In the season's third week, the Jackets will head to Oxford, MS to face their first SEC opponent, Ole Miss on September 16, at 7:30 pm EST.
Last season, Ole Miss finished fourth in the SEC West with an overall record of 8-5. The Rebels ended their season last year with four straight losses (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Texas Tech). This year holds newfound promise. Ole Miss returns 13 of last year's starters and atop that, Head Coach Lane Kiffin has been working the transfer portal this offseason. Racking up a total of 25 new transfers including two new quarterbacks Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State) and Walker Howard (LSU). Other notable additions are wide receivers Zakhari Franklin (UTSA) and Tre Harris (Louisiana Tech); linebacker Monty Montgomery (Louisville); and defensive lineman Issac Ukwu (JMU). Ole Miss fell sixth on the list of top 2023 transfer classes. Their 2023 recruiting class falls 21st overall and 11th in the SEC. The Rebels signed both the number one and number two ranked recruits in the state of Mississippi, Suntarine Perkins (LB) and Ayden Williams (WR), respectively. Outside of these two stars, Ole Miss boasts 28 commits, five of which are ESPN 300 commits.
In last year’s contest, Ole Miss ran all over the Jackets... literally. In the 42-0 loss, the Rebels, led by Zach Evans and reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Quinshon Judkins, ran for 316 yards. Thankfully, Evans has moved on to the NFL, but Judkins is still around to give the Jackets trouble on the ground. In Bobby Dodd last September, Judkins ran for 98 yards and accounted for two touchdowns as the second-string back. It’s safe to say that even without Evans helping carry the load, Ole Miss still projects to have one of the best, if not the best running game in the SEC. Returning quarterback Jaxson Dart did some work on the ground running for 40 yards and also completed 10 of 16 passes against Georgia Tech’s defense in 2022. Ole Miss’s defense gave the Jackets trouble, holding the Jackets to only 214 yards total offense, no touchdowns, and sacking former QB Jeff Sims seven times. Every player on the Ole Miss defense will be a junior or senior this season, creating one of the most experienced defenses in the SEC. Pretty scary stuff...
With only two games in the schedule before rolling into Oxford, Brent Key’s defense will have to show serious improvement, specifically in plugging up the middle, if they can hope to slow Ole Miss’ offense. While it’s a big ask, it’s also a huge opportunity for the Yellow Jacket defensive line to prove they can recover from the loss of second round draft pick Keion White. While the Jackets are extremely unlikely to be favored in this matchup, facing strong competition in an SEC environment can only help strengthen the team under new leadership. In order to avoid a repeat of last year, Georgia Tech must stop the run game, force Dart into more errors, and step up on the offensive line. It’s a tall order, but if they can do all that and produce offensively, Brent Key has a real chance to walk away with his third ranked road win in his first 11 games as HC.