AN OPPOSING VIEW
OXFORD, Miss. — If you want to know about Mississippi, and that extends from Ole Miss to Mississippi State, you want to reach out to Parrish Alford.
Alford has been covering college sports in Mississippi since 1989 including Brett Favre’s last two years at Southern Miss. In fact, he saw Favre and the Golden Eagles narrowly miss a win at Sanford Stadium in 1990 (Georgia won 18-17). Alford was in Meridian those days.
Now he works for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal out of Tupelo, where he covered Mississippi State from 1996-2001. Then he switched beats and Alford has been covering Ole Miss since Eli Manning’s junior year in 2002.
You can read Parrish’s coverage of the Rebels work at on the Daily Journal’s website at DJournal.com follow him on Twitter @parrishalford.
Now, onto the questions about the 2016 Ole Miss Rebels (1-2), who the Bulldogs (3-0) will meet at noon ET at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday.
1. What would you say is the current mental state of the Ole Miss team after those two defeats? Would you say they’re a little disillusioned or would you say they’re now desperate and more determined than ever to take it out on Georgia?
Alford: “I don’t know if desperate is the word. I think there’s a mix of confidence and frustration. Players understand how close they are to having beaten two teams ranked in the top five at the time of the games. I think the eagerness is to correct their own mistakes rather than take it out on anyone. Last year against Alabama the Rebels needed the turnovers they forced to win. This year they forced one big turnover for points, but that was it. The rest were compiled by an explosive offense — when they didn’t turn it over.”
2. Can you bring us up to date on the NCAA investigation and give us some insight as to what you expect when it’s all said and done? And when might it be done?
Alford: “The when question is anybody’s guess. It’s more than four years old now, and it just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny. As far as what will happen my guess is there will be a few more scholarship reductions tacked on when it’s finally said and done. The punishment is for what’s already been found and investigated.”
3. Obviously, Chad Kelly is a great quarterback, probably the best in the SEC. What’s the thoughts in Oxford on how he’s playing so far this year? Is he a rock start on the UM campus? And do you think he’s licking his chops for this Georgia matchup?
Alford: “He is a rock star, but that status could change if he doesn’t protect the ball better. Turnovers were something he worked through last year. By the end of the season he was protecting the football and playing at a high level. That’s the way he played in the first half against Florida State. His turnovers in the third quarter were enough to fuel the Seminoles’ comeback, and Ole Miss could never regain momentum. Two turnovers Saturday led to two Alabama touchdowns in a game that was ultimately decided by five points. That could lead to a more careful Kelly against Georgia, but there’s a risk and reward with that approach. If you’re more careful do you miss out on some big-play opportunities? I think Kelly will take the risk and hope for the reward.”
4. Speaking of licking chops, the one of Marquis Haynes against Georgia’s offensive tackles looks like a favorable one for the Rebels. How do you see the matchup of Ole Miss’s Landshark Defense versus Georgia’s offense now under the direction of freshman quarterback Jacob Eason? And I see they’ve struggled a little against the run. What would you say are Nick Chubb’s chances of enjoying a breakout game?
Alford: “The Rebels will do a fair job of limiting holes, but Chubb could have a big day by cutting and finding open space on the back side. That’s where the Rebels hope to improve this week. Haynes is a gifted pass rusher against most tackles. The Rebels are really missing their other starting end from last year, Fadol Brown, who was solid against the run and in helping collapse the pocket.”
5. Finally, I assume everybody out that way is bummed about having to play this game at 11 a.m. local time. Do you think that will take away some of the Rebels’ home-field advantage? And what changes might UGA fans expect to see at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium since they last visited five years ago?
Alford: “No one outside the press box is happy about the 11 a.m. CT start. It will be hot. I don’t think that will take away from the attendance, but it will affect what time fans show up and perhaps how engaged they are at the beginning. A fast start for Georgia could take the home advantage away from Ole Miss.
“The stadium looks very nice now with a bowled-in north end zone. They’ll put about 65,000 in the house for the game I would imagine. There’s a big video board in the north end zone and two smaller ones mounted in the south corners. It’s evolved into a really neat venue through the years.”