CFB Preview: No. 19 Ole Miss-Wofford
After becoming the victim of Florida State's furious second-half comeback, Ole Miss begins to put the pieces together by hosting Wofford at 4 p.m. Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford.
And the Rebels will have more to deal with than the hangover from the 45-34 loss to the Seminoles.
They learned this week that cornerback Ken Webster and running back Eric Swinney likely are lost for the season because of knee injuries sustained in the opener.
A junior, Webster was carted off the field in the first quarter after he landed awkwardly while breaking a pass. He started every game for Ole Miss last year and was eighth in the SEC in passes defended with 12, which included one interception. He also had one start as a freshman in 2014.
Swinney left in the second quarter. He is a redshirt freshman who was expected to be in the rotation at running back for the Rebels this season. He had one carry for a six-yard gain against the Seminoles.
The game against Wofford should give the Rebels the opportunity to rebuild some confidence after the third-quarter debacle in Orlando, Florida.
After building a 28-6 lead and going to the locker room up 28-13 at halftime, the Rebels were ripped for 30 consecutive points in the loss to the Seminoles, 23 of them coming in the third quarter.
In addition to not being able to handle Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois, the offense went flat and the Rebels were held to minus-seven yards in the period.
They managed to get back on the scoreboard and within one score of the 'Noles when quarterback Chad Kelly's 20-yard pass to wide receiver Van Jefferson early in the fourth quarter closed the gap to 39-34, but the 'Noles sealed the deal with two fourth-quarter field goals.
Except for the third quarter, Kelly was very effective.
He completed 21 of 39 attempts for 313 yards and four touchdowns. But he also had three interceptions, all in the second half, and lost a fumble while being sacked that led to an FSU touchdown in the third quarter.
Senior tight end Evan Engram also had a big night with a career-high nine receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. It was the fourth 100-yard receiving game of his career.
On defense, sophomore free safety Zedrick Woods led the team with 11 tackles and seniors Terry Caldwell, a starter at linebacker, and Carlos Davis, a starter at cornerback, had career highs of 10 and 8, respectively.
As disappointing as the loss was, Ole Miss coach Huge Freeze reminded his players afterward that it was only one game. The Rebels also have little time to console themselves.
After the visit from Wofford the Rebels are host to Alabama and Georgia the next two weeks in key SEC matchups.
Wofford comes to Oxford off a 27-7 victory at Tennessee Tech.
The Terriers rushed for 346 yards in the win, which continued the trend they exhibited last year when they averaged 300 rushing yards a game. That ranked fourth nationally among FCS teams.
They also have injury problems of their own, however. Evan Jacks, the projected starter at quarterback for the season, is out with a knee injury. Junior Brad Butler started the opener and rushed for 85 yards on 11 carries.
He attempted only five passes, hitting on four for just 30 yards. Backup Brandon Goodson completed one of three attempts for 12 yards.
The big weapons in Wofford's ground-oriented attack were running backs Will Gay and Lorenzo Long. Gay had 116 yards on just nine carries, Long 92 on 19.