Former Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre took over a defense that ranked 73rd in 2018 and already has them performing as the 38th best unit in the country. They’ve given up some points and yards, but A) the schedule - and offenses in particular - have been brutal, and B) they are only truly vulnerable in a few areas.
Josiah Coatney - R-SR: 14.5 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack
Austrian Robinson - R-SR: 11 tackles/2 TFLs/1.5 sacks
Benito Jones - SR: 17 tackles/7.5 TFLs/3 sacks/1 INT
K.D. Hill - R-FR: x
Tariqious Tisdale - JR: 9.5 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack
Quentin Bivens - R-FR: 3.5 tackles/0.5 TFLs/0.5 sacks/1 PBU
Charles Wiley - R-JR: 10.5 tackles/3.5 TFLs/2 sacks
Qaadir Sheppard - R-SR: 7.5 tackles/1.5 TFLs/1 PBU
Jacquez Jones - SO: 22 tackles/3.5 TFLs/0.5 sacks/1 PBU
Donta Evans - R-JR: 9 tackles/1 PBU/1 INT
Lakia Henry - JR: 31 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/1 PBU
Willie Hibbler - R-SR: 13.5 tackles/0.5 TFLs/1 PBU
Sam Williams - JR: 10 tackles/3.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 FF
Luke Knox - R-FR: 5 tackles/2 TFLs/1 PBU
The stat: havoc rate
The Rebel front seven is excellent. 18th against the run, 9th on standard downs, 13th in limiting explosive gains on the ground, 9th in stopping third-and-medium, 8th in stopping third-and-short. Running on Ole Miss’ 3-4 has been tough this year, even for the Alabama’s of the world, because not only do they minimize efficiency plays (30th) but also stifle explosiveness on the ground (13th). Check the havoc rate at the end of this game: if multiple linemen and backers are sitting at 50% or higher that probably means the Missouri ground game was completely nullified. Especially with a hobbled Kelly Bryant/Taylor Powell at quarterback, the threat of a quarterback-designed-run won’t be as present so Rountree and Badie will have their work cut out for them.
Keidron Smith - SO: 15 tackles/1 TFL/4 PBUs
Deantre Prince - FR: 6 tackles/1 INT
Jon Haynes - JR: 17.5 tackles/0.5 TFLs/1 PBU/1 INT
Jay Stanley - FR: 4.5 tackles
Jalen Julius - R-SR: 24.5 tackles/2 TFLs/4 PBUs
Armani Linton - R-SR: 8 tackles/3 PBUs
Myles Hartsfield - SR: 18.5 tackles/2.5 TFLs/1 sack/2 PBUs/1 INT
Jaylon Jones - JR: 21 tackles/4 TFLs/5 PBUs
The stat: passing success rate
The secondary is active in run support and breaking up passes but that aggressiveness has lead to opponents completing their passes at an easier rate (105th) and teams have been very efficient in throwing against them (112th). The Tigers’ quarterback, whomever it is, needs to take advantage of this and run the offense as it has been used so far this season: quick, easy passes for 3-4 yards, a few passes downfield to open up the run game. The Rebels can be beat on explosive passing plays as well but, regardless of how the yards come, the passing game should be the crux of a successful day for the offense.
Luke Logan - JR: 19-20 PATs (95%)/8-12 FGs (66.7%)
Mac Brown - JR: 30 punts/44.7 avg/2 touch backs (44%)
Jerrion Ealy - FR: 10 returns/24.9 avg/1 TD
Elijah Moore - SO: 7 returns/0.6 avg/15 fair catches
The stat: points per scoring opportunity
The returner guys for Ole Miss haven’t been anything special, and Mac Brown has been better than average in punting, but the key thing to look at with the specialists is a little more holistic: points per scoring opportunity. When the Rebel offense gets a scoring opportunity they’re averaging 4.24 points, good for 88th in the country. A big part of that is kicker Luke Logan already missing four field goals in five games. On the defensive side, the Rebels are allowing 3.81 yards per opportunity, good for 27th in the nation. Again, that defensive front is dynamite and can limit the damage an offense can do. The Mizzou offense ranks 86th in point per opportunity, by the way, and the defense ranks 31st. The number of scoring opportunities obviously matters here, but the amount of points each team is getting per opportunity will be very telling as to who is exerting their will and controlling the game.