Texas vs. Ole Miss: Complete Game Preview
Texas comes off a 45-0 shutout over Wyoming for the Longhorns' first road game of the season to take on last season's basement in the SEC, Ole Miss.
A new staff for the Rebels and a new quarterback in Bo Wallace have impressed early in the year, as Ole Miss' offense has the look of something special.
It's a Big 12-SEC showdown in what should be a great spectacle this weekend.
Depth Chart for Texas
QB: Wes Lunt, J.W. Walsh
RB: Joseph Randle, Jeremy Smith
WR: Isaiah Anderson, Charlie Moore
WR: Tracy Moore, C.J. Curry
WR: Josh Stewart, John Goodlett
LT: Parker Graham, Devin Davis
LG: Jonathan Rush, Brandon Webb
C: Evan Epstein, Jake Jenkins
RG: Lane Taylor, Eli Dickerson
RT: Daniel Koenig, Chris Grisbhy
DE: Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas
DE: Ryan Robinson, Tyler Johnson
DT: James Castleman, Anthony Rogers
DT: Calvin Barnett, Davidell Collins
SLB: Caleb Lavey, Ryan Simmons
MLB: Alex Elkins, DeMarcus Sherod
WLB: Shaun Lewis, Joe Mitchell
CB: Brodrick Brown, Kevin Peterson
FS: Shamiel Gary, Lavocheya Cooper
SS: Daytawion Lowe, Zack Craig
CB: Justin Gilbert, Ashton Lampkin
PK: Quinn Sharp, Bobby Stonebraker
P: Quinn Sharp, Michael Reichenstein
Depth Chart for Ole Miss
QB: Bo Wallace, Barry Brunetti
RB: Randall Mackey, Jeff Scott
WR: Donte Moncrief, Terrell Grant
WR: Korvic Neat, Collins Moore
WR: Ja-Mes Logan, Vince Sanders
LT: Emmanuel McCray, Derrick Wilson
LG: Aaron Morris, Justin Bell
C: Evan Swindall, Ben Still
RG: A.J. Hawkins, Jared Duke
RT: Pierce Burton, Patrick Junen
DE: C.J. Johnson, Jason Jones
DE: E.J. Epperson, Cameron Whigham
DT: Carlton Martin, Bryon Bennett
NT: Issac Gross, Gilbert Pena
LB: Mike Marry, Keith Lewis
LB: Aaron Garbutt, Denzel Nkemdiche
DB: Dehendret Collins, Brishen Mathews
CB: Wesley Pendleton, Cliff Coleman
FS: Charles Sawyer, Chief Brown
SS: Cody Prewitt, Chief Brown
CB: Senquez Golson, Louis Covington
PK: Bryson Rose, Andrew Ritter
P: Tyler Campbell, Chris Conley
What Happened to the Longhorns Last Week
Against a New Mexico offense that caused some early issues for the Longhorns, the coaching staff's halftime adjustments stood out in a second half that had Texas buckle down defensively.
Struggles in maintaining good spacing and discipline against the triple option in the first half turned into making better reads and better gang tackling in the second half, signs that Texas is very capable of making in-game progress that can establish longer term success this season.
Offensively, the story was much of the same.
Behind David Ash at quarterback, the Longhorns failed to establish any sort of rhythm early on. But aided by a suitable, short passing game and a few timely runs out of the backfield, Texas used its skill players very well in a strong second half effort.
A slow start for the Horns was generally harmless in the shutout victory, but similar sluggish beginnings against undeniable better competition down the road could put Texas into a hole it may not be able to escape as effectively.
Nevertheless, credit should be given where it is due, and for a Lobos team that racked up 66 points and close to 350 yards on the ground, the Longhorns have to be encouraged from allowing just 206 net rushing yards and the doughnut on the scoreboard.
What Happened to the Rebels Last Week
The Rebels scored three times in the first half to ride a 21-0 lead into the break. And after allowing 10 unanswered points in the third quarter, Ole Miss closed it out with an insurance touchdown early in the fourth quarter to beat UTEP 28-10.
Ole Miss racked up 538 yards of offense and did so efficiently in both phases of the game. Junior JUCO transfer Bo Wallace, who sent out feelers to Texas before choosing the Rebels, threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 53 more and another score.
Junior running back Jeff Scott had 13 carries for 113 yards for an offense that looked balanced and potent.
However, Ole Miss fumbled the ball three times in its 46 carries, so ball security could be a concern heading into the weekend.
The Rebels looked stout against the run, holding the Nathan Jeffrey-less Miners to only 37 net rushing yards.
What It Means to Both Teams
For Texas, it's an opportunity to test its might against an SEC program, cellar or otherwise.
The Longhorns will get to validate their performances against Wyoming and New Mexico and gather a better and more complete understanding of their strength and weaknesses before jumping into Big 12 play.
The Longhorns will be on the road for the first time this season, so it will be a mental test for the Horns to see if they can stand up quickly to an away match in the SEC.
For Ole Miss, it's a chance to move to 3-0 against a definite up-and-comer in the Big 12. The Rebels are coming off two solid performances with plenty of questions to be answered, not at all different than the Longhorns.
Offensively, the Rebels look dangerous, and it will be a true test if they are able to move the ball on one of the Big 12's best defense from last season.
Key Player for Texas: Daje Johnson
The Longhorns got a welcomed bump in athleticism and talent when freshman Daje Johnson appeared in his first game of the season after missing last week due to suspension.
With his first touch and his 45-yard touchdown, Johnson's speed was supremely evident, and his influence on the Texas running game will be something to watch in the coming weeks as he looks to solidify his role among a great corps of running backs.
Johnson's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, in addition to his ground game exploits, make him a great target for a multitude of looks in a motion-heavy Texas offense that really uses the edge to create space.
And while the Longhorns do have their speed options in D.J. Monroe and freshman Johnathan Gray, Johnson definitely possesses something special to ignite the offense.
Look for the Longhorns to get Johnson more involved this weekend as they look to move to 3-0 on the season against SEC's cellar.
Key Player for Ole Miss: Bo Wallace
The JUCO transfer Wallace is the catalyst for an Ole Miss offense that looks pretty legitimate. The Rebels have moved the ball well in both phases against inferior opponents, but they get a real test against the Longhorns.
Wallace has thrown five touchdowns to just one interception through two games to go along with 135 rushing yards and two scores. He is a dual-threat quarterback that has find a rhythm early if the Rebels are to establish themselves in the game.
The Longhorns actually met with Wallace briefly to gauge interest in each other, but the Mississippi native chose Oxford over Austin.
Texas Will Win If...
Texas will win if it controls the clock and minimizes mistakes.
The Longhorns have done a great job of the latter, but controlling the clock will be play in good favor for a win in Oxford.
Defensively, another strong performance will prove critical in determining the outcome, but it will also be Texas' first road trip of the year and the first of two consecutive away games.
Controlling Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is essential in getting stops against the Rebels' offense. As a threat to run as well as pass, pressure early and often could rattle Wallace who has not really been tested against a strong defense.
Ole Miss Will Win If...
Ole Miss will win if its offense finds a groove early.
Texas is notorious for slow starts in recent years, and if the Longhorns stumble coming out of the gate on Saturday, a Rebels offense that is quick to find its feet will be troublesome for the Longhorns.
The Longhorns have seen mobile quarterbacks in both of their games so far this season, so if Wallace can find the right moves in the right coverage, the pieces could fall in place for a good offensive showing.
Defensively, Ole Miss has to get stops. Taking away the run is critical, but preventing the big play is even more essential against a Texas offense full of speedsters and home-run hitters.
It is a good test for both teams on Saturday.
Texas gets its first road game of the season in what should be an energetic atmosphere in Oxford. Ole Miss, meanwhile, gets to challenge its offense against a more than formidable defense that has had its early struggles.
But the Longhorns have shown good resiliency and ability to make adjustments during the game, and that could prove to be the difference in a contest that gets decided late.
Strong defensive performances lead to some scores, and it will be a good, physical battle for both.