The Ole Miss Rebels will roll into Austin on Saturday looking to avenge the 66-31 beatdown put on them last season in Oxford.
While there are numerous freshmen who will have a chance to make an impact on the game for the Rebels, there's a significant corps of players who played in that game last season and remember the ignominy of that defeat. Let's just say they are going to be motivated.
Players to watch
Bo Wallace, senior quarterback -- Remember Wallace, the East Mississippi CC signal-caller Texas recruited just before the end of the 2012 recruiting cycle before deciding to stick with the players currently on campus and set to arrive in the Texas Gang Or Die class?
Well, Wallace ended up in Oxford and quickly earned the starting job under Hugh Freeze. The 6'4, 210-pounder had a strong season in many respects -- he passed for almost 3,000 yards, averaged 8.1 yards per attempt, and even gained nearly 400 yards on the ground. However, the biggest issue he had was throwing interceptions, with 17 on the season for a monster interception rate of 4.6%. Of the top 100 quarterbacks in the country in passer rating last season, only North Carolina State's Mike Glennon matched that interception total.
So far, Wallace has managed to protect the football better this season, avoiding any interceptions in his first 62 pass attempts, a significant improvement.
Texas will have to force some bad decisions from Wallace to have a chance on Saturday.
Jeff Scott, senior running back -- What the 5'7, 162-pounder from Miami lacks in physical size, he makes up for in pure speed, elusiveness, and vision to find cutback lanes. He broke off a winding 48-yard touchdown run against Texas last season and scored the game-winning 75-yard touchdown run with about a minute left against Vanderbilt in the season opener to cap a wild finish to that contest.
Ole Miss - Jeff Scott 75 Yd Run vs Vanderbilt (via SECDigitalNetwork)
He's a dangerous player in space and one Texas struggled to completely contain last season. In other words, he's going to be a big play waiting to happen against the reeling Horns defense, even though he's not necessarily an every-down running threat between the tackles.
Ole Miss could invert the zone read with Wallace and Scott as BYU did in the second half last week, with Wallace on the dive and Scott on the edge to take advantage of his ability to take the corner.
Donte Moncrief, junior wide receiver -- Hmm, what's that? Another Rebel skill position player who scored a long touchdown against Texas last season? Ah yes, the impressive wide receiver who scored 10 touchdowns last season and racked up nearly 1,000 receiving yards scored a 75-yard touchdown in that game. He's an explosive, big-play threat in the passing game who could declare early for the NFL and go in the early rounds.
Moncrief is really the only proven, big-play threat in the passing game, so the Horns will have to do a better job of limiting his ability to get vertical than they did last week against BYU's Cody Hoffman, who has able to pull in several back-breaking grabs down the field despite Taysom Hill's limitations as a passing quarterback.
Laquon Treadwell, freshman wide receiver -- A one-time sorta Texas target who was never offered by the Horns, Treadwell emerged as the top-rated wide receiver in the 2013 recruiting class and didn't waste much time making an impact, as he hauled in nine catches for 82 yards in his debut, operating as the bubble screen/possession threat to Moncrief's downfield ability.
He's strong, runs good routes, has great hands, and is explosive with the ball in his hands -- Texas will have to do a good job defending the packaged inside zone/bubble screen game or Treadwell could have a truly breakout performance on a big stage.
Robert Nkemdiche, freshman defensive lineman -- The Rebels will be without older brother Denzel, their top linebacker and leading tackler in 2012, after he suffered a knee injury in the opener that will keep him out for several more weeks, but younger brother Robert is an absolute beast himself.
He was rated as the consensus top player in the country last season and is now up to about 300 lean, mean pounds. With three tackles for loss through two games and seven total tackles overall, he hasn't quite been dominant yet, but given the struggles of the Texas offensive line last week, it's not hard imagining that not-so-little Nkemdiche could signal his own arrival on the national stage this weekend.
The Ultimate Robert Nkemdiche Highlight video from his junior season at Grayson High School (via Prep1Force)
Cody Prewitt, junior free safety -- The top defensive back for Ole Miss is probably senior Charles Sawyer, but the Bay Springs native may not be far behind for those honors and with Sawyer out this weekend because of a recent DUI arrest, Prewitt certainly takes on those honors for this weekend's contest. A 6'2, 220-pounder who has two of the three Ole Miss interceptions this season, Prewitt was second on the team in tackles last season behind Nkemdiche and has also forced a fumble already in 2013.
He's also on the big side for a free safety, so if the Longhorns can get him matched up in favorable situations against faster wide receivers, there's a chance they could burn him for a big play. Assuming that Texas will have a quarterback healthy and capable enough to make a throw like that.