Rebels gear up for Red Raiders
By By Will Bardwell/staff writer
September 27, 2003
That's how Ole Miss defensive coordinator Chuck Driesbach describes Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons, who passed for 586 yards against North Carolina State on Saturday in a 49-21 Red Raiders loss.
Symons' performance set a new Big 12 record for passing yards in a single game, and was the 13th-highest output in college football history. And he did it against a defense yielding an average of only 213 passing yards per game.
Saturday, Symons faces an Ole Miss defense giving up an average of 331 yards through the air ranking their passing defense 116th in Division I-A.
Rebel fans relieved by the departure of former Red Raiders quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, who passed for 270 yards in last year's 42-28 Texas Tech win, are not likely to be pleased with his replacement. Driesbach said Symons is very similar to Kingsbury and runs the potent Red Raiders offense just as well.
While the Ole Miss defense may not shut down Texas Tech, the Rebels' offense may be able to keep up with it. The Red Raiders' defense has struggled, giving up 267 yards per game through the air. They have not fared much better on the ground, as opponents have averaged 179 rushing yards against Texas Tech.
It gets worse for the Red Raiders defense. Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning has been waiting for this game since last season.
Manning said that means the Rebels will have to be able to run the ball against a Red Raiders defense that has given up more than twice as many touchdowns on the ground (seven) as through the air (three).
That is something Texas Tech did not do on Saturday. Despite Symons' record-setting statistics, he threw only two touchdown passes. Both of them came on big plays a 50-yard pass and a 36-yard pass.
Of the Red Raiders' four trips inside the 20-yard line, they scored only once.
Ole Miss head coach David Cutcliffe said the Rebels defense will have to spend all day watching for long passes.
Missed assignments have plagued the Rebels secondary in their first three games, as the Ole Miss defense has given up 16 passing plays for 20 or more yards.
Unless Ole Miss improved over their off week, Symons could be looking at a big day.