The Q&A returns this week with a chat with the lovely folks over at Red Cup Rebellion. We chatted with their writer, One Man to Beat, to get the insider’s down-low on Lane Kiffin, the ceiling for the Rebels playing in the same division with the likes of Bama and Auburn, and the finer points of tailgating. The Lane Train led Ole Miss to 10 wins last season, and after a 2-0 start, are they on a similar trajectory this season? Keep reading to find out.
I think Ole Miss hiring Lane Kiffin is absolutely perfect, vibe-wise. He also seems to have made the Rebels a fun team to watch, even if they drop a game here and there. How is he fitting in at Oxford? What do you think the ceiling is for his teams there?
In my opinion the ceiling was well represented last year in a 10-2 regular season and invitation to the Sugar Bowl. Now, with the expansion of the college football playoff in the future, this would be potentially sneaking into a 12-team playoff for the national championship. I think being able to get into that top 10-12 is about as good as it can get for any program, but I am not under any delusion Ole Miss can regularly do this. Maybe once every 4-6 years. Kiffin seems to enjoy the fit at Ole Miss and Oxford - he seems to be able to unplug and go to Boca Raton to deep sea fish when he wants a break, and honestly, as long as he’s winning most fans won’t care what he does in the offseason.
Despite Tech being bad and having the schedule from hell this year, I was relieved to see this series with Ole Miss isn’t taking place in an NFL stadium. On-campus games are the best part of CFB. Will the Ole Miss fans be bringing their white table cloths and chandeliers to tailgate in Midtown on Saturday? With Tech’s lackluster attendance under Collins, it wouldn’t surprise me if folks from Oxford outnumbered the Tech fans both inside and outside the stadium.
I would be shocked if there is a lot of Ole Miss tailgating that will take place. The road Rebels that I have seen travel in bunches in the past typically pick a few hotels of note, drink the hotel bars dry, enjoy good food, and get to the game 15-30 minutes prior and party like there’s no tomorrow. The older segment of the fanbase will likely do the more lowkey option if they can find convenient parking, tailgate a bit, and head in, but the students/young alumni and even the 30-45 year olds are going to go enjoy whatever the Atlanta area can offer.
Jaxson Dart (excellent name for a QB) seems to have had a strong start to the season, albeit against Troy and Central Arkansas. What do you need to see from him to achieve 10 wins again this season while replacing Matt Corral? Is the surrounding talent there to support another double-digit win season on the offense?
Like our podcast wisely surmised this week, Dart rhymes with start, so he should be our starter for the remainder of the season. Dart has to find his deep ball and timing with receivers. There’s been a lot of turnover in the receivers, and so far it seems like there’s no true deep threat either. I don’t see it this year, though I do think Dart’s relationship is strongest with tight end Michael Trigg who had three TD catches against Central Arkansas and has the ability to be next level good.
Georgia Tech’s offensive line has done nothing but struggle under Geoff Collins - who on defense should we keep an eye out for? Who will be spending the most time in our backfield chasing Sims?
Khari Coleman jumped onto the scene for this defense early on with two sacks and five tackles for loss against Troy, so he is definitely a name to look out for as he transferred in from TCU and making a difference already. JJ Pegues is another name at defensive tackle who came to Ole Miss from Auburn, but he is originally from Oxford. He nearly decapitated Troy’s QB and is just a massive guy, very athletic and could be a matchup problem.
Outside of Miss St, who is considered the Rebels biggest rival in football? Would that be ‘Bama? Who do you hate to lose to the most besides Clanga?
LSU far and away - especially for the older fans. LSU and Ole Miss have played each other 109 times with LSU leading the series 64-41-4 over the Rebels. There have been seasons where one school upset a near perfect season for the other and vice versa, and the fanbases just generally hate each other. “Go to hell LSU!” is often screamed in the final bars of the Star Spangled Banner at generally any sporting event if that gives any indication of the level of hatred. It is nowhere near Georgia/Georgia Tech levels because of the lack of proximity, but there are certainly fans of Ole Miss who would put the Tigers as #1 on the most hated rival, even above Miss. St.
What have you learned from the first 2 games of this season to give you an indication of how Saturday’s game will go on The Flats? The spread is currently right around the Rebels being a 17 point favorite - does that seem right to you?
The defense has surprisingly gelled pretty quickly even though there are a lot of new faces. The offense seems to be a little behind where fans would like them to be right now and ball security has been an issue so far. This is the first true road trip for this team that was largely assembled in the wake of a lot of departures and massively dependent on the transfer portal. If there is staunch adversity and a close game into the third quarter, it will be the first real test this squad has had together. It will tell Ole Miss fans a lot about this team if it falls apart or is galvanized by the challenge. I think most fans are betting the Rebels until it gets to -20 or -21 right now.
Thanks again to One Man to Beat and RCR for exchanging this week’s Q&A with us. You can find my answers to his questions here.
Kickoff is at 3:30, and we’ll see you at Bobby Dodd.