After opening the season with neutral-site victories against Boise State and Vanderbilt, the No. 14 Ole Miss football team will play Louisiana-Lafayette at 3 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) in its home opener at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is familiar with Louisiana-Lafayette from his time as coach at Arkansas State in the Sun Belt Conference.
“Their quarterback is very talented, and they have talent around him with receivers and running backs and offensive line,” Freeze said. “They are very balanced, and they do a lot of the same stuff we do. We should be able to give our defense a good look.”
Ole Miss improved to 2-0 Saturday with a 41-3 victory against Vanderbilt at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Rebels held the Commodores to under 100 yards of total offense until the final two possessions in the Southeastern Conference opener for each team.
“I’m excited about a lot of things we did really well,” Freeze said. “There are still things we have to improve on to compete in this conference, but I’m excited to be 2-0 and 1-0 in the conference. We played two pretty good team and learn about ourselves in the first two weeks.”
Quarterback Bo Wallace was 23 of 30 for 320 yards and a touchdown. Wallace bounced back after throwing three interceptions in a season-opening 35-13 victory against Boise State in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ole Miss led Boise State by one point entering the fourth quarter. Against Vanderbilt, Ole Miss built a 20-0 halftime lead and was never challenged.
Still, Wallace wants more.
“We can’t have negative plays down (in the red zone),” Wallace said. “We can’t have penalties like we did last Saturday. Other than that, I feel like they missed a call on Laquon (Treadwell) on what I thought probably would have been a touchdown. We had a good plan down there. We just have to execute it.”
Freeze liked Wallace’s improvement from the season opener.
“Bo Wallace had one of his better games since we’ve been here,” Freeze said. “He made very few mistakes, and his receivers played well. We were able to run the ball enough to keep us pretty balanced, so we made improvement there also.”
Louisiana-Lafayette (1-1) defeated Southern University (45-6) in its season opener before losing to Louisiana Tech (48-20) last week.
“They are a good football team,” Freeze said. “They didn’t play their best the other night. They turned it over and put themselves in bad spots, but I know we’ll get their best. Just a couple of years ago, they took Florida down to the wire. From being in that conference, I know how it is for those kids to get a chance to play in these arenas and these games. I know (coach) Mark (Hudspeth) will have them ready, and it’ll be a good game.”
The matchup kicks off a three-game homestand for Ole Miss. It will be a heavy favorite Saturday and next week against Memphis. The month of October will begin with what could be a top-10 showdown against Alabama.
“We’re always excited about being at home,” Wallace said. “I know the freshmen are excited. The guys that are coming in, this is their first experience with the Walk of Champions and things. I’m excited for those guys to get to experience that. Hopefully, we come out and put a good show on for our crowd.”
n In related news, senior cornerback Cliff Coleman was chosen Monday as the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Coleman’s 39-yard interception return for a touchdown was a big play at Vanderbilt. It was Coleman’s first interception and touchdown. It was the first Ole Miss interception return for touchdown since 2011.
Follow Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.