Ole Miss

Ole Miss trying to improve run defense vs. Georgia Southern

Ole Miss wide receiver Markell Pack (11) looks for room past Auburn defensive back Stephen Roberts (14). The Rebels host Georgia Southern on Saturday.
Ole Miss wide receiver Markell Pack (11) looks for room past Auburn defensive back Stephen Roberts (14). The Rebels host Georgia Southern on Saturday. Associated Press

The main reason Ole Miss has tumbled from the national rankings and turned into a middling team in the SEC is its inconsistent defense, especially when it comes to stopping the run.

That makes Georgia Southern an even more dangerous opponent.

Ole Miss (3-5) will be the heavy favorite when it hosts Georgia Southern (4-4) on Saturday, but the Eagles’ run-based option offense – which is ranked 21st in the nation with 239 yards per game – has the potential to cause problems for the Rebels.

“They are a scary matchup because of all the athletic guys they have running that option offensively,” Freeze said.

Ole Miss has been one of the worst teams in the SEC in several defensive categories this season. The Rebels are giving up 32.5 points per game, which ranks last in the league and they’re giving up 236.9 yards rushing per game, which is 13th out of 14 SEC teams.

“It continues to be an issue for us on defense, stopping the run and giving up explosive plays,” Freeze said. “I have zero frustration in the effort of our kids. I do continue to have frustration over not being able to fix a recurring problem.”

Georgia Southern has lost four of its last five games, including 34-10 to Appalachian State last week.

Some other things to watch when Ole Miss hosts Georgia Southern:

Kelly's Encore: Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly threw for a school-record 465 yards in last week’s 40-29 loss to Auburn. The Rebels haven’t had many problems moving the ball through the air this season – they’re first in the SEC and 14th nationally with 325.4 yards passing per game.

Rebels Trying To Avoid Longer Skid: Ole Miss has lost three games in a row for the first time since 2013. The Rebels haven’t lost four in a row since 2011, which was previous coach Houston Nutt’s final season. Ole Miss has a 30-1-2 record against current Sun Belt programs, including a 4-0 mark under Freeze.

Quite A Kicker: Ole Miss kicker Gary Wunderlich was recently named one of the nation’s 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award. The junior has been one of the most reliable kickers in the SEC, making 13 of 14 field goals and 31 of 33 extra points.

Georgia Southern at Ole Miss

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Radio: 103.1 FM

TV: ESPNU

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