coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
On 10/06/2013 12:46 PM in NCAA Football

Texas A&M Aggies at Ole Miss Rebels: Preview and Pick

Texas A&M Aggies at Ole Miss Rebels: Preview and Pick

The Texas A&M Aggies are one of the most popular teams in the country thanks to their flamboyant quarterback in Johnny Manziel. They take their game on the road this week to battle an Ole Miss Rebels team looking to get back on the winning track after losing back to back games against Alabama and Auburn.

Texas A&M Aggies at Ole Miss Rebels Odds

The college football odds for this game opened up with the Aggies listed as (-5) point favorites. This line is due to the fact that the Rebels are struggling and the Aggies are a very popular team. This line will shift leading up to kickoff so make sure that you check the top rated sportsbook for the latest line before wagering.

The Aggies will use this game against the Rebels to fix their defense. The Texas A&M defense has produced four sacks in five games. To put that in perspective, the 2012 defense had eight sacks in the season-opener against Florida. The 2012 version of the Texas A&M defense allowed 3.7 yards per carry. The 2013 Aggies defense is allowing an astonishing 6.1 yards per carry.
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder prided himself on his defense's ability to shut down the run. This year, the Aggies' inability to stop the run has been a source of frustration for the coaches and the fans.

The Aggies have not been able to produce a pass rush with their front four. They have not been able to blitz a lot because Mark Snyder has had to use the linebackers to help in pass coverage. Coach Kevin Sumlin gave the team complete days off -- no practice, no lifting in the weight room -- on Tuesday and Friday. The Aggies practiced Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and will also practice on Saturday. But giving his team a couple of days to gather itself is important.

The college football betting trends for this game reveal some very interesting wagering angles in this SEC throw down. The total has gone under in 6 of Texas A&M's last 9 games on the road, however the total has gone over in 4 of Mississippi's last 5 games at home. Texas A&M is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games on the road and 10-1 straight up in the last 11 games overall. Mississippi is 5-2 straight up in its last 7 games and 4-1 straight up in the last five games at home.

Texas A&M Aggies at Ole Miss Rebels Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/07/2013 03:38 PM

Texas A&M's defense struggled through much of the Aggies' first five games, trying to find consistency as personnel has shifted as a result of suspensions (in the first two games), injuries or simply the youth and inexperience that permeates the two-deep depth chart.

But it hasn't been all bad, and there have been some bright spots through the early stages of the season -- perhaps none as bright as defensive back Deshazor Everett.

The junior cornerback/safety has been many things for the Aggies this season: steady, versatile, a source of leadership, a playmaker. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder called him "an eraser," which seems appropriate since Everett has made a touchdown-saving tackle or two this season.

One thing Everett hasn't been all year is two-handed. Well, sort of.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Everett broke the thumb on his right hand during preseason training camp, but hasn't missed any game time as a result. He played with a cast throughout the first five games but Everett is happy to say that when the Aggies (4-1, 1-1 SEC) go to Oxford, Miss., on Saturday to meet the Rebels (3-2, 1-2), he plans to play cast-free for the first time this season.

"Oh yes, definitely," Everett said with a smile, "I'll have two hands in that game."

So far, it hasn't hindered his play much at all. In fact, Everett scored a defensive touchdown in each of the last two games. In the Aggies' 42-13 win over SMU on Sept. 21, Everett had a 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown. On Sept. 28 against Arkansas, he stepped in front of a Brandon Allen pass and returned an interception 34 yards for a score, which proved critical in the Aggies' 45-33 win that day.

"I can't wait until he gets that cast off, then maybe he'll score twice in a game," head coach Kevin Sumlin said.

On a defense that has seen players go in and out of the lineup for myriad reasons and is trying to find its footing after a horrendous start (the Aggies are 112th nationally in yards allowed per game), Everett is a bright light and someone the coaching staff can rely on in multiple roles.

Though he's the team's best cornerback, Snyder and secondary coach Marcel Yates elected to shift Everett back to free safety to alleviate some concerns they had with the back end of the defense. The results since the switch have been positive.

"He understands what we're trying to do," Sumlin said. "He's playing out of position really, because he's our best corner. We move him, you give up something, you think, he's also one of our better DBs and gives us speed back in the back and has saved some touchdowns this year, no doubt. And has given us the opportunity to line up and play defense again and I can't tell you how critical that's been."

Everett is second on the team with 31 tackles and also has two tackles for loss, two interceptions and a pass breakup in addition to his two defensive touchdowns. Against Arkansas, cornerback Tramain Jacobs -- who assumed Everett's cornerback position with Everett at safety -- performed admirably and will be a key player for the Aggies as they continue to buy time until starting free safety Floyd Raven returns from a collarbone injury.

"I'm the first one to take my hat off; I thought he played well," Snyder said of Jacobs. "They went after him and targeted him, they continued to target him and they're going to target him again next Saturday. And I thought he really rose to the occasion."

Everett had two pins put in his thumb after breaking it, and if it was up to him, he wouldn't have even come off the practice field when it occurred in August. He recalled asking a trainer if it could simply be taped up on the spot so he could continue practicing, but he was told no, he had to get X-rays on it.

"I couldn't move it and it was just hanging there," Everett said. "I just wanted to keep playing basically. I didn't want, just because of a little injury, [to not] continue practicing. I could practice without my thumb or play without my thumb. People have played with injuries before. It was just a small injury for me."

The DeRidder, La., product attributes his tough attitude to being undersized and hanging with bigger kids growing up, being "pushed around" so he could be toughened up. In addition to his toughness and solid play, he has been willing to do anything. Sumlin referenced Everett's willingness to play on special teams when the Aggies needed him, spending time on kickoff return units when asked.

"He just goes in there and does it and runs back off the field because he wants to win," Sumlin said.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/07/2013 03:43 PM

When No. 9 Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1 SEC) rolls into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday night to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (3-2, 1-2 SEC), a recently maligned Rebel defense will try and corral a Johnny Manziel-led Aggies offense producing in excess of 49 points (No. 4 in nation) and 585 yards of offense per game (No. 3 nationally).

Further, Hugh Freeze and Co. will look to avenge an extremely disappointing 30-27 home loss to Kevin Sumlin's club last October in which A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's late-game heroics made up for six A&M turnovers.

Assuming a sputtering Ole Miss offense finally gets out of neutral and starts playing like it did earlier in the year, the Rebels should have a chance at the upset bid as long as the defense is able to shore up a few issues this week in practice.

- Play Stronger Run Defense
The four times A&M was held to 165 or fewer yards rushing in 2012 (excluding the Sam Houston State game), the results were two losses (Florida, LSU) and a narrow five-point win (Alabama).

In A&M's lone loss of 2013, Alabama held the Aggies to 164 yards rushing.

As much trouble as Manizel is causing on the ground (62.8 YPG), running backs Ben Malena (60.6 YPG), Tre Carson (45.8 YPG) and Trey Williams (40.7 YPG) are providing run defenses added trouble this fall.

So far this season, the Aggies rank No. 21 in the nation in terms of rushing offense (221.4 YPG).

Entering this weekend's contest, Ole Miss is allowing opponents to rush for 175.8 YPG. Over the past two weeks, the Rebels have given up 254 rushing yards to Alabama and 282 yards on the ground to Auburn—figures that must decrease dramatically for the Rebels to have a shot at the upset.

It won't be enough for the Rebels to just slow Manziel on the ground; they'll also have to keep players like Malena, Carson and Williams in check throughout the night.

- Contain Johnny Football
Understanding that really no team in college football can "shut down" the dual-threat QB, Ole Miss coaches will try and piece together a defensive game plan to simply try and limit big plays from the talented sophomore on Saturday night.

That being said, the Rebs have ample work to do this week after Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall ran wild on them this past weekend. While Marshall and Manziel cause damage on the ground in different ways (Marshall more so on designed runs, Manziel more so on scrambles), they're both very mobile quarterbacks capable of making defenses pay dearly for mistakes.

Not only must a better game plan be put in place against Johnny Football, but Ole Miss players must also be mentally prepared to put the plan into action from the first moment Manziel touches the ball.

While Manziel's 297.8 YPG passing and 62.8 YPG rushing have been impressive, wide receiver Mike Evans' 138.2 YPG receiving and RB Ben Malena's 60.6 YPG on the ground have added insult to injury for opposing defenses this season.

To try and slow the fast-break, anything-goes offensive circus that Manziel orchestrates, the Ole Miss defense must limit the number of times Manziel is able to elude defenders and take off running.

- Hold A&M to Around 30
As gaudy as the numbers are that the A&M offense is putting up ahead of the Ole Miss game, the Aggies' offensive output is nearly identical right now to what it was this time last year. In its first four contests of 2012, A&M averaged 48.25 PPG. Over the same period this season, it's averaging 49.2 PPG.

In terms of how the Ole Miss defense was performing prior to taking on Texas A&M in 2012, the Rebels defense was allowing opponents 27.2 PPG. This year, the Rebels enter the A&M game actually allowing opponents two points fewer per outing (25.2 PPG).

Remember how many points the Aggies scored last year in Oxford? That's right: 30.

If the Rebels can hold the Aggies to around 30 or less again this year, they'll have a fighter's chance to seek revenge on their SEC West foe and pull off one of the biggest upsets of the young season.

- Force Turnovers, Turn Them Into Points
Granted A&M did cough the ball up six times in last year's game, and it should go without saying that Ole Miss defenders like linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and free safety Cody Prewitt will once again have to create turnovers to give the Rebels a chance against the Aggies this time around.

While the Rebels forced Manziel to throw two interceptions and the A&M offense to put the ball on the turf four times last season, Ole Miss didn't do a very good job of creating points off of turnovers last year against Texas A&M.

To have a shot against the Aggies, the Rebels must be able to convert turnovers into points this time.

- Play Better 3rd-Down Defense
The Aggies' 57.6 percent third-down-conversion percentage ranks No. 6 in the nation. In comparison, Ole Miss' 41.3 percent third-down-conversion percentage defense ranks No. 77.

Taking it even further, Manziel has gone 17-of-22 for 324 yards on third-down attempts in 2013 through the air. As for rushing on third down, the sophomore has carried the ball 13 times for a total of 63 yards this fall.

Simply forcing A&M into third downs won't be enough to corral the Texas A&M offense. Instead, Ole Miss must keep the Aggies well below their nearly 60 percent third-down-conversion percentage.

- Putting It All Together
Despite the two-game SEC skid to wrap up a brutal opening stretch—comprised of four road games in their first five contests—the Rebels really aren't that far away from being a very solid football team.

Minus QB Bo Wallace's pick-six on the Plains, the Rebels would have only fallen 23-22.
Minus two big scoring plays in Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss would have only fallen 11-0 to the Crimson Tide.

A loss is a loss, no doubt about it, but despite a lately stagnant offense and suspect run defense in recent contests, Freeze's club truly isn't far from being a major player in the SEC West this season.

Manziel and Co. obviously present major challenges for the Rebels this weekend. That being said, if the offense can get back in sync at home and the defense corrects some obvious mistakes ahead of this weekend's SEC West showdown, you just never know what might happen.

The key for the Rebels will be to contain Manziel the best they can all night and hope to create some turnovers. While he won't return to Jerry Hollingsworth Field having forgotten how he led his club to victory last season, he likely also won't forget how much trouble the Ole Miss defense gave him.

Don't sleep on these Ole Miss Rebels; they'll be playing with a big chip on their shoulders Saturday.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/08/2013 02:47 PM

It was just two weeks ago that Ole Miss was a trendy pick to make some serious noise in the Southeastern Conference. Not anymore.

Consecutive road losses to No. 1 Alabama and Auburn have sent the Rebels (3-2, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) crashing back to reality, and now No. 9 Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1) comes to town on Saturday.

"A lot of us got a little complacent after that 3-0 run, but now I feel like everything happens for a reason," Ole Miss linebacker Serderius Bryant said. "We're in the spot where we need to be right now."

Ole Miss should get a boost by returning home to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels played four of their first five games on the road, but have the next six at home.

Where they play may not matter unless Ole Miss can figure out a way to get into the end zone with more consistency. The Rebels had a streak of more than six quarters without a touchdown during the Alabama and Auburn losses.

Ole Miss is right in the middle of the pack of the SEC in total offense, averaging 427.8 yards per game. But the Rebels rank just 12th out of 14 teams in the red zone, scoring touchdowns in 12 of 19 attempts.

Bo Wallace threw for 336 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn, but also had two interceptions, including one that was returned 78 yards for a touchdown.

The Rebels also had to settle for three field goals early when promising drives bogged down, allowing Auburn to build a 27-9 lead. Ole Miss made a comeback, but eventually lost 30-22.

"We've just got to win battles, whether it's a 1-on-1 battle or me making better decisions with the football," Wallace said. "We just have to be nasty. It's way tougher (in the red zone). You have 11 great players on the other side. It's tough to get in when you're that close."

The Ole Miss offensive line is also trying to correct issues after giving up six sacks against Auburn. Coach Hugh Freeze said four of those sacks could be traced back to the offensive line, but two were because Wallace wasn't making the right reads.

"We've just got to win battles, whether it's a 1-on-1 battle or me making better decisions with the football." --- Bo Wallace

Offensive guard Justin Bell said there's no use in pointing fingers. Everyone has to get better. "We're a family," Bell said. "In any family, you're going to have a point where you get down on someone. But we give it all for each other. That's what it's all about and that's what we have to realize. That's what we're going to show everybody on Saturday."

Wallace said the offense must improve to keep pace with Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Aggies, who are coming off a bye week, are averaging an SEC-best 49.2 points and 586.4 yards per game.

The Aggies had some trouble with the Rebels last season, needing a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter to secure a 30-27 victory.

But they also had six turnovers in that game -- four fumbles and two interceptions -- and it is doubtful they will be as generous this year.

The defense "is going to have to play against the best player in college football right now," Wallace said. "We know that. He's going to put up a lot of points. So we're going to have to answer with every drive we have."

The Ole Miss defense has improved throughout the season and held Auburn to just 375 yards on Saturday. But Manziel -- who leads the SEC with 360.6 total yards per game -- presents the toughest challenge to date.

The Rebels had some success against Manziel last season by using safety Mike Hilton as a spy, chasing the quarterback all over the field.

But Hilton has now been moved to cornerback and isn't sure if the Rebels would have a similar plan. The 5-foot-8, 182-pound sophomore said the secondary must be confident but smart.

"Don't overdo anything, just play your game," Hilton said. "If you've got a chance to get him on the ground, get him on the ground, because everybody knows he can make plays."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/10/2013 12:36 AM

Texas A&M managed to thrive despite playing 12 straight weeks in 2012 but has gotten the luxury of a bye week this season.

The ninth-ranked Aggies are hoping that time off will aid their defense and help the program match its longest win streak away from home Saturday night against slumping Mississippi.

Texas A&M was forced to forgo its bye week last season after its opening game was postponed because of Hurricane Issac. The Aggies emerged from that gauntlet with 11 wins -- their most since 1998 -- and Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

"This year is a lot different," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "Five games in, we've got some guys limping around. We've got some guys we need to get healthy for the next stretch of games."

Manziel has the Aggies' offense humming once again, ranking in the top five in the FBS with 49.2 points and 586.4 yards per game. That's helped Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1 SEC) outpace most of its opponents.

The Aggies are giving up 476.4 yards per game, ranking 112th out of 123 FBS teams, and their average of 30.8 points allowed is 87th.

Texas A&M, however, was hindered by suspensions to a handful of starters early in the season.

"I wouldn't say that they're 100 percent comfortable," senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said. "But I think that slowly but surely we're working and getting our chemistry back. I just feel like we need to have a little bit more fun and everything will fall into place for us."

The Aggies' defense will try to start clicking as the program tries to win 10 straight road/neutral site games for the first time since 1939-40.

"It's critical for us to take our game to the next level," Hurd said. "When we come back out we want to put something out for the world to see -- this is our defense. We have to put a great statement out playing against Ole Miss. We have two weeks to prepare so we won't have any excuses."

Texas A&M would appear to have a good chance to tie that mark against a Rebels team that's dropped back-to-back games to fall out of the Top 25. After a 25-0 loss at No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 28, Ole Miss couldn't recover from an early 17-point deficit this past week in a 30-22 defeat at Auburn.

The Rebels (3-2, 1-2) were within five points when they recovered a fumble at their own 40-yard line, but Bo Wallace threw an interception on the ensuing possession and went 1 for 7 in two subsequent drives.

"A lot of us got a little complacent after that 3-0 run, but now I feel like everything happens for a reason," linebacker Serderius Bryant said. "We're in the spot where we need to be right now."

Wallace helped pace Ole Miss to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter in last season's visit from Texas A&M but the Aggies rallied for a 30-27 victory despite committing six turnovers, their most in nine years. Manziel connected on the winning 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:46 remaining, and Hurd sealed the game by intercepting a Wallace pass in Texas A&M territory.

"Anytime you win a game where you have six turnovers, you feel like you got out of there with a gift," offensive coordinator Clarence McKinney said.

Manziel was limited to 191 passing yards, but he ran for 129 in the Aggies' first-ever SEC road win. Ben Malena had a career-best 142 yards on the ground for Texas A&M, and Wallace threw for 305 yards.

The Aggies are seeking to improve to 6-0 all-time against the Rebels before heading into a string of four straight home games. Ole Miss is playing the first of six consecutive contests in Oxford.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/10/2013 02:02 PM

After an off week, Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1 SEC) returns to the field on Saturday to take on Ole Miss (3-2, 1-2) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The No. 9 Aggies escaped with a win last season; can they do it again? Here are five keys to doing so:

1. Avoid the turnover bug:
Last season when these two teams met, it was the Aggies' worst showing in the turnover department. They turned it over six times, which put them in a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. Thanks to an improbable catch by Mike Evans on third-and-19 and some heroics from Johnny Manziel, Ryan Swope and Toney Hurd Jr., among others, the Aggies were still able to pull out the win. But another such showing with turnovers is unlikely to yield the same result.

2. Grow up quickly:
The Aggies will turn to a true freshman, Isaiah Golden, to fill in at one of the starting defensive tackle spots in place of Kirby Ennis, who will miss the rest of the season because of season-ending knee surgery. The run defense has struggled this season, and fortunately Golden has some playing experience, having appeared in four games this year. There are other players with experience across the defensive line (Julien Obioha, Alonzo Williams, Gavin Stansbury) so they'll help Golden along, but he'll have to grow up fast against the running of Jeff Scott and Bo Wallace.

3. Contain the receivers:
Ole Miss has a solid quartet of pass catchers led by junior Donte Moncrief and true freshman Laquon Treadwell. The pair has combined for 47 catches and 605 yards in five games. The A&M secondary hopes to regain the services of safety Floyd Raven, who missed the last three games with a collarbone injury. If not, cornerback Deshazor Everett will remain at free safety, a spot where he has picked up defensive touchdowns in two consecutive games.

4. Road mentality:
The Aggies haven't lost a game away from Kyle Field since Kevin Sumlin took over as head coach. SEC road games are almost never easy and with Ole Miss coming off back-to-back conference losses, the Rebels will be motivated to right the ship at home.

5. Spreading the wealth:
The Aggies used all four scholarship running backs effectively in their win over Arkansas and Johnny Manziel was able to also distribute to six different receivers. The coaches consistently say that they'll take what the defensive gives them, but if they can continue to utilize a wide range of offensive options like they did last week, it makes the potent A&M offense that much more difficult to defend.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/11/2013 11:41 AM

You'll have to forgive Hugh Freeze if he strayed from healthy eating this week. It's been a long couple of weeks for Ole Miss' head coach.

That explains the scene of him standing outside his office Wednesday morning, clutching a plate with a half-eaten slice of pepperoni pizza in his left hand and a Coke Zero in his right. He then juggles nibbling and sipping as he makes it to his desk, where a plate of spaghetti is waiting for him, completing an unorthodox late breakfast.

"It's never too early around here," he says with a laugh.

Freeze needs all the energy he can get. He has seen recent road trips end at three and four in the morning and has stressed over an unsettling off-field incident that has thrust the entire football program into an embarrassing light.

The last five days have provided Freeze with a temporary escape from the last two weeks, but Saturday brings a new challenge when Johnny Manziel and his high-flying Texas A&M offense visit the Grove.

For the first time in more than a month, the Rebels will play at home, ending three weeks of travel that has physically and mentally drained players and coaches. Now, they have to be energized for Johnny Football and an offense registering 586.4 yards and 49.2 points per game.

It doesn't help that Manziel has become that much more dangerous with improved passing skills (297.8 yards per game and 14 touchdowns). He's sitting in the pocket longer, looking for second options and reading defenses before running.

"He's just one of those players that you're not going to stop," safety Cody Prewitt said. "He makes plays consistently, no matter the situation. The best we're going to do is try to contain him.

"He's going to find a way to make a play, no matter what."

The Rebels' defense has played well to this point, giving up just 361.4 yards per game, and A&M's defense is currently the worst in the SEC, but can Ole Miss keep pace with the Aggies?

"I don't know if you can," Freeze said with a laugh. "Where we are right now with our program, I'm not sure. We're going to certainly give it our best effort.

"It's about as difficult as it gets."

Defensively, it's all about trying to contain Manziel. Easier said than done, but that's where discipline comes into play. Defensive backs have to stick to their receivers, and the front seven can't over pursue. Then, you just hope.

On offense, Freeze wants to reestablish the run. During the first three wins, Ole Miss averaged 250 rushing yards and had 10 touchdowns on the ground. In the Rebels' two losses to Alabama and Auburn, they've averaged 85, gaining just 46 their shutout loss to Alabama.

Freeze said his team was spoiled by early defensive schemes. During the first three games, teams usually played with a two-high shell over receiver Donte Moncrief's side to take away the deep ball, leaving the middle of the field open for the Rebels to run.

Alabama took its chances inside with the two-high and out-muscled Ole Miss' offense, while Auburn played the run game straight up, stacking the box. In the last two games, Jeff Scott was held to 94 total rushing yards.

Against the Aggies, who are giving up an SEC-high 214.8 rushing yards a game, Freeze wants his running game to chew some clock to keep the ball away from Manziel.

"We go fast, but going fast and throwing it is not going smart fast against this team," Freeze said. "But we're gonna have to throw it some too. We're not built to just line up and pound it like Alabama and Arkansas did."

The back-to-back losses have some Ole Miss believers inching closer to the ledge, but Freeze says he's fine. His 3-2 record is the least of his worries. He understands that fans will point to the scoreboard, but with just one full recruiting class on campus in his second season, Freeze says this program is far from clinging to results each week.

"Man, I don't think you're ever going to be able to build a consistent program if you're going to be up and down with what people define as your expectations," he said. "That stuff does not bother me at all. Does it bother me to lose? Of course it does. It bothers me to look at plays that we screwed up that could have had an impact on the game; you better believe it does.

"After you've had four recruiting classes, then the results do matter to you. It's way too early for us to start and try to define somebody by one or two games, or even four games, or even the whole season."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1
coleryan Posts:11990 Followers:20
10/12/2013 06:59 AM

Ole Miss is worth a play on the money line and with the points as they have a shot at the outright upset!

Pick: Ole Miss

  • Last 7 Days Record: 4-9-1