Ole Miss Rush Offense vs. Rush Defense for Texas A&M Football
As many Texas A&M football fans remember, it was the rushing attack for the Rebels that really tore the Aggies to shreds in last year’s matchup. Take a look at these statistics:
- 63 carries
- 390 yards
- 6.19 YPC
That’s pretty painful. Impressively, though, Texas A&M football somehow only gave up one touchdown on the ground in that game. Since that point, the Aggies have done a complete 180 when it comes to rushing defense and are now one of the top units at defending the run in the country. The Aggies are 9th in the nation and 1st in the SEC in yards per carry allowed this year and have given up only 2 touchdowns on the ground in 8 games. That may end up being pretty key in this matchup; Ole Miss has scored the majority of their points in conference games via the run (3 rushing TDs vs. LSU, 2 vs Arkansas, 3 vs Auburn, and 3 vs Vanderbilt). If the Aggies play to their potential on defense—and it seems as though this defense is locked in enough to where that would be a good proposition—it will be tough sledding for the Rebel rushing attack.
The Rebs overall boast a decent rushing attack, averaging 0.186 PPA/rush for the season. For comparison, the Tennessee Volunteers (the best team the Aggies have faced by this metric) average 0.223 PPA/rush this year. According to this measure, this is the second-best rushing attack the Aggies will have faced this year. Relative to their opponents, though, the Rebels have had trouble staying consistent in their ground attack, notching on average 12% below what their foes average in rushing success rate allowed. That’s second worst in the conference, ahead of only Vanderbilt. If the Ags can knock Ole Miss off schedule on the ground and stay disciplined through the air, I feel good about the defense.
There’s another piece here that should be mentioned, and it is Kiffin’s dogged determination to follow the analytics when it comes to fourth down decisions. How that plays out is an aggressive decision making process as regards whether or not the Rebels are going for it, especially in opponent territory. We’ve seen this jump up and bite him, as in the 2021 matchup, but also help his team in many instances. The Rebs are not a stellar third down team (36% for the season, 10th in the conference), so it is likely that we see several short-yardage inflection points in this game. This is a front that is hard to move in those situations, but Kiffin has no shortage of trickeration up his sleeve, so how those play out will be massive when it comes to the result here.