Our Opponent Q&A returns this week chatting with One Man to Beat (@OneMan2BeatRCR on Twitter/X) from Red Cup Rebellion. Both teams come into this game with some momentum but also a great deal of concern. We spend some time here discussing Ole Miss’s slow start to the season, tailgating at The Grove, and the ghost of William Faulkner.
Ole Miss beat down a poorly coached Geoff Collins team in Atlanta last year. We still don’t know much about this year’s iteration of the Yellow Jackets, but after our first 2 games, they do seem much improved and better-coached, despite an avoidable loss to Louisville to open the season. Are you expecting the same results as last year in Oxford this year? The Lane train seemed to be able to score at will much of last season, is the offensive firepower still there?
So I’ll be honest I was shocked at the outcome last year, and I think it was a clear sign last year’s team was done with the leadership at that time at Georgia Tech. I don’t expect a blowout win in any way, because there’s been some serious talent departures at wide receiver and offensive line alongside some injuries at wide receiver early on. Tre Harris has five touchdowns in five quarters of play but also will not play due to knee issue, so that’s not ideal for an offense built around balance to open up the run game for Quinshon Judkins.
It may sound ludicrous to say “the offense isn’t as good as it should be” and be disappointed with 28+ points, but it’s where I’m at right now. If the Rebels can’t break that mark, I’ll be concerned for the rest of the season.
I tried really hard to go to Oxford this weekend for the game, but could not find anywhere to stay... I found a couple of Holiday Inns like 40-50 miles away that were charging exorbitant amounts during game weekends... And this was me looking into this during the spring of this year. When visitors come to Oxford, what advice do you have on housing? Even if it’s not my Yellow Jackets playing, I would love to visit The Grove (I do look excellent in a linen suit, you know). I’m also dying to eat at City Grocery, John Currence is one of my favorite chefs.
Your best bet honestly is looking in the Memphis metro area where there’s suburbs with Hampton Inns and the like. Yes, it’s an hourish drive from Oxford, but it’s the most affordable option and most readily available. Also, as soon as you know you’re coming to Oxford, sometimes hotels book a year or more in advance for home football games. If you’re into John Currence, City Grocery opens up for football season reservations in June, but there is also Boure, Snackbar and Big Bad Breakfast that he owns in Oxford. All are great and will make you fat and happy.
With the legendary tailgate scene in The Grove, what’s your plan for an all-day tailgate and still being able to make it to the game? It’s still relatively hot out, and y’all are all in dress clothes, so it’s gotta require some stamina.
Yeah, so you’ve got to know yourself and what you can handle for an all day tailgate. If you start the day with bloody mary’s, you’re going to need to scale back with some Ultra at some point and mix in a bottle of water every now and then. The main thing is to feed yourself, and there is such a ridiculous bounty of food in the Grove, if you leave hungry you’re just a dumbass. For me personally this season, I probably won’t do more than a 6-8 hour Grove session, so I’ll be sticking with ice cold domestic light beer and then maybe a cocktail for the walk to the stadium. Every tent has someone who gets a solid power nap in because they started the day too early or too intense, so it’s a steep learning curve for some.
Back to football: Kiffin is widely regarded as an offensive savant, but seems to fall into the Lincoln Riley-esque category of scoring lots of points because they can’t get any defensive stops. Has the Ole Miss defense improved at all in this short season so far? Who should we look out for on the defensive side of the ball?
Make no mistake about it, Lane Kiffin wants to score a touchdown every offensive position and feels confident he can do so. Now, that’s probably every offensive minded coach in the country, but I think the difference is Kiffin might can do it with less talent than the rest in my opinion. He has a very good ability at getting the ball to the best players on offense even when the defense schemes against it. Really fun to watch if you are me!
There is a school of thought that new defensive coordinator Pete Golding is very good at halftime adjustments, and if you watch the Tulane game, the Green Wave went from scoring 17 in the first half to only three in the second half. Maybe that’s coaching, maybe it’s talent gap showing up over time, I’m not sure. I do think the defensive line and linebackers have made strides of improvement with Isaac Ukwu and JJ Pegues on the line and Monty Montgomery (Louisville transfer) and Khari Coleman at linebacker.
Jaxson Dart has been fun to watch, but he seems to be taking more sacks than he should in this young season - is that due to protection, WR talent, or holding on to the ball too long? Tech’s defense has not done well at all on pressuring drop backs so far in 2023, so you should maybe be concerned if defenders start consistently spending time in the backfield?
The offensive line played probably the worst half of ball it has in Kiffin’s tenure during the Tulane game. They looked sluggish, confused, and Dart was running for his life at times. I think the Rebel fanbase is in one of two camps... “hey it’s one game in 90+ degree heat and high humidity on the road and they had a bad day” and “DEFCON FOUR FIRE THE OL COACH THIS IS GONNA COST US EVERY SEC GAME WE PLAY”. Personally, if the OL doesn’t find its identity this Saturday, get some push on rushing downs and protect Dart en route to 400 total offensive yards or more, I’ll be pretty damn convinced they are going to cost us four or five conference games. No offense to Tech’s defensive line, but I mean you said it first.
Unless the ghost of William Faulkner curses the Fightin’ Kiffins with polio or scurvy this week, I don’t see the Yellow Jackets leaving Oxford with a W. Vegas has Ole Miss as an 18.5 point favorite. Do the Yellow Jackets cover?
Faulkner’s ghost would curse you with a hangover first and foremost. Fun fact, his grave is not far from campus and its tradition to go take a shot, pour him a shot and leave the bottle behind (whatever vagrant started this rumor has been drinking for free for decades). As far as the game goes, I’m not confident despite whatever I said in previous answers. I think there’s some depth issues at key positions, and our team may come into this game overconfident and not ready for a much more motivated Tech team. Maybe I’m misreading it, but I see the Yellow Jackets covering the spread just out of sheer effort and motivation.
Also, let me just take a minute to say if you’re in the Atlanta area and want to watch the game and enjoy some food/drink, check out Ormsby’s on Howell Mill Rd. It’s not like the greatest bar and restaurant of all time, but the last time I visited there me and the boys had a hell of a time there. Cheers!
Thanks again to One Man to Beat for taking the time to speak with us. Make sure to head over to Red Cup Rebellion to say hello and check out their end of the Q&A. You can also follow One Man to Beat on Twitter/X here.
As always, go Jackets!