OLE MISS VS. TEXAS A&M: Game 10 Notes

OLE MISS REBELS (5-4, 1-4 SEC) at TEXAS A&M AGGIES (5-4, 3-3 SEC)

OLE MISS VS. TEXAS A&M: Game 10 Notes November 7, 2018

Date: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018
Time: 11 a.m. CT
Location: College Station, Texas
Venue: Kyle Field (102,733)
Surface: Natural Grass
Series: Texas A&M leads 7-3
    In College Station: Tied 2-2
    Streak: Texas A&M, W1
Live Stats:
Live Audio:
Twitter Updates: @OleMissFB
Television: CBS
Carter Blackburn, Play-by-play
Aaron Taylor, Analyst
Rick Neuheisel, Analyst
John Schriffen, Field Analyst
Satellite Radio: XM 386, Internet 977

• Ole Miss and Texas A&M will be meeting for the 11th time in a series that started in 1911.
• Texas A&M leads the all-time series vs. Ole Miss 7-3 … The series is tied 2-2 in games played in College Station, Texas.
• The Rebels have won three of the last four against the Aggies.
• Ole Miss is the only team in the country to have an individual ranked in the top 20 nationally in passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards.
• The Rebels are first in the SEC in passing (352.8 ypg), second in total offense (546.6) and in scoring (39.0 ppg).
• Ole Miss has thrown for 300 or more yards in seven of its nine games this season, including two games of 400 or more yards.
• QB Jordan Ta’amu leads the SEC and ranks amongst the top five in the NCAA in passing yards (3,001) and passing yards per game (333.4) … Ta’amu ranks eighth nationally with 14.71 yards per completion.
• Ta’amu ranks 10th in program history with 4,683 career passing yards.
• RB Scottie Phillips ranks first in the SEC and seventh nationally in rushing touchdowns (12) and fifth in the NCAA in total TDs (14) … Phillips’ 923 yards rushing is third in the conference.
• WR A.J. Brown ranks sixth nationally in the NCAA in receiving yards (920).
• Brown’s 2,584 career receiving yards rank third in program history, and he is just 63 yards shy of becoming Ole Miss’ all-time leading receiver.
• LB Mohamed Sanogo ranks seventh in the SEC with 8.4 tackles per game.

Matt Luke (Ole Miss, 2000) is in his 11th season at Ole Miss and second season at the helm, taking the reins of his alma mater as the 38th head coach in program history. He was born a Rebel as his family has ties to Ole Miss that span three generations. During his 24 years as a player and coach at the collegiate level, Luke has risen through the ranks while learning from a number of successful veteran coaches. He has worked alongside national champion Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and former Ole Miss head coach Tommy Tuberville, among others. On the field, he has mentored 20 all-league selections as well as All-Americans and first-round draft picks Laremy Tunsil and Laken Tomlinson. Luke, a four-year center for the Rebels (1995-98), spent five seasons as the team’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach before being promoted to interim head coach for the 2017 season. During his first stop in Oxford (2002-05), he served four seasons coaching the Ole Miss tight ends and offensive line under Cutcliffe.

Jimbo Fisher (Salem College, 1990) is in his first season as the Texas A&M head coach and is 5-4 in 2018. He owns a 88-27 mark in nine seasons as a college head coach overall. His .765 winning percentage ranks fifth amongst active head coaches in the FBS. Fisher was hired at Texas A&M on Dec. 4, 2017 after eight successful seasons at Florida State, which included the 2013 BCS National Championship. In his eight seasons in Tallahassee, Fisher led the Seminoles to an 83-23 record, winning three Atlantic Coast Conference championships, four Atlantic Division titles and five bowl games. Twelve of Fisher’s FSU players earned consensus All-America honors, with quarterback Jameis Winston winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013. The 2013 Rawlings College Football Coach of the Year, Fisher has twice been a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award (2013, 2014) and was a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award in 2014.

Texas A&M is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in conference play entering this week’s game with Ole Miss. The Aggies are averaging over 457 yards of total offense per game, with 269 coming through the air and 188 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore signal-caller Kellen Mond ranks fourth in the SEC with 2,252 passing yards on the season. Mond is completing 58.6 percent of his passes on the season, with 12 TDs and seven interceptions. He’s also run for four scores on the season. Mond’s top target has been Jace Sternberger. The 6-foot-4 tight end leads all SEC tight ends with 34 catches for 568 yards and six TDs. Wideout Quartney Davis is also a dangerous target on the outside, tallying 32 catches for 383 yards this season. Junior Trayveon Williams leads A&M on the ground, averaging 103.4 yards rushing per game, the third-best average in the SEC. In addition to rushing, Williams is one of the league’s top receiving backs and is first in the conference in all-purpose yardage with 1,188 yards. Defensively, the Aggies are allowing just under 235 yards per game, giving up just 81 rushing yards per game, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. The Aggies’ defensive end tandem of Kingsley Keke and Landis Durham both rank in the top 10 in the SEC in sacks. Texas A&M possesses two dangerous weapons on special teams as well. Junior punter Braden Mann leads the country, averaging 51.3 yards per punt. Kicker Seth Small is second in the SEC and sixth nationally with just under two field goals per game.

Ole Miss and Texas A&M will be meeting for the 11th time in a series that started in 1911. Texas A&M leads the all-time series vs. Ole Miss 7-3, with the series tied 2-2 in games played in College Station, Texas. The Rebels have won three of the last four against the Aggies.

The Ole Miss roster features 12 players who hail from Texas: WR Floyd Allen (Houston), DE Ryder Anderson (Houston), WR Miles Battle (Houston), DT Ross Donelly (Houston), DE Victor Evans (Dallas), DT Jordan Hebert (Klein), DB Jaylon Jones (Dallas), OL Greg Little (Allen), WR DaMarkus Lodge (Cedar Hill), RB D’Vaughn Pennamon (Houston), QB Grant Restmeyer (McKinney), LB Mohamed Sanogo (Plano).

• Ole Miss WR DaMarkus Lodge and Texas A&M WR Camron Buckley both attended Cedar Hill HS in Cedar Hill, Texas.
• Ole Miss DT Ross Donelly and Texas A&M K Braden Mann were teammates at Cy-Fair HS in Houston, Texas.
• Rebel DE Ryder Anderson and A&M kicker Seth Small were teammates at Katy HS in Katy, Texas.
• Ole Miss RB D’Vaughn Pennamon was teammates with Texas A&M’s Derrick Tucker, Jalen Preston, Brian Johnson and Deneric Prince at Manvel HS in Manvel, Texas.
• Rebel WR Miles Battle and A&M freshman OL Grayson Reed both played at Cy Creek HS in Cypress, Texas.
• Texas A&M linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto served in the same capacity at Ole Miss in 2017.
• Texas A&M defensive line coach Terry Price was a member of two different Ole Miss staffs from 1995-98 and 2009-11.

With three games remaining for the Rebels, both WR A.J. Brown and RB Scottie Phillips have the 1,000-yard mark in sight. Brown, looking for his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season, sits just 80 yards shy of the of 1K. Brown would be the first wideout in Ole Miss history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards twice in a career. Phillips, the junior college transfer, in just his first year at Ole Miss, is 77 yards short of becoming just the sixth Ole Miss running back to go past 1,000 yards rushing. It would mark the eighth time in Ole Miss history for a back to reach that mark. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kayo Dottley both accomplished the 1,000-yard mark twice in their careers.

All season long, the Ole Miss offense has forced opposing defenses to pick their poison. The Rebels are sixth in the country in total offense and Jordan Ta’amu, A.J. Brown and Scottie Phillips have been a big reason why. Ta’amu recently became just the fourth Rebels quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season. If Brown is able to get 80 more receiving yards and Phillips 77 rushing yards, Ole Miss will be the only team in the country to have a 3,000-yard quarterback, a 1,000-yard running back and a 1,000-yard receiver. The Rebels are currently the only team in the country that has an individual ranked in the top 20 nationally in passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards.

OL Greg Little was recently named a Midseason All-American by four publications, as well as earning Midseason All-SEC second team honors by Pro Football Focus. Little was named second team All-American at the midway point by Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Associated Press and Athlon. Little has anchored the Ole Miss offensive line, appearing in every game at left tackle for the last three seasons. Heralded as one of the top NFL Draft prospects for 2019, Little earned six preseason All-America nods and is also on the Outland Trophy and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch lists. Little anchors an Ole Miss offensive line that ranks sixth in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing offense. The Allen, Texas, native has the third-highest pass blocking grade in the NCAA at 90.2.

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu has thrown for 300 or more yards seven times this season, including surpassing the 300-yard mark in three straight contests. He’s just one games short of tying the program record of eight set by Chad Kelly in 2015. His 10 career 300-yard games is tied for third in program history and are just two short of the school record held by Kelly.

LB Mohamed Sanogo is seventh in the Southeastern Conference with 8.4 tackles per game. He has led the Rebels in tackles four times this season. Sanogo tallied a career-high 16 tackles earlier in the season vs. Auburn. The 16 tackles were the most by an Ole Miss defender in 11 years when Tony Fein tallied 16 total tackles vs. Auburn in 2007. If Sanogo can finish the season as the Rebels top tackler, it’ll be the fourth straight season that an LB has led Ole Miss in tackles.

Despite the fact that he’s just made 14 career starts in a Rebel uniform, QB Jordan Ta’amu is quickly etching his name in the Ole Miss record books. Coming into this season, there had been 17 400-yard total offense performances in school history. With his 445 yards of total offense Saturday vs. South Carolina, Ta’amu has now surpassed the 400-yard mark five times this season, including three straight. His seven career 400-yard games of total offense are the most in program history by an Ole Miss QB. Ta’amu currently ranks 10th all-time in career passing yards at Ole Miss with 4,683 yards.

In his first year in an Ole Miss uniform, RB Scottie Phillips is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Rebels’ backfield. The junior college transfer is top three in the SEC and top 20 nationally in several rushing categories. Phillips ranks first in the SEC in both total touchdowns (14) and in rushing touchdowns (12). His 923 rushing yards rank third in the conference and 17th nationally. Phillips has recorded at least one rushing TD in seven of the Rebels’ nine contests this season.

Wide receiver A.J. Brown leads the Southeastern Conference in receiving yards (805) and receptions per game (7.5). The junior wideout from Starkville, Mississippi, has three 100-yard receiving games this season, including two straight. Brown is the only Ole Miss receiver in program history to record 60 or more receptions in back-to-back seasons. He currently ranks third in program history with 2,584 receiving yards, just 80 yards short of passing Shay Hodge for the top spot.

When Ole Miss lost star wideout D.K. Metcalf for the remainder of the season due to injury, the message from head coach Matt Luke was, “next man up.” That directive was heard loud and clear by wide receiver Elijah Moore. Moore, a true freshman who has appeared in all nine games this season, hauled in 11 catches for a career-high 129 yards Saturday vs. South Carolina in his first career start. Both the 129 yards and 11 receptions were the most ever by a freshman receiver in school history.

When he was in seventh grade, Ole Miss punter Mac Brown had a modest goal of raising $500 for a childhood friend’s   dad who had been diagnosed with ALS. Along with a group of neighborhood friends, Brown started a lemonade stand, Awesome Lemonade Stand, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to help his friend’s family. Seven years later, that $500 goal has ballooned to over $50,000 raised by Brown and his friends for ALS research. The Awesome Lemonade Stand is held on a late day in June and this year’s fundraiser raised more than $15,000 alone.

Ole Miss is well known for its explosive and dangerous members of its receiving corps, dubbed nWo (Nasty Wideouts), but Rebel tight ends Dawson Knox and Octavious Cooley had quite the performances of their own in the Rebels’ win over Arkansas earlier in the season. Knox and Cooley combined to for 150 yards and one touchdown in the Rebels’ 37-33 comeback victory in Little Rock. Coming into that game, the duo had combined for just five catches and 101 yards through the first half of the season prior to breaking out vs. the Razorbacks.

Headed into the season, a majority of Ole Miss’ experience on the defensive side of the ball was in the secondary. Season-ending injuries to three Rebel defensive backs (Montrell Custis, Jaylon Jones, C.J. Moore) have forced Ole Miss to make several changes to its defense. Armani Linton and Tylan Knight, who have both seen time at running back in 2018, both switched to defense prior to the Rebels’ game vs. ULM. Linton, who played DB for his first two years at Ole Miss, got his first career start at strong safety vs. Arkansas and has made 11 total tackles since the switch. Knight tallied a career-high five total tackles and one tackle for loss vs. South Carolina.

The Rebels lead the SEC and rank 11th in the country with a red zone scoring percentage of 92.9. The Rebels have converted 39-of-42 chances from inside the 20, including 25 TDs. Nineteen of the 25 Ole Miss red zone touchdowns have come on the ground. Ole Miss was 8-of-9 in red zone opportunities Saturday vs. South Carolina.

Fourteen Rebels have made their first career starts this season: (Offense) Ben Brown (OL), Scottie Phillips (RB), Braylon Sanders (WR); (Defense) Josh Clarke (DB), Montrell Custis (DB), Jacquez Jones (LB), Armani Linton (DB), Elijah Moore (WR), Austrian Robinson (DE), Kevontae’ Ruggs (LB),  Mohamed Sanogo (LB), Keidron Smith (DB), Tariqious Tisdale (DE), Markel Winters (DE).

A total of 42 players have made their Ole Miss debut this season: Zikerrion Baker (LB), Miles Battle (WR), Drake Beck (WR), Quentin Bivens (DT), Ben Brown (OL), Nic Cantu (OL), Jacob Carter (WR), Josh Clarke (LB), Spencer Cole (P), James Coley (DL), Matt Corral (QB), Peyton Cox (OL), Vernon Dasher (DB), Nikolas Dean (TE),  Alex Faniel (TE), Tony Gray (OL), A.J. Harris (DB), Jakorey Hawkins (DB), Nick Haynes (TE), Jonathan Hess (LB), Amani Johnson (LB), Eli Johnson (OL), Sam Johnson (OL), Jacquez Jones (LB), Tylan Knight (ATH), Luke Knox (LB), Elijah Moore (WR), Patrick Nasiatka (K), Hal Northern (DL), Scottie Phillips (RB), Samuel Plash (OL), Grant Restmeyer (QB), Josh Ricketts (WR), Ty Rocconi (DB), Kevontae’ Ruggs (LB), Keidron Smith (DB), Lawson Stockett (DE), KC Swaim (OL), Tariqious Tisdale (DL), Isaac Way (K), KeShun Wells (RB), Isaiah Woullard (RB).

It’s the 124th season of football at Ole Miss and the second under head coach Matt Luke. The Rebels boast an all-time record of 671-521-35 (.561 winning percentage). Ole Miss did not field teams in 1897 due to an epidemic of yellow fever, and also in 1943 when football was abolished at all Mississippi state-supported institutions by the Board of Trustees.

• Ole Miss is 39-of-42 in red zone opportunities, with 25 touchdowns and 14 field goals.
• WR A.J. Brown is 63 yards shy of breaking Ole Miss’ career receiving record.
• Brown is just 80 receiving yards shy of surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season.
• Phillips needs 77 yards to become just the sixth Ole Miss running back to go past 1,000 yards rushing.
• QB Jordan Ta’amu is first in the SEC and fourth nationally in passing yards (3,001) … Ta’amu’s 16 passing TDs are fourth in the conference.
• Ta’amu is now 10th on Ole Miss’ all-time charts in career passing yardage with 4,683.
• Ta’amu currently sits at 3,001 passing yards on the season. He’s just the fourth Rebel QB to surpass the 3,000-yard mark.

Ole Miss’ new on-field mascot, Tony, was unveiled Aug. 11 at the annual Meet the Rebels event and will roam the sideline during the 2018 season. Ole Miss’ Landshark mascot is named in honor of the first Rebel to throw “Fins Up,” Tony Fein.

Fein, an Army veteran who served a one-year tour in the Iraq War before arriving in Oxford, was a two-year letterman after transferring from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. He was the 2008 recipient of the Pat Tillman Award by the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Fein passed away in October 2009, but his legacy at Ole Miss continues through the Landshark.

At Ole Miss, Landshark is a term that was first adopted by the Rebel football team’s defensive unit. As part of that identity, defensive players celebrate big plays by putting a hand to their forehead in the shape of a shark fin. A battle cry of “Fins Up” also contributes to the players’ persona. With the popularity of both the players and the hand gesture, Ole Miss fans and student-athletes from other sports embraced the spirit of the Landshark, and in October 2017, the university announced the Landshark as the official mascot of the Ole Miss Rebels.

RebTalk, the official weekly radio show of Ole Miss Athletics, will be broadcast each Tuesday this fall at Bouré in downtown Oxford from 7-8 p.m. The show, which is hosted by the “Voice of the Rebels” David Kellum and includes special guests, will air live on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network. Ole Miss Football head coach Matt Luke and select players will join the broadcast each Tuesday throughout the 2018 season.  – RN