Results tagged “Tennessee”
The winning formula revealed itself as it has throughout the season: a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense. The Ole Miss defense forced four turnovers, while the Ole Miss offense did not commit a single turnover in a workmanlike 34-3 win over Tennessee on Saturday night.
In addition to four turnovers, the Rebels held the Volunteers to 191 yards of total offense, including zero rushing yards, due in large part to a season-high seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
"If you look at the stats, which everyone does, you have to figure, if we can score 17 to 20, to the mid 20's, we have a chance to win a lot of games with the way they're playing," head coach Hugh Freeze said.
Stat-wise, head coach Hugh Freeze called it the best performance from the defensive line in his two-plus years at Ole Miss.
"We got consistent pressure with just the front four," Freeze said. "We blitzed very few times. And we held a team to zero rushing yards. When you make somebody one-dimensional, you have a good chance to be successful."
More than any other stat, and there are a lot of good stats on the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack points to Tennessee finishing with zero rushing yards on 28 attempts.
"That's the number one thing on your sheet when you talk to them on Sunday about what you have to do to beat the next team," Wommack said. "If you can do that, you're going to win pretty consistently. You're going to get off the field because we're good enough in pass rush and in coverage. If we get you in second- and third-and-long situations, it's difficult to score and move the ball on us."
Freshman Marquis Haynes, the reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, led the way up front with 2.5 sacks, giving him 4.5 sacks over the last two games and 6.5 sacks for the season.
"I have been saying it since August, he's probably going to break the sack record here," junior defensive end C.J. Johnson said. "He's that good. He's going to be a really good player for us the rest of the season. He's been what everybody on our defense expected."
On the back end of the defense, the Rebels' extended their streak to 30 games where they forced at least one turnover. In the process, senior cornerback Senquez Golson picked off two passes, giving him seven interceptions for the season.
"He's been in the right place at the right time," Wommack said. "He's played technique so well. It's good for our team. It depends on how they want to attack us. He's done a great job for us."
Offensively, Ole Miss was balanced, rushing for 180 yards and passing for 203 yards, exploding for 14 points in the span of four minutes late in the first half and extending the lead in the second half.
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace was efficient, completing 13-of-28 passes for 199 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. More importantly, he made it four SEC games without a turnover.
"That is music to my ears," co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said. "We obviously didn't play great. I know our stats weren't very good, but we did not turn the ball over. That's the thing I have been harping on with those guys.
"With the way our defense is playing, if we protect the football, we have a really good chance to win games."
The Rebels are 7-0 for just the second time in school history, and it's no secret what the winning formula has been.
"We try to set the tempo for the whole football team," Johnson said. "We know our offense is capable of scoring points and they have a lot of playmakers."
Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss faces Tennessee for Homecoming on Saturday.
'Third Down for What'
Tennessee is very dangerous, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze said, because its talented, particularly if it gets momentum and confidence during the course of the game.
The talents starts on defense, led by senior middle linebacker A.J. Johnson, a preseason All-American who leads the Southeastern Conference in tackles per game (11.3). Tennessee ranks top-20 nationally in scoring defense (19.2 ppg allowed), total defense (316.3 ypg allowed) and passing defense (160.2 ypg allowed).
One of the more interesting situational matchups will be third downs, where Tennessee leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in defensive third-down conversion (26.4 percent), and Ole Miss ranks fifth in the SEC and 22nd nationally in offensive third-down conversion (46.8 percent).
"They have good cover guys and they have good athletes and can play some man coverage to get after you with the pass rush," Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke said. "They have a nice third-down package where they bring in some more speed and take out a D-lineman. They're flying around and playing really hard, playing with an edge."
Landsharks Not Satisfied
The Ole Miss defense has been regarded as one of the best in the nation, if not the best in the nation, giving up just 11.8 points per game, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally.
The Rebels are also tied for the SEC lead and eighth nationally with 16 turnovers forced, as they have scored almost as many touchdowns (4) as they have allowed this season (6).
Ole Miss shut out Texas A&M in the first half but allowed three second-half touchdowns, including two touchdowns on the last three drives of the game, which has not sit well with members of the defense.
"That was aggravating for us," senior safety Cody Prewitt said. "We want to be the No. 1 defense in the nation. For them to score 20 points on us is aggravating for all of us. That's one thing we have taken upon ourselves. We have a couple more games to prove we are the defense that people think we are."
"We gave up way too many points," senior cornerback Senquez Golson said. "It was a great thing we won, but after the game as a defense, we talked and said that it was not acceptable if you want the big games."
Big Games for Wallace, Nkemdiche?
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace is coming off his lowest passing total, having completed 13-of-19 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions, but it didn't matter because the running game topped 150 yards and the defense accounted for two touchdowns in a 35-20 win over Texas A&M.
Depending on the flow of the game, Saturday might present an opportunity for Wallace to air it out and help his campaign for individual awards and honors.
"One thing he's done for us, when our defense is playing well, we're really trying to manage the game," said Freeze of Wallace. "His numbers the other night could have been a lot better because we had some things in the passing game. In that environment, when you're playing in front of 110,000 who are itching to be a factor in the game, the last thing I want to do is give them anything to be excited about."
Like Wallace, sophomore defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche finds himself in the conversation for individual awards and honors, having been named to various outlets' midseason All-America team and added to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List.
Nkemdiche has put up modest numbers, totaling 14 tackles with a tackle for loss and one sack, and now faces a Tennessee offensive line that ranks last in the SEC and 121st nationally, giving up 3.83 sacks per game.
"He does so many good things in there, but his production's just not up as far as stats and numbers," Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin said. "But as far as technique and all that, he's constantly getting better like I've always said about him."
Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Tessitore recalls calling the first college game for the Rebels' star-studded sophomore class, Tebow talks about Bo Wallace's improvement as a quarterback, and Spears sees similarities between this year's Ole Miss team and his 2003 LSU team that won the national championship.
SEC Nation Host Joe Tessitore
On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...
"When I have done Ole Miss games before, I always get to the stadium early, so I can walk through The Grove and take that all in. It should be pretty special to have the SEC Nation set fired up.
"When you look at our set, it should scream Ole Miss to you. When you look at it, you know what you're watching. That's one of the things I like about our set. You look at it and you know you're watching grand Southern football. It fits in beautifully here. It looks like it could be part of your campus.
"I like how open it is, and it allows us to play to the crowd. You will see us tomorrow, when we're live on the air, stand up, turn to the crowd and interact with them during commercial breaks. This is a magic ride kind of season here, so it's going to be a celebratory kind of morning."
On the sophomore class, having called their first college game...
"That group, you knew. I could remember that afternoon, sitting there and hyping up (Robert) Nkemdiche in his debut, and you just knew it was going to happen. And to be able to say a year later that they have even over-delivered on all the hype, it's true.
"It was an incredible recruiting class that, in a span of 18 months, has Ole Miss competing for a national title. That's as good as a group you're going to see. But it takes that kind of a group. It takes guys who buy in and all believe. Laquon Treadwell was a huge part of that.
"I'm one of those geeks who follow recruiting, so I know the role he played in corralling everyone and buying into the vision early, a vision that's pretty easy to buy when Hugh Freeze is selling it."
SEC Nation Analyst Tim Tebow
On Ole Miss...
"What stands out is the heart they play with offensively and defensively. Everybody talks about the Landshark defense flying around, but you look at guys like Jaylen Walton fighting through tackles. That's just heart. They play together and they play as a family.
"Spending the day with Coach Freeze and the team yesterday, you could really see that and the environment they set. It seems like it's a fun time for all these players right now."
On Bo Wallace...
"He's improved a lot. In SEC play, he doesn't have a turnover. He's making big plays, but he's also not making big errors in the biggest of games. That's been huge, especially when you have a big-time defense.
"What I like most about Bo is that courage and leadership and that 'it' factor he has, like on that 3rd-and-9 last week versus Texas A&M.
"He knows where the sticks are, he fights through the line of scrimmage and he dives and goes over a defender to get the first down. That ultimately led to a touchdown, and they went up 28-7 and that was a huge play in the game. He has that 'it' that you can't necessarily teach."
SEC Nation Analyst Marcus Spears
On the backdrop of The Grove for SEC Nation...
"It's awesome. We should have a pretty good crowd. This is their network. That's how we resonate on campus. People understand we're more personable and we know the history of each school. It will resonate with people, and hopefully it's hyped up out here. It's a pretty big game.
"Tennessee is not whatever they think they are. Tennessee has played everybody down to the wire. They have lost some close games. They're one of those teams on the cusp. The energy in the crowd should be good tomorrow."
On Robert Nkemdiche...
"He's a man's man. He's a beast. He plays with a high intensity level. He can knock guys back and he has great bend. I know I sound like a pro scout, but he can win with leverage and he wins with tenacity. He has it all, all of the tools. He can be a D-end or a D-tackle in the NFL. That poses a lot of problems for offensive lines.
"First of all, you can move him, and he can be as effective from different positions. That's what I like about him. More than anything, I like his attitude and I like the way he plays."
On the transformation of Ole Miss under head coach Hugh Freeze...
"Coach Freeze has done a tremendous job. He's implemented a philosophy with this football team. He's put guys in place and he's recruited well. In order to stay atop this league, you have to have players. That's what it really boils down to.
"All these coaches, we call them great, and we say they won so many games. It's about these players. The coaches, structurally, put them in the right position and put them in successful spots to make plays, but it comes down to the talent and the talent level.
"We talk about Alabama, LSU, Auburn, all these schools that have been at the top. It's about talent, and now Hugh Freeze has a team that's as talented as anybody in the country.
"You have a great quarterback who's playing really consistent right now, not turning the football over, offensive line, (Laquon) Treadwell out on the corner making plays.
"And this defense. It reminds me of the '03 LSU Tigers. It's a good mix, and it's a great group of talent, and it's coming together. Everybody is believing in what they're doing. That's to Coach Freeze's credit. It's about those guys he's putting out there on the football field, and I'm sure he would tell you the same thing."
On comparisons between the 2003 LSU team and this year's Ole Miss team...
"It starts with winning games. It starts with a belief system that you can compete against anybody in the country, that you have the talented and the play-makers to win every football game. That was our train of thought. We thought we were stacked in enough positions that there was no team you could roll out in college football and say LSU was not physically better or LSU did not have level of talent.
"Ole Miss is in that same boat right now. Alabama has a tremendous amount of talent like they have always had, but if you go man for man in the whole country, I stack this Ole Miss team up against anybody, especially on defense."
On the Ole Miss running game...
"What Ole Miss is doing as well as anybody right now, is they're winning games defensively, and you can do it. That has been proven in the NFL and that has been proven in college, but I think Bo Wallace gives them the extra oomph that they need to win big games and put themselves in position to be in the College Football Playoff.
"The run game is a little different. Sometimes your team ins't built that way, but throwing these quick bubble screens is the same as a handoff. Getting these guys in space to make plays in the open fields is the equivalent of a handoff. Everything is not deep down the field.
"We look at turning around and handing the ball off to the running back as the run game. A lot of these teams are revolutionizing that by throwing quick hitches to receivers, then they beat a corner and they might go to the house. They have implemented stuff like that to help them out a lot.
"Eventually, it will come town to a game or this year, where they will have to figure out to establish the run game. If they can, they will have success. They are just as good as anybody, if they show they can do that."
On the Ole Miss defense...
"You have to overcome to so much as a football team playing against this defense. The way they play, not only the way they play, but they creative turnovers. And that's huge.
"A team can only give up 305 yards per game, which they consider pretty good, and they only gave 70-80 rushing yards, and they consider that pretty good, but when you have a defense like this that does that and creates turnovers and scores, it's tough to beat.
"We led the league in scoring touchdowns on defense when we won the national championship. It's a formula that you can win with, and they have the guys to do it."
With a dominant defense that ranks among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories, head coach Hugh Freeze acknowledged he has changed his offensive philosophy and play-calling to limit negative plays and quick possessions.
Ole Miss averaged the second-most offensive plays (74.0) in the SEC in 2012 and averaged the most offensive plays (78.3) in the SEC in 2013. Through six games this season, the Rebels average a more modest 70.8 plays per game, which ranks ninth in the SEC.
"You're more concerned now with not putting yourself in the hole because of negative plays, whether they are turnovers or plays of minus-two yards or minus-three yards," Freeze said. "When you go fast, the possibilities increase as defenses catch up to it."
The more deliberate tempo has also helped quarterback Bo Wallace manage the game more and allowed the team to play to its strength on defense.
"When the defense has played like it's playing, you just want to make sure you manage the game from an offensive perspective, where it gives you the best advantage to win," Freeze said.
O-Line Continues to Progress
Fahn Cooper has started every game at right tackle, but he's made great strides of late, as he graded out well and helped Ole Miss play a clean game with only two penalties, two sacks allowed and zero turnovers against Texas A&M.
"He played more, and then we tried to work (Robert) Conyers in at center," said offensive line coach Matt Luke of Cooper. "That plays a factor, too. I have a lot of confidence in Robert, but Fahn has obviously been getting better each and every week."
Another offensive lineman who has made great strides is freshman offensive guard Rod Taylor, who continues to play more snaps as the season progresses, and Luke will look to play him more this week against Tennessee.
"Rod had probably his best week of practice last week and this week," Luke said. "He's just a very, very talented young man. He has got a bright, bright future ahead, and you're going to see him play a little bit more this week. I wrote that down in my notes when he got in there. He was very productive. He needs to be playing more, and he will."
Webster Impresses in First Career Start
With the suspension of Rover safety Trae Elston for the first half against Texas A&M, Mike Hilton slid over from cornerback to Elston's spot, and Kendarius Webster made his first career start at cornerback.
Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones said Webster did well, noting his maturity for his age, as helped Ole Miss pitch a first-half shutout against Texas A&M.
"In fall camp and practice, we put him up against Laquon to see how he would hold up, and at times, he held his own," Jones said. "If he continues to work, like I think he will, he's going to end up being a really good player."
Coaches continue to rave about Hilton, who's now started at four positions in the Ole Miss secondary in three seasons. The do-it-all player ranks second on the team with 34 tackles and leads the teams and ranks second in the SEC with six pass breakups.
"Mike is a sharp football player," Jones said. "He understands it. He's played every position in the secondary, almost every position on the dense except for defensive line. He's a coachable young man.
"Whatever you ask him to do, it's always, 'Yes, sir.' We came in and had to move him to Rover, and he said, 'OK, coach, whatever I need to do to help the team.' That's the attitude he has. He's smart and he can get out there and execute and play fast."
Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Tennessee head coach Butch Jones on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Oxford.
For the full SEC teleconference, go here.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at 1:04:00 mark)
"We're looking forward to another great SEC football game here in Oxford. I know our fans are enjoying the year we're having, and it's always good to play in front of them and the excitement we have here in town. It's an extremely talented Tennessee team.
"The job that Coach Jones has done there in a short amount of time is impressive. They're scary on tape because they're hungry and they're playing very passionate football with great young talent. We're going to have to play another solid game for us to have a chance on Saturday."
On the development of cornerback Senquez Golson...
"The first thing I probably need to point out is how much he has changed as a person, which is the key to why he's playing better. He's always been a talented kid. When I first got here, I definitely questioned whether he had the heart, drive and discipline to be quality enough to play in a program like this. I think he would tell you the same.
"Now that he has made the decision to be dedicated and be a team player who buys into our core values and the way we want do things, his talent on the field has really taken off. He dedicated himself this year in the offseason to be the best he can be. And I'm thrilled he's getting the results on the field."
On avoiding a letdown game against Tennessee...
"I don't know that you can. You depend on the leadership of the team. I know our coaches are peaching the right things to them. If our team vales their standing right now, they will certainly come out and play. I don't know if you are always going to have your team emotionally charged, but it's very possible to play with passion. It shows in the way you pursue the football on defense and the way you execute on offense.
"I don't really worry too much about that. I know it's a popular question, but if we're ready to take the next step and value our standing, then you will be accountable to doing that, and that's the message they hear from us consistently."
On quarterback's Bo Wallace lack of turnovers in SEC play, whether it's maturation or better decision-making by him...
"I think it's both, and we have changed some that has helped him. With our defense playing so well this year, I have really been trying to manage the game differently.
"Bo has understood and accepted that, and he's had to make to make plays when he's made them. He's definitely much more mature and understands now we don't have to score every possession. He can make better decision when things aren't there."
On whether he expected this type of defensive success before the season...
"I did. I began to question that when we lost two starters and one backup in Tee Shepard, Chief Brown and Carlos Davis. Tee was going to be a really vital part to give us a long, rangy corner that could win a lot of 1-on-1 battles. Chief is an experienced kid that has played a lot of snaps for us.
"You begin to doubt what would happen if we have more injuries like we did last year. Fortunately, we have not. I did feel like we were going to pretty good up front, which I know is the starting point. And I knew we were longer and faster."
On adjusting offensive tempo and play-calling in two-plus years at Ole Miss...
"I have definitely changed this year. We're not as concerned about tempo in a consistent manner. We still do it, and we'll have spurts of it. I kind of did a study last year, and we had too many negative plays in tempo.
"Some of the change has to do with our defense. We have recruited well and built this team around the defense. The last thing you need is a lot of quick possessions and creating negative plays, where you don't convert first downs. I have changed this year, and we have tried to manage the game quite a bit differently."
On similarities between Ole Miss and Tennessee...
"The first thing I see is they have recruited extremely well. None of us are great coaches without players who can make plays. Coach Jones and his staff have certainly done that. They have tremendous young talent. That's how we were after our first full recruiting class. We played a ton of freshmen just like they're doing.
"Those freshmen are scary. They're obviously young and make mistakes sometimes, just like ours did and still do. They are so talented. It's a scary talent because not only have they recruited well, but they're playing with hunger and passion, which I think we did in our first couple of years also.
"We were in a lot of games where maybe we didn't stack up as well. We were in a lot of games with those teams. That's what they're proving this year, and it's only a matter of time before they break through."
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones (starts at 40:50 mark)
"It's a great, great challenge going up against a very, very solid football team. They're very complete in all areas -- offense, defense and special teams. They're very well-coached and play with an entire mentality. They're the No. 2 in scoring defense in the country. They returned nine of their 11 starters from last year, and their backups have had significant playing time as well. They take the ball away.
"Offensively, it starts with their quarterback Bo Wallace. He's been very competitive, gritty, andy e's playing winning football. It's going to be a tremendous, tremendous challenge for this football team."
On the Ole Miss defense...
"They have been very dominant. And it starts up front. They have been able to win the line-of-scrimmage game. Their linebackers are very, very active, downhill players, very physical, and they have a tremendous, tremendous secondary.
"They're playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger right now, and again, they're very, very physical. It's a very, very complete defense, when you look at all levels of their defense, starting up front, then the linebacker position and then in the backend as well. They feed off of each other, and you can see where they have played a lot of football together as well."
On points at a premium against the Ole Miss defense...
"You do (expect points to be at a premium). You look at how many touchdown they have given up, and a lot of those touchdowns were in end-of-game situations. When you go into a game like this, every point is critical. And field position becomes critical as well."
On the status of running backs Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd...
"I do expect them. Jalen is progressing exceptionally well. He has not missed a rep in practice. Marlin is a little bit slower than Jalen right now in terms of getting back, but he did practice. Again, there's time yet. They're getting extra treatments. I fully anticipate Jalen will play, and we're hoping Marlin will be available as well."
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Tennessee.
The Ole Miss official website, OleMissSports.com, and the SEC official website, SECSports.com, will have continuous coverage of SEC Football Media Days, as will ESPNU, ESPN and Watch ESPN.
Star power lacking at SEC Media Days, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press
SEC enters new world: Covering itself on TV channel, writes Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com
The best of Steve Spurrier's media day, writes Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com
South Carolina's energetic Spurrier still on top of his game -- and winning, writes Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com
Wild, Wild West: Bulldogs' Mullen trying to chart course for Atlanta, writes Logan Lowery of the Daily Journal
Take Five: Mississippi State, Mullen lay out their bold plans, writes Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger
Dak Prescott, the SEC's newest star, takes the big stage, writes Bob Carskadon of HailState.com
Looking for the next Steve Spurrier? Look right at Kevin Sumlin and smile, writes Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com
Minus Manziel, Aggies escape microscope, writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com
Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin treating Manziel like Johnny Forgotten, writes Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com
Vols hoping for more in Jones' second season, writes Wes Rucker of govols247.com
Butch Jones, Vols enter season optimistic, writes Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com
Ole Miss carries its four-game winning streak into Wednesday night's game at Tennessee (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network), where the Rebels routed the Volunteers, 92-74, in last year's meeting.
As of Tuesday, Ole Miss is No. 57 in the RPI, according to ESPN.com. The Rebels are 2-4 against the RPI top 100, with wins over LSU and Vanderbilt and losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. A win over Tennessee, currently rated No. 53 in the RPI, would be the their fifth road win and their best RPI win of the season, with LSU currently the highest rated win at No. 65 in the RPI.
"We're a pretty confident group," said head coach Andy Kennedy in Monday's media opportunity. "We have won four straight. It's just the next game for us. It's obviously a huge opportunity anytime you get a chance to play a team in the top 60 in the RPI. We all know how the RPI is balanced where they give you a lot more weight if you find a way to break through on the road because everyone realizes how difficult that is."
Different Tennessee Team From Last Year
With the return of Jeronne Maymon from injury and the addition of Memphis transfer Antonio Barton, it's a different Tennessee team from last year's two meetings, which were both Ole Miss wins. Jordan McRae leads the team, averaging 18.5 points per game, while Maymon and Jarnell Stokes combine for 24.6 points and 17.8 rebounds per game.
Stokes and Maymon are ranked second and third, respectively, in the Southeastern Conference in rebounding. As a team, Tennessee ranks second in the SEC in rebounding margin at +8.9 rebounds per game, and leads the league limiting opponents to 30.6 rebounds per game. The Volunteers also lead the league in defensive rebound percentage (71.5 percent), and rank second in offensive rebound percentage (41.7 percent).
"This (Tennessee) group has experienced a lot, and they're big and physical, so we have to make sure we buckle that chinstrap and understand that there will be nothing easy in Knoxville," Kennedy said.
Ole Miss' Formula For Success
For Ole Miss, the formula for success, as Kennedy said Monday, is pretty simple. It starts with Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers, who are both ranked in the top eight among scorers in the SEC.
Henderson leads the SEC and ranks third in the nation averaging 4.19 3-pointers per game, and has hit a 3-pointer in a school record 52-straight games. Summers has increased his scoring by 8.9 points per game from last season, and ranks in the top five in the SEC in both assists (3.6 assists/game) and field goal percentage (51.7 percent).
"Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards not only in the SEC but in college basketball," said Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin on Monday's SEC teleconference. "Jarvis is putting up tremendous numbers, as far as 55 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field at the point guard position. He's physically strong. Marshall does what he's good at doing, which is making shots, getting open and making plays."
Ole Miss also has to get contributions from a number of different guys, particularly in the frontcourt. Anthony Perez has averaged 14.7 points per game over the last three games, including a career-high 22 points at South Carolina.
Aaron Jones is ranked third in the SEC with 2.6 blocks per game, and has pulled down double-digit rebounds in three of the last four games, while Sebastian Saiz has averaged 8.0 rebounds per game over the last four games.
Martavious Newby, another one of those contributors, will be out at least this week as he recovers from a hand injury suffered in Saturday's win over Mississippi State. With Newby's injury, LaDarius White, Derrick Millinghaus and Janari Joesaar will have expanded roles on the perimeter, and it could also mean more minutes for the players in the frontcourt.
"There's an opportunity there," said Kennedy on Monday's SEC teleconference. "And as we discussed after the (Mississippi State) game, even though his numbers don't jump off the page at you, people who cover us understand the importance of Newby and the energy and toughness that he brings. He's probably our best on-ball defender on the perimeter, so there are a number of different areas that he was very helpful to us. We will have to do it by committee, whether that's a guy playing a few more minutes here or there in different combinations, or opportunities for new guys. That will all be determined moving forward."
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy met with members of the media Monday, ahead of the Rebels traveling to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Tennessee Volunteers on Wednesday night (7 p.m. CT, SEC Network).
On Tennessee being comparable to Ole Miss:
They're a little different that us. They're really physical up front. Last year, they didn't have (Jeronne) Maymon, and now he's back. When you talk about him and (Jarnell) Stokes, that's a heck of a tag team. They're both built, physical kids. They're skilled. It's a little different matchup for us, as it relates to the physicality that they're going to present up front.
And then when you throw in Jordan McRae in there, you're talking about two of those guys are seniors and a junior who has played a lot of minutes. Jordan McRae is probably as explosive a scorer from the wing as there is in our league. He's a guy who has a chance to be Player of the Year in the league. They picked up a fifth-year guy in Antonio Barton, who transferred from Memphis. He's experienced and has played in big games before.
They have a number of different weapons. They have size off their bench. We had success in there last year simply because we went in and made a bunch of baskets. We scored 92 points, and if we can do that again this year, I would feel better about our chances, but that remains to be seen.
On what Florida did to limit Tennessee offensively in the Gators' 67-41 win on Saturday:
They really struggled shooting the ball. Florida is the best defensive team in our league and one of the best in the country. They don't lose many in Gator Alley. The best of the best have been in there and left with their heads down simply because they take you out of offense and they don't give you second-chance opportunities. Tennessee is very good off the offensive glass, so Florida was good in their first-shot defense, limiting them getting any second-chance opportunities and kept them out of rhythm the whole game.
On defending Tennessee compared to defending LSU:
It's different based on the physical makeup of their team. When you think LSU, I think long and athletic. They have smaller guards, but their frontline with Jordan Mickey, (Johnny O'Bryant) and Jerrell Martin are all very long and athletic, and really inexperienced with two of those kids being freshmen. This (Tennessee) group has experienced a lot, and they're big and physical, so we have to make sure we buckle that chinstrap and understand that there will be nothing easy in Knoxville.
On what a win at Tennessee would do for the team's confidence:
We're a pretty confident group. We have won four straight. It's just the next game for us. It's obviously a huge opportunity anytime you get a chance to play a team in the top 60 in the RPI. We all know how the RPI is balanced where they give you a lot more weight if you find a way to break through on the road because everyone realizes how difficult that is.
Florida and us are the only two teams in the league with multiple road wins to this point. That again speaks to how difficult it is to go in and win on the road. We'll formulate a game plan, and hopefully when the moments arise, our players will rise up and make a play and that will ultimately decide it.
On the four-game winning streak dating back to the win over LSU:
Our formula is pretty simple, and you will hear me say this all year. Jarvis has established himself as one of the best guards in the league, and he's playing that way. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in him. He's given us leadership that is above and beyond. Marshall is Marshall. Marshall is the only guy in the country who can go 4-for-15 and be the lead story. He's the only guy can go 2-for-12 and be the MVP of the game. He's a different guy. He has an ability to make shots, and he made a lot of them in there last year, so I'm sure a lot of attention will be paid toward him, and we have to do a good job of playing off that. He has to make his share, and then we have to play the way the defense determines.
We have to get contributions from a number of different guys, and we're getting those. Anthony Perez has put together the best three-game run of his early career. Sebas(tian) (Saiz) is continuing to produce for us. AJ (Aaron Jones) is getting more and more confident as we approach the year anniversary of his knee injury. He's getting more confident in understanding his role, not as a spot guy, but a guy who is instrumental in us winning or losing. Dwight Coleby is starting to help us a little bit more. Bear (Demarco Cox) is showing he's certainly capable. We got to get Snoop (White), Derrick (Millinghaus), and Janari (Joesaar) will have an expanded role with the injury to Newby, so we have to continue to get contributions from a number of different guys.
On any discipline for Marshall Henderson from his exchange of words with Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray:
Rick, at the end of the game in the hallway, when I was done with the media, he came up to me and apologized and said that he had said something to Marshall. I didn't even know what he was talking about. I see it on the tape, and the camera caught him mouthing something. That's not an issue for us. I don't foresee anything happening moving forward from our standpoint.
On players' awareness of the RPI:
I got the United Nations in my locker room. I hit them with the APR, GPA, and I'm not even sure they know what NCAA is, most of them. You're inundated with it. They watch college basketball like we watch college basketball, and it's talked about 24/7. They obviously understand. Now, they probably don't get the formula; I don't get the formula. Sometimes I think I figured it out, and then something happens, and the line shifts on me sporadically.
We're through a third of the SEC season. That's hard to believe, and it's easier to break it down that way. We're through 6 of the 18 (league games). We went 5-1, and if we can do that in the next two quadrants, we'll be in pretty good shape. We understand the importance of the game. The guys know that Tennessee is a good basketball team, and they will know it exponentially after we go through it the next 48 hours.
On Sebastian Saiz and Aaron Jones being more assertive and physical inside:
We are getting more physical. AJ is becoming more confident in his ability to bounce up and get out-of-area rebounds, which is something we needs to do for us. Sebas is getting more experienced in understanding what he needs to do to grab them at this level. Our guards are getting better. Anthony is helping us in that regard. Sometimes we play him at the 3, and sometimes we play him at the 4. Marshall and Jarvis's rebounding numbers have gone up since we have gotten into league play. We're second in the league -- one blocked shot behind LSU -- for the blocked shots lead in the league in SEC play and leading the league in field goal percentage defense, from an efficiency standpoint, in league play. We're doing a lot of good things on that side of the ball with turnover margin, and rebounding percentages have gone up.
We were trying to block too many shots and taking ourselves out of position. We didn't understand when to go and when not to go. Many times you get blocked shots off the ball. If it's an off-the-ball big, and he doesn't get it, then you're pretty naked on the other side of the rim, and that's where we were really getting hurt with second shots. Our guys are doing a better job of understanding when to go, and we have really tried to emphasize guards getting to the level of the ball, so when they do go to block a shot, we have bodies on bodies on the other side of the ball.
On Dwight Coleby's minutes changing with the injury to Martavious Newby:
I'm trying to get more out of him because he gives us an athleticism and a big physical body who's probably more similar to Reggie, from his ability to block a shot than even AJ, even though AJ blocks a lot of shots. Coleby gives us more of that Reggie basket protector, and so I'm trying to get him to go. He's a freshman, and these are high-level games, and I'm not quite as patient as I am right now.
On Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon being a measuring stick for the Ole Miss frontcourt:
It's going to be a challenge. They're two of the best in the league, and they're going to present some issues for us. Through six games, we know who we are, and we have to do a better job of being disciplined and playing to our strengths.
Full transcript of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin and South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. The Rebels travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to play the Volunteers on Wednesday (7 p.m., SEC Network) and then return home to play the Gamecocks on Saturday (12:30 p.m., SEC Network).
It's a big challenge going into Knoxville Wednesday night. Cuonzo has a very good basketball team, anchored by those two big boys up front. Jordan McRae is having a Player of the Year-type season to this point, so we know there will be a number of challenges that we will have to face.
On Martavious Newby's surgery and timetable for his return:
We don't know as far as timetable. The surgery was successful. They put a plate in his hand. If it was a football player, they would tape it up, pad it, and he could probably play within a week or so based on pain tolerance. With it involving the ability to catch the ball, that's not an option for us. It will be a day-to-day thing. He will certainly be out this week, and honestly it will be week-to-week depending on how quickly he responds to the procedure.
On replacing Martavious Newby:
There's an opportunity there. And as we discussed after the (Mississippi State) game, even though his numbers don't jump off the page at you, people who cover us understand the importance of Newby and the energy and toughness that he brings. He's probably our best on-ball defender on the perimeter, so there are a number of different areas that he was very helpful to us. We will have to do it by committee, whether that's a guy playing a few more minutes here or there in different combinations, or opportunities for new guys. That will all be determined moving forward.
On Ole Miss leading the SEC with 7.1 blocked shots per game:
Last year, we lost the all-time leading shot-blocker in the history of our program and a guy who I think finished in the top five in the SEC's history in Reginald Buckner. This year, it's a little different. We're doing it by committee. Aaron Jones is leading our team. He is very active, he has quick hands, and he is long. He's a different shot-blocker than Reg, though, in that he probably does as much on the perimeter as he does at the basket. He's really quick off his feet and he has the ability to get his hand on a lot of balls.
And then the rest of our guys, everybody just has that skill set. Juan Sebastian Saiz, one of our true freshmen, is really long and has good timing. Dwight Coleby is starting to round into shape after an early season injury, and he's athletic at the basket. Demarco Cox, our other big, has length and size at the rim. It's just really who we are. We have to make good decisions, as to when do we try to block the shot and when to stay in rebounding position. We had some real issues leading into conference play. We have gotten a little better once we have gotten in league play about taking ourselves out of rebounding position by trying to block too many shots. As we have garnered more experience, because we're relatively young up front, guys are having a better of sense in when to go try to block the shot.
On riding a wave of momentum with four straight wins:
The numbers say that we have won four in a row, so I certainly like those numbers. Other than that, we're just trying to get a little better. We're getting contributions from different guys, whether it is some of the young guys I just mentioned or Anthony Perez, who played very little last year. He's probably had his best three-game stretch in his career, as he's garnering more confidence. He's being more productive. As a whole, we're getting contributions from new guys, and as a result, we're playing a little better.
We play a very talented Ole Miss team. They're playing very well, 5-1 in league play. They're shooting the ball well. Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards not only in the SEC but in college basketball. Jarvis is putting up tremendous numbers, as far at 55 percent from 3-point line and 50 percent from the field at the point guard position. He's physical strong. Marshall does what he's good at doing, which is making shots, getting open and making plays. They are a very talented team and do a great job of using their big guys diving to the basket and making plays.
On Jarnell Stokes:
He's done a great job. He comes in and watches film. He was in the gym this morning working out. He's seeing the floor a lot better and making plays. He's better off the dribble. He's aggressive in making moves to the basket. He's rebounding the ball well on both ends of the floor. He's always been a good offensive rebounder, but he's doing a better of getting defensive rebounds and boxing out. He's playing good basketball overall.
Once again, we're excited to play at home. It feels like we have played at home one time all month. Getting around our fans will be great for our players. We play (Texas) A&M, which we just went head-to-head with here shortly ago and then have to turn around, travel again and play at Ole Miss. I'm coaching against two guys with whom I have great personal relationships with and respect tremendously. Both have really good teams. It's an exciting week for us, as every day is, when we realize how lucky we are with what we get to do every day.
On the team's sense of urgency with a 0-6 SEC record:
That is what my job title is directly tied to. I can't put winning games above winning people. Right now, we have to continue to make our guys understand that we're trying to win people. If we can figure out a way to keep our kids excited and connected with who we are, and that we're not that far off, rather than solely focused in on winning and losing games, then that will happen. And eventually, when you win one, your kids feel better because we're so young that you don't them to get discouraged because everyone who reaches out to them in social media is probably discouraged that we're not winning.
My job is to make sure that our guys continue to stay encouraged because we are close. You're at Missouri, and you are down two possessions with 50 seconds to go, so you're right there. You get a stop, make a shot, and now it's a one-possession game, but it didn't happen. We're fighting our tails off to put ourselves in the same place where we could have two, three or four conference wins right now, so we have to keep our kids focused on that.
On progress when looking at the game within the game:
I'm extremely proud of my kids. I have been unhappy after one game, and that was the Georgia game. We did not fight and we never gave ourselves a chance to win. That's the only game that I have been unhappy about. Early in the year, we went into Oklahoma State, and they made the run in the first half, and we fell apart. We just went into Missouri, which is very comparable and very similar to Oklahoma State, and an equal home-court environment. We got down I think 11-0, and next you thing know, it's 20-16, so we have grown as a team.
That's my job. It's to keep my guys focused. My kids are really young, and they don't understand anything yet. I don't have any upperclassmen to make them understand reality. It's my job to get them connected with the fact that even though we might not be getting the results from a win-loss standpoint that we are a better basketball team and these are the reasons why. That way they stay excited about what we're doing, which they are right now, and we can continue to progress.