappointing games it intended to win. How hard will it be for the team to get back “up” for this game?
The past two weeks have been hard to stomach. It is never easy to come out successfully in two tough back-to-back SEC road games. The loss to Alabama was not something that was unexpected, but it was shocking that it was a shutout. No one expected that; you can say the same for Alabama fans.
The loss to Auburn was one of those losses that should not have happened. The Rebels were given too many opportunities to put the game away, but failed to execute on offense when they needed to. Now, the team is going to have to shake those two losses off their shoulders and look forward to the next game. The biggest advantage that they will have now is home field advantage for six straight games.
2) Ole Miss has some heralded recruits, with most people recognizing the recent class as one of the top 5 in the nation. Many of them have had substantial playing time. How do you feel they have done so far this season?
This new talent is every bit what they were hyped up to be. Laquon Treadwell has really stood out this season. His very first collegiate catch (against Vanderbilt) was something you’re only used to seeing in the NFL. Tony Conner has been an impact player on defense. His talent is something we were truly desperate for in our secondary. Tight End Evan Engram has been the big surprise. When he came onto the scene, no one was expecting the talent that he has shown so far this season. Now he has shown he can create mismatches and make clutch catches down field, thus making him a feared tight end in the SEC. Robert Nkemdiche has shown he is the number one overall player he was expected be, especially in the Vandy and Texas games. However, I do not believe he has shown us all that he is truly capable of yet. Is he the next Jadeveon Clowney? We have at least two more seasons after this year to determine that.
3) With respect to the freshmen on the team, it’s hard to believe they have only played one collegiate game at home in Vaught-Hemingway. How difficult do you think it has been for them to have four of their first five games on the road?
It has been very difficult, but I believe it will only make them tougher. In my opinion, and I mentioned this in an article, the loss to Auburn came, in part, due to the nerves of our young team. Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram did not have a good night in that game. There were a total of six dropped passes by our receivers, four of which would have resulted in a first down or more. Austin Golson and Laremy Tunsil (#1 OT recruit in 2013) also did not have a good night. The offensive line allowed Wallace to get sacked seven times. They are going to make mistakes, especially during their first year. That is just how it goes.
4) Last week against Auburn, there appeared to be some confusion between QB Bo Wallace and his receivers, possibly because the team had changed signals after the Alabama game. Do you think they have solved this problem and how do you feel the receivers will do against A&M?
This miscommunication was not just between Wallace and the freshmen. Vince Sanders and Donte Moncrief also had problems with the communication. The drive when we were backed up on our own goal in the 4th quarter was unbearable to watch. It is possible that after the Siskey controversy (whether it was true or not), Freeze and his staff felt as if they needed to go back to the drawing boards and change things up. Being able to prepare yourself as team in just a week is the challenging part. Having another week to learn the new signals will make it much easier to prepare for Texas A&M.
5) Johnny Manziel is probably the hardest player in football to bring down. What do you think the Rebel defense needs to do in order to slow him down?
The Rebels are going to have to be effective on the pass rush. Johnny Manziel is the type of player that the majority of our young talent on defense has not yet experienced. What makes Manziel such a talented player is his ability to scramble around the pass rush.
6) What are some advantages you see that each team has in this game?
It is simple to say for Texas A&M. The Aggies’ biggest advantages are Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans. What these two did against Alabama makes it scary to think about going into this weekend’s game. My biggest concern is our secondary not being able to stop Evans and the rest of the talented Aggie receivers.
As far as the Rebels, it is very comforting to be back home. These players are ready for the majority of the crowd to be behind them. During the Alabama game on Ole Miss drives, you could not heard a missile explode, much less a quarterback audible.
7) What player on the Ole Miss team, that Aggie fans might not be aware of, could impact the game?
Tony Conner is a very talented safety who has made a huge impact this season. I believe he can give the Aggie receivers a hard time downfield.
8) How do you expect Ole Miss to attack the Aggies’ defense?
Texas A&M comes into this game as just a six point favorite, and I think this is the reason why. The defense is allowing an average of 477 yards of total offense per game. I expect our receivers to get the kinks worked out from the Auburn game. Last week, you saw the loss of trust in the run game against Auburn. We are going to have to bring the run back into this game.
9) Last year, the Rebels almost defeated A&M in Oxford. If it weren’t for some last minute heroics by Johnny Manziel, Ole Miss would have won the game. What do you predict the outcome will be in this year’s game?
I believe the game has the potential to be just as close as it was last year. It could come down to the final minutes on the final drive by either team. Considering both teams are known for their offensive talent, I think it could be a shootout. My prediction for the game is it will be decided in the 4th quarter like last year. I am choosing Ole Miss to win this one by a field goal, based on home field advantage and the fact that our players are hungry for a win. Ole Miss wins 31-28.
Here are ways to follow Dave Bevan and OleRebelBlog.com:
Many thanks to Dave for sharing and exchanging thoughts on Saturday’s game in Oxford. If you’d like to read my thoughts on the game, head over to the Ole Rebel Blog or click here and check it out!