Oxford, MS (SportsNetwork.com) – The 12th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels will take a
break from their treacherous SEC schedule on Saturday afternoon, as they play
host to the Presbyterian Blue Hose.
Presbyterian has experienced an up-and-down season in the FCS’ Big South
Conference, as it sits at 5-4 overall and 2-2 in league play. The Blue Hose
have suffered a couple of lopsided losses to FBS teams this season, falling at
Northern Illinois in their opener (55-3) and getting blanked by NC State on
Sept. 20 (42-0).
Ole Miss was riding high a few weeks ago, as it ascended all the way to No. 3
in the nation following a 7-0 start, with a home win over Alabama (23-17) the
high point. Since then however, the Rebels’ hopes of winning the SEC Western
Division crown have been all but dashed with back-to-back losses to LSU (10-7)
and Auburn (35-31), the latter a heartbreaking back-and-forth battle with six
“When you see your young men put so much into preparing for opportunities like
we had (against Auburn), you see the hurt that they go through,” Ole Miss
coach Hugh Freeze said. “Whoever lost that game was going to feel that way. It
was a great college football game against two really good teams…Our
character trait this week was adversity. We’re staring it in the face a bit
and that’s life. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. We have to be brothers
right now as we stand together and get through a challenging time.”
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools.
Presbyterian has struggled to get anything going offensively this season. It
scores just 17.9 ppg on 332.8 ypg while converting third downs at a 32 percent
Heys McMath had an awful performance last week (18-of-31, 170 yards, four
INTs). He’s completing less than 60 percent of his passes for 1,171 yards, six
touchdowns and seven interceptions, and Kaleb Griffin (17-of-30, 164 yards,
INT) could be in line for more playing time if McMath’s struggles continue.
Demarcus Rouse has been the most effective running back for the Blue Hose with
512 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries. Blake Roberts (338 yards, three
TDs), Darrell Bridges (255 yards, TD) and LaQua Mayes (234 yards, two TDs) are
also mixed in.
Tobi Antigha has nearly doubled all other receiver’s production with 45
receptions for 458 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone.
The Blue Hose’s solid defense has helped bail out the underperforming offense
this season, as the unit gives up only 23.9 ppg and 368.6 ypg.
Donelle Williams has a team-high 62 tackles, while DaRon Dickey, Ed Britt and
Shonquille Byers all have two interceptions apiece.
Ole Miss’ offense has been very efficient this season in picking up 31.8 ppg
and 426.4, and against a great Auburn defense a week ago the unit amassed just
shy of 500 yards.
Bo Wallace did all he could to lift his team to victory the last time out,
passing for 341 yards, rushing for 61 and accounting for three touchdowns
without an interception. On the season, Wallace has shined by completing 63.5
percent of his throws for 268.4 ypg, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions to
go with solid rushing totals (223 yards, three TDs).
Laquon Treadwell (48 receptions, 632 yards, five TDs) topped 100 yards versus
Auburn but suffered a leg injury late that will cost him the rest of the
season, leaving Vince Sanders (33 receptions, 536 yards, four TDs) as
Wallace’s go-to receiver.
“Vince, like we’ve talked about many times, he’s one of the more underrated
players in this conference,” Freeze said. “I think Vince will respond
extremely well…I’m excited about seeing his role increase.”
Cody Core (29 receptions, 415 yards, five TDs) and Evan Engram (27 receptions,
415 yards, two TDs) are also in for increased targets with Treadwell out.
Jaylen Walton earns the majority of the backfield work and has tallied 557
total yards and six touchdowns on 91 touches.
Although the Rebels’ defense could not contain Auburn’s balanced offensive
attack last week, the let down wasn’t enough to spoil an excellent season, as
they still rank first in the nation in scoring defense (13.2 ppg) and tied for
second in turnovers (25).
Senquez Golson is an elite playmaker in the secondary, ranking second in the
nation with nine interceptions, including at least one in each of the last
five games. Other defensive standouts include Mike Hilton (53 tackles, three
INTs), Tony Conner (51 tackles, 6.0 TFL, INT), Cody Prewitt (50 tackles, two
INTs, FF) and Marquis Haynes (6.5 sacks, three FF).