Parrish Alford, the Ole Miss beat writer for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, took time this week to answer a few of our questions about the Rebels as they prepare for Saturday’s game with South Carolina.
Kickoff is set for noon at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford. SEC Network will televise.
1. What’s the best way to label Ole Miss’ 5-3 record? Only one win has come over a team with a winning record.
Matt Luke right now is pumping the 5-3 mark and the possibility of a big finish. It’s true that Ole Miss at 5-3 exceeds the expectations many had for the Rebels, but how the Rebels have competed in losses to Alabama, LSU and Auburn has been a disappointment to many fans.
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It’s worth noting that Ole Miss did have a solid November finish when Luke was interim last year going 3-1 in the month. Two of the wins were on the road at Kentucky and against No. 16 Mississippi State.
2. Ole Miss coach Matt Luke had the interim tag removed last November. Eight games into this season, how are Rebel fans taking to this new era?
Reviews are mixed. There’s cautious optimism around the record for some, but others would like to have seen a clean break from all people who were on staff during the NCAA investigation.
3. The most dangerous aspect to the Ole Miss offense is ... ?
The wide receivers by far. There is talent and depth.
However, this group needs to do a better job of winning one-on-one matchups more often against the better defenders in the league. The absence of DK Metcalf right now is a big blow.
4. The Ole Miss defense has struggled so much this season because ... ?
There isn’t much talent at linebacker, and the Rebels’ best talent there is young. The secondary, thought to be the strongest position group at the beginning of the season, has been decimated by injuries.
5. It’s been 10 years since USC’s last visit to Ole Miss. What can you tell Gamecock fans about a pre-game visit to The Grove?
Arrive hungry and make friends.