The 2023 faculty soccer common season concludes this weekend and for No. 13 Ole Miss it comes with the normal brief week and the battle in opposition to in-state rival Mississippi State within the Egg Bowl.
Thursday marks the one hundred and twentieth assembly between the Rebels (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Convention) and the Bulldogs (5-6, 1-6) and there may be loads at stake for every. The guests have an opportunity to safe a second 10-win common season within the final three years and hold the dream of a historic 11-win season alive whereas the house workforce is attempting to earn bowl eligibility and never depend on its APR standing to again door right into a bowl sport.
Whoever is having the higher season or if each Ole Miss and Mississippi State are having comparable seasons it by no means issues as soon as the ball is kicked off on this Thanksgiving evening custom — although that is likely to be altering quickly — and the Egg Bowl is all the time a nasty and shut 60 minutes of soccer when it shouldn’t be on paper.
To offer some extra perception on Mississippi State the Ole Miss Spirit spoke with Paul Jones of Maroon and White Day by day to reply 5 questions concerning the Bulldogs heading into Thursday’s showdown in Starkville.
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Ole Miss Spirit: How efficient do you see Will Rogers being his second sport again after lacking 4 straight in the course of the season?
Paul Jones: Rogers had an honest sport in opposition to Southern Miss however he was clearly rusty, as anybody could be with that a lot day off the sector. And earlier than his damage, Rogers was struggling to seek out consistency (outdoors of the South Carolina sport) for many of the season. A few of it was as a result of offensive adjustments he confronted though I assumed this offense could be a greater match for him.
Rogers is clearly State’s most suitable choice at quarterback, nonetheless, and the offense is best with him than with out him. I do anticipate Rogers to place forth a greater sport Thursday than what we noticed in opposition to Southern Miss.
Ole Miss Spirit: What, if any, adjustments had been evident with Mississippi State beneath Greg Knox in opposition to Southern Mississippi or was it much like an Arnett-called sport?
PJ: Together with his background as a working backs coach, it’s no shock that Knox prefers to run the ball. Towards Southern Miss they had been extra run-heavy on offense with 47 run makes an attempt and 27 move makes an attempt. To be truthful, I do suppose State’s floor sport has been strong many of the 12 months and it’s even higher with Woody Marks again enjoying once more.
State has a deep steady of working backs with Marks, Jeffery Pittman and Seth Davis. I might be stunned in the event that they didn’t focus extra on the bottom sport once more on Thursday. Holding Ole Miss’ offense off the sector and having success on the bottom can be a key issue.
Ole Miss Spirit: What has been the most important wrestle for the Mississippi State offense this season in your eyes because it shifted away from the air raid assault beneath Mike Leach?
PJ: Actually arduous to pinpoint only one factor. The quarterback play has been sub-par, the offensive line has been inconsistent though higher at run blocking, and the receivers have had a number of dropped passes of late. So mainly, it was an adjustment for the entire positions and no place has improved primarily based off final 12 months.
In fact, final 12 months’s air-raid offense additionally struggled with Mike Leach in cost and he ran the pure air-raid offense. There’s been a particular person performances this 12 months by a number of guys on offense that had been spectacular. However consistency has been an actual challenge together with penalties and lack of communication.
Ole Miss Spirit: After seeing the struggles the Ole Miss offensive line has had the previous two video games, and actually a season-long theme, how do you see Mississippi State’s defensive entrance faring on Thursday?
PJ: State’s defensive entrance has had good moments this 12 months however an absence of a move rush has been a constant theme. Final 12 months Tyrus Wheat was disruptive on the sam linebacker place however State has not been capable of substitute that manufacturing in any respect.
The Bulldogs do have veterans up entrance with Jaden Crumedy, Nathan Pickering and De’Monte Russell amongst others. That group has been higher in opposition to the run for many of the season however not attending to the quarterback has additionally hampered the secondary, which was horrible within the first half of the season.
It is going to be attention-grabbing to see that matchup, nonetheless, and it could possibly be a figuring out issue if the Bulldogs had been to drag the upset.
Ole Miss Spirit: With bowl eligibility at stake and this being the Egg Bowl how do you see this sport going with motivation not being a problem for Mississippi State?
PJ: Surprisingly sufficient, I believe there may be extra motivation for the Bulldogs with the darkish cloud of Zach Arnett’s future being lifted. It’s a mismatch on paper however State actually has nothing to lose and may play with that mindset on Thursday. Not many people outdoors the State locker room anticipate them to win the Egg Bowl however we’ve seen stranger issues occur on Thanksgiving evening earlier than on this rivalry.
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