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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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View from the other sideline: Ole Miss

The Battalion sports editor Carter Karels spoke with Collin Brister, co-sports editor at The Daily Mississippian, about the current state of the Ole Miss team and how the game this Saturday will pan out.

THE BATTALION: What is your score prediction?

BRISTER: Ole Miss- 34 Texas A&M- 30. This Rebel team is confusing, but one thing that has remained consistent under Hugh Freeze is that they play well at home. The Rebels usually score a lot more points in Vaught-Hemmingway as well. I think the Rebels realize this is their last shot. Ole Miss is still in control of its own destiny regarding the SEC West. There was a team meeting earlier this week and the Rebels have alluded to having their “swagger” back. I think this is the week the Rebels come out of their lull and play well in all facets. 

THE BATTALION: It seems like the A&M-Ole Miss game has generated excitement in the past. What is the feeling around campus leading up to this A&M-Ole Miss game?

BRISTER: It’s undeniable how exciting the games in 2012 and 2013 were. I truly believe if Texas A&M had any other quarterback, Ole Miss would have won those two games. That’s how special Johnny Manziel was. I think Ole Miss rattled Kenny Hill early last year and was able to take control of the game. I think the students are excited, especially after the game last week versus Memphis. With Memphis being in such close proximity to Ole Miss, I think students are really excited to hopefully get the taste of that loss out of their mouth against such a quality opponent. 

THE BATTALION: A few weeks ago, Ole Miss beat an Alabama team that looks to be unstoppable now. What has changed from that game to the past couple weeks against Memphis and Florida?

BRISTER: What happened was [defensive back] Tony Conner got injured. While it’s too simple to say that injury was the sole reason Ole Miss has lost two of its last three games, it had a huge impact. Tony Conner did not miss tackles, and his blazing speed made it hard for quarterbacks to take advantage of underneath routes. Since his injury that night in Tuscaloosa, the Rebels have been vulnerable to underneath routes and have missed too many tackles to be successful. On offense, the Rebels haven’t been as good on the offensive line, and Florida and Memphis have forced Chad Kelly to make quick decisions, while eliminating any threat of a running game. 

THE BATTALION: The Rebels are a lot like the Aggies in that they are not too effective on the ground. Does this hurt the Ole Miss offense?

BRISTER: Yes, it hurts the Ole Miss offense a lot. It has been proven that to be in the top part of the SEC, you must have a consistent rushing threat. Ole Miss arguably has the best wide receiving core in the country, and if the Rebels were able to have success running the football, it would present more one-on-one matchups for guys like Laquon Treadwell and Evan Engram, making the Rebel offense a potent one. While the competition is not comparable to Texas A&M, the Rebels were able to rush the ball against Fresno State with great success and Chad Kelly had a field day with the Bulldog defense. 

THE BATTALION: What kind of quarterback is Chad Kelly, and what does he bring to the table? Is he the best quarterback in the SEC?

BRISTER: I believe that Chad Kelly is the best quarterback in the SEC when he has time to throw the football. Even in the losses, Kelly has had successful numbers in the air. While, yes, the interceptions have gone up in the last four weeks, a few of those can be credited to tipped passes and the amount of pressure Kelly is faced with when he drops back to pass. While Kelly isn’t a blazer, he has more speed than Bo Wallace and presents the threat of taking off and running, which keeps defenses honest. 

THE BATTALION: Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche suffered a concussion last week. Will he be out? And if so, what will the Ole Miss defense look like without him?

BRISTER: Robert Nkemdiche’s status is up in the air. Head coach Hugh Freeze said he was still going through concussion protocol after practice on Wednesday, so I guess we’ll have to see if he’s on the field Saturday. While Nkemdiche is undoubtedly the best defensive player, his position group is the deepest on the defense. While the Rebels would obviously prefer Nkemdiche be on the field taking double and triple teams, Breeland Speaks had a breakout performance Saturday replacing Nkemdiche, so hopefully for the Rebels’ sake he will have another big game Saturday with or without Nkemdiche.

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