October 13, 2017
Oct. 13, 2017
By Zac Ellis
Previewing Vanderbilt’s matchup with Ole Miss on Saturday (2:30 p.m. CT SEC Network):
History Lesson: Ole Miss leads the all-time series over Vanderbilt 50-39-2. But the Commodores are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings, including last season’s 38-17 win over the Rebels in Nashville.
Names to Watch (Ole Miss)
QB Shea Patterson
Ole Miss can throw the football, and it throws a lot with Patterson. The sophomore quarterback leads the SEC in total passing yards (1,792) and ranks second in yards per attempt (8.9). But Patterson can extend plays with his legs, as well; he ran for 169 yards on 41 carries in three starts in 2016.
WR A.J. Brown
The SEC leader in receiving yards per game (100.8), Brown is Patterson’s favorite target through five games. The sophomore averages 18.7 yards per catch and has hauled in four receiving touchdowns on the year.
S C.J. Moore
Moore missed all of 2016 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle during fall camp, but he has returned with a vengeance to the Rebels’ secondary. The junior has 27 tackles and leads Ole Miss with two interceptions, both coming against Cal on Sept. 16.
Percent of offensive snaps on which Ole Miss passes the ball. The Rebels make no bones about their offensive strategy, throwing the ball 60.1 percent of the time. In fact, Ole Miss runs only 26.4 times per game, fewest among SEC teams. A whopping 82.5 percent of its offensive yards come from the passing game.
Kyle Shurmur’s touchdown-to-interception ratio. That’s the best mark among SEC quarterbacks and a marked improvement from a year ago. Through six games last season, Shurmur had thrown just three touchdown passes alongside three interceptions.
Ole Miss’ ranking in total defense among FBS teams. The Rebels give up 456.2 yards per game and 6.3 yards per play, ranking 111th nationally and 13th in the SEC in total defense.
The Big Question: Can Vanderbilt stop Shea Patterson? The quarterback made his second-career start in last season’s 38-17 Commodores’ win, in which he amassed 254 yards of total offense. But the sophomore is a veteran this time around in leading the SEC’s top passing offense. The good news? Vanderbilt boasts the nation’s fourth-ranked pass defense. The bad news? Patterson likes to get out and run.
Vanderbilt Needs To: Start fast. Vanderbilt has been at its best when it finds the end zone early. That didn’t happen during its recent three-game losing streak. But against Ole Miss’ defense, Shurmur and company could find a groove in the first half. The Dores could even get their run game going with the Rebels allowing 248.6 rush yards per game. In an SEC environment on the road, Vanderbilt can’t afford to find itself in an early hole.
Did You Know? Vanderbilt has won three of its last four games against Ole Miss in Oxford.
He Said It: “The confidence comes back quick when you’ve got great leadership. Guys like Ryan [White] and Trent [Sherfield] and [Kyle] Shurmur, these guys know where we’re at.” –Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, on his team’s psyche following a three-game skid.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.