Ole Miss offense will be on steroids against Louisville

You might want to take a nap during the day on Monday before the University of Louisville football team lines up against Mississippi. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and it’s going to be a long game at Atlanta.

Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin, making his 11th stop on the football circuit, likes to play fast and score. Score and score some more if he faces no resistance.

This is not a typical opener against a conference also-ran. It is the 25th ranked Rebels of the Southeastern Conference. The Cardinals are a nine-point underdog. Not an easy way to make the UofL fan base giddy about the season.

After flirting with the South Carolina coaching job, Scott Satterfield needs some feel good vibes. Probably won’t happen in this game. “They are known for their offense and Lane Kiffin his whole career he is known for being able to move the football,” said Satterfield.

 Last season the Rebels (5-5) beat Indiana in the Outback Bowl. That’s the same Hoosier team that beat Penn State and Michigan. The Rebels averaged 39.2 points a game and averaged 555 of offense per game. They scored 48 in a loss to national champion Alabama. They scored 59 in a win over South Carolina and 48 in a loss to LSU.

“What Ole Miss does well is they make you defend the whole field. North, south, east, west,” said Sattefield during his weekly media conference.

Tempo will be important. Old Miss is like a video game. They love to push tempo and that will be a key for the Louisville defense. Can they keep up without substituting.

“Once the play is over, Ole Miss is getting lined right back up and jumping into their formation,” said Satterfield. “We as coaches have to see what the formation is and get lined up quickly. That is going to be number one key. Getting lined up.

“When you don’t get lined up right then there goes a receiver, he’s running by the defense. They thrive as a big play offense.”

One of the reasons Ole Miss can do all this is junior quarterback Matt Corral. His 384.9 yards per game average led the FBS in total offense. Corral returns after leading the SEC in eight separate categories. In other words a hand full for the Louisville defense.

“You have to have an excellent quarterback to do what they do,” said Satterfield, “Matt Corral is an outstanding quarterback. You have to make quick decisions on this offense. They will have several plays called within one.”

That puts pressure on Louisville’s secondary. Kei Tre Clark, a second team preseason all ACC selection, senior Kendrick Duncan, juniors, Qwynnterrio Cole and Chandler Jones. Louisville will need to put pressure up front with its defensive line and linebackers. But that could be a problem as Corral is a talented runner. “I was hoping he couldn’t run. But he can,” said Satterfield.

Second team SEC performer Jerrion Ealy rushed for 745 yards and nine touchdowns last season returns. He’s also a threat in the return game. Wide receiver Braylon Sanders has ability to make big plays down field.

The good news in all of this is the Rebels allowed 38.3 points a game last year. The Louisville offense should be up to the task with junior quarterback Malik Cunningham returning. A year ago Cunningham threw for 2,617 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 609 yards and seven scores. However he threw 12 interceptions.

Running back seems to be a deep position for Louisville as red-shirt freshman Jaylen Mitchell tops the depth chart with junior, Atlanta native, Hassan Hall. Red shirt sophomore H-back Marshon Ford returns figures heavily in the offense. Justin Marshall has drawn praise during fall camp.

“I think we have enough guys out there that can make plays,” said Satterfield. “Ultimately, they’re going to have to win some one-on-one battles out there, we’re going to have to give them a chance to make those plays.”

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Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.