GAME TEN NOTES: Louisiana at Ole Miss

Date: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017
Time: 11 a.m. CT
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (64,038)
Surface: Natural Grass
Series: Ole Miss leads 4-0
    In Oxford: Ole Miss leads 4-0
Streak: Ole Miss, W4
Live Stats:
Live Audio:
Twitter Updates: @OleMissFB
Television: SEC Network
Dave Neal, Play-by-Play
Matt Stinchcomb, Analyst
Dawn Davenport, Sideline
Satellite Radio: Sirius 157, XM 191

• Ole Miss and Louisiana will be meeting for just the fourth time in a series that started in 1986.
• The Rebels lead the all-time series vs. the Ragin’ Cajuns 4-0, with all four contests being played in Oxford, Mississippi.
• Ole Miss won the last meeting against Louisiana, 56-15, in 2014.
• Matt Luke is in his 10th season at Ole Miss but first season at the helm, taking the reins of his alma mater as the 38th head coach in program history.
• Making just his second career start, junior QB Jordan Ta’amu completed 31-of-40 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns vs. Kentucky, including the game-winning TD pass with five seconds left in the game.
• With 382 yards vs. Kentucky and 368 yards in week eight vs. Arkansas, Ta’amu became the only QB in Ole Miss history to throw for at least 750 yards in back-to-back SEC games.
• Senior K Gary Wunderlich sits at 62 career field goals, just one FG shy of tying the Ole Miss all-time career record of 63 set by Jonathan Nichols’ from 2001-04.
• Wunderlich also sits 13 points shy of passing Nichols on the all-time charts in points scored & points kicking.
• The Rebels lead the SEC and rank seventh nationally in passing offense (343.0 ypg).
• Ole Miss is the only FBS school that has three receivers with six or more touchdown receptions.
• Sophomore WR A.J. Brown leads the SEC in multiple receiving categories: yards (830), yards per game (92.2) and receptions per game (5.3).
• Senior DE Marquis Haynes is third in the SEC and 11th nationally in sacks (7.5).

Matt Luke (Ole Miss, 2000) is in his 10th season at Ole Miss but first season at the helm, taking the reins of his alma mater as the 38th head coach in school history. The Rebels are 67-54 with Luke on staff as a full-time coach, including 4-5 with him leading the program. He was born a Rebel as his family has ties to Ole Miss that span three generations. During his 23 years as a player and coach at the collegiate level, Luke has risen through the ranks while learning from a number of successful veteran coaches. He has worked alongside national champion Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and former Ole Miss head coach Tommy Tuberville, among others. On the field, he has mentored 17 all-league selections as well as All-Americans and first-round draft picks Laremy Tunsil and Laken Tomlinson. Luke, a four-year center for the Rebels (1995-98), spent the past five seasons as the team’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

Mark Hudspeth, a native of Louisville, Mississippi, and graduate of Delta State (1992), is in his seventh year as Louisiana’s head coach and 14th year overall. Hudspeth has helped guide the Ragin’ Cajuns to five New Orleans Bowl appearances in the last seven years. Since Hudspeth’s arrival in Lafayette, 42 players have been named to the All-Sun Belt Conference team with running back Elijah McGuire being selected as both the league’s Player and Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. Three players – Alonzo Harris (2011), McGuire (2013) and Joe Dillon (2016) – were each named as the league’s Freshman of the Year, with McGuire and Dillon each earning Freshman All-America honors. A 24-year coaching veteran, Hudspeth carries an 94-56 career record as a collegiate head coach, winning 10 or more games five times and leading his teams to a combined seven postseason appearances. Hudspeth came to Louisiana after serving as the passing game coordinator at Mississippi State for two seasons (2009-10).

The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns currently sit at 4-4 overall and 3-2 in Sun Belt play. Louisiana is coming off three wins in its last four games, including a 19-14 victory last weekend over South Alabama. This will be the second SEC opponent of the season for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Louisiana faced off against Texas A&M in a 45-21 loss during week three of the 2017 season. They are 2-1 at home, but head into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with a road record of 2-3. Louisiana has used three different quarterbacks over the first eight games of the season. The Ragin’ Cajuns recently pulled the redshirt off of dual-threat quarterback Levi Lewis. Lewis would pass for 110 yards and two TDs, as well as add 129 yards on the ground in the win over South Alabama. Junior quarterbacks Jordan Davis and Andre Nunez are the other options for Louisiana at the quarterback position. Keenan Barnes, a second-team preseason All-Sun Belt selection, has hauled in 34 catches for 485 yards and two scores on the season. Trey Ragas has led the Ragin’ Cajun ground attack with 626 yards and seven scores. Senior LB T.J. Posey leads the Louisiana defense with 63 tackles. All-Sun Belt selection defensive Joe Dillion has a team-high 4.5 sacks.

• Ole Miss WR DaMarkus Lodge and Louisiana DB Darrell Miller were teammates Cedar Hill HS in Cedar Hill, Texas.
• Ole Miss QB Jason Pellerin and Ragin’ Cajun DT Zi’Yon Hill both went to Catholic HS in New Iberia, Louisiana.
• Rebel LB Tayler Polk and Louisiana DB SchDarren Archie both attended Brandon HS in Brandon, Mississippi.
• Ole Miss LB Josh Clarke and Louisiana DB Lorenzo Cryer both attended Riverdale HS in Jefferson, Louisiana.
• Ole Miss DB Jerry Johnson and Louisiana’s Bennie Higgins, Denarius Howard and Jarvis Jeffries all attended Mississippi Delta Community College in Moorhead, Mississippi.
• Rebel LB Detric Bing-Dukes and Andre Nunez were teammates at Iowa Western Community College.
• WR Josh Ricketts and Louisiana WR Keenan Barnes both attended Madison Central HS in Madison, Mississippi.

The Ole Miss roster features seven players who hail from Louisiana: LB Zikerrion Baker (Mooringsport), RB Eugene Brazley (New Orleans), OL Peyton Cox (Metairie) LB Josh Clarke (Jefferson), DL Garrald McDowell (Covington), QB Shea Patterson (Shreveport) and QB Jason Pellerin (New Iberia).

Jordan Ta’amu, who officially took over as the Ole Miss starting quarterback in week eight after Shea Patterson was lost for the season, has stormed onto the scene and helped the Rebel offense not lose a beat. In the comeback win over Kentucky, Ta’amu completed 31-of-40 passes for a career-high 382 yards and four touchdowns, setting several Ole Miss records in the process. The 77.5 completion percentage by Ta’amu vs. the Wildcats set a single-game record by an Ole Miss QB with a minimum of 40 attempts, breaking Stewart Patridge’s completion percentage of 76.7 in 1997.  The Kentucky performance was coming off a 368-yard passing game against Arkansas, the most passing yards ever by an Ole Miss quarterback making his first career start. Ta’amu also became the only quarterback in Ole Miss history to throw for at least 750 yards in back-to-back SEC games.

Senior LB DeMarquis Gates recorded a career-high 13 solo tackles on his way to a 14 tackle performance against Kentucky. It was the fifth time this season that Gates recorded double-digit tackles and the fifth time that he’s led the Rebels in that category. Gates, a watch list candidate for the Butkus Award, currently leads the team and ranks second in the SEC with 86 total tackles. Gates’ 86 tackles are already the most by a Rebel since Ashlee Palmer recorded 89 in 2007. His 6.6 solo tackles per game are an SEC best and rank fifth nationally. Gates is looking to become the first Rebel to lead in tackles for three straight years since Abdul Jackson did it from 1992-94. With three games left in the season, Gates has already surpassed his tackle totals from 2015 (76) and 2016 (79).

K Gary Wunderlich continues to work his way up several Ole Miss career record lists. Wunderlich currently sits second on the Ole Miss all-time career record books in points scored (331), field goals made (62) and PATs made (145). Wunderlich tallied three field goals vs. Kentucky, including a career-long of 49 yards. It was the ninth time in his career he’s recorded three FGs in a game. A Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year, he has been named to the watch list this preseason, as well as to various preseason All-America and All-SEC squads.

     Points Scored: 2nd – 331
     Points Kicking: 2nd – 331
     Field Goals Made: 2nd – 62
     PATs Made: 2nd – 145
     PATs Attempted: 2nd – 149

WR A.J. Brown is off to a stellar sophomore campaign as he leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally in receiving yards per game (92.2) and is second in the SEC in touchdowns (7). Brown’s 830 receiving yards currently ranks seventh all-time in a single season for a Ole Miss receiver. Brown’s four 100-yard receiving games this season ranks fourth in the single-season record books for 100-yard games, just two shy of Laquon Treadwell’s mark of six set during the 2015 season. Earlier in the year, the Starkville, Mississippi, native hauled in eight receptions for 233 yards and two scores vs. South Alabama, breaking Eddie Small’s Ole Miss record of 210 receiving yards set versus Vanderbilt in 1993. Brown’s total of 233 yards also tied Pharoh Cooper of South Carolina for the 13th most receiving yards in a game in SEC history. His two TD catches of 71 and 77 yards also marked the first time in school history a receiver posted two 70-plus yard touchdowns in the same game.

Preseason All-American DE Marquis Haynes continued to add to his school modern-era sacks and tackles for loss records with one sack and one tackle for loss against Kentucky. Haynes’ career sack record total of 32.0 sits atop of the all-time record book ahead of Greg Hardy (26.5) and is second in the NCAA amongst active players. His 45.0 TFLs are tops in Ole Miss history, passing former Rebel DE Derrick Burgess (42.0). Haynes led the Rebels in sacks as a freshman (7.5), sophomore (10.0) and junior (7.0). The Jacksonville, Florida, native is a unanimous preseason All-SEC  first-team pick and made watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski, Hendricks and Lott IMPACT awards.

The Ole Miss receiving corps has been a nightmare for opposing defenses this season. Ole Miss is the only FBS team in the country to have three receivers with six or more TD receptions. The Rebels also boast four receivers who have hauled in more than 33 catches this season. Only Washington State has more receivers with such numbers (5), while both Ole Miss and NC State have four. A.J. Brown, D.K. Metalf, Damarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson all rank in the top 12 in the SEC in receptions per game. Brown leads the SEC and ranks 15th nationally in receiving yards per game (92.2) and is 21st nationally in touchdowns (7), while fellow wideouts Lodge and Metcalf are both fourth in the SEC with six TDs. The Rebels have had at least one 100-yard receiver in six of the nine games this season. They’ve had two 100-yard receivers twice.

After just recording four sacks in the season’s first five games, the Ole Miss defense has exploded for 18 sacks over the last four games. It’s a four-game streak that has seen the Rebels record at least three sacks during that time, including a season-high seven in a 57-35 win over Vanderbilt. Senior DE Marquis Haynes leads the Rebels and ranks third in the SEC with 7.5 sacks on the year.

Sophomore kick returner Jaylon Jones is always a threat to take one back to the house. Jones, who had a 97-yard TD return during first game of the season vs. South Alabama, leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with 729 total kickoff yardage and is fourth in the SEC with 25.1 yards per return. Jones’ 194 kickoff return yards against LSU were the second-most in a game in school history. As a team, Ole Miss is tops amongst the SEC and 15th nationally in kickoff return yardage (25.45).

After a nearly flawless junior season, K Gary Wunderlich entered his senior season as one of the nation’s top placekickers. Wunderlich has made a field goal in 19 straight games in which he’s played, the longest active in the NCAA, and surpasses Ole Miss kicker Josh Shene’s streak of 16-straight back in 2008. Wunderlich has made three field goals in three straight games, a feat that he also accomplished last season. Wunderlich is one of only two kickers in the SEC in the last decade to record at least three FGs in three straight contests. Josh Harper from LSU had a four game streak in which he made three or more.

• Ole Miss leads the SEC and ranks seventh nationally in passing offense (343.0).
• The Rebels rank third in the SEC and 13th nationally with only three fumbles lost.
• Ole Miss is the only FBS school that has three receivers with six or more touchdown receptions.
• Ole Miss is one of only three teams in the country with four receivers who have tallied 33 or more catches on the season.
• Wideout A.J. Brown ranks second in the SEC and 21st nationally with seven touchdown receptions on the year … DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf both have six each, which ranks them fourth in the SEC.
• Junior QB Jordan Ta’amu completed 20-of-30 passes for 368 yards vs. Arkansas in his first collegiate start … It was the most passing yards ever by an Ole Miss quarterback making his first career start … Ta’amu’s 444 yards of total offense (368 passing, 76 rushing) vs. Arkansas were the fifth-most yards in a single game in Ole Miss history.
• Brown leads the SEC in multiple receiving categories, including: yards (830), yards per game (92.2) and receptions per game (5.3) … The sophomore WR is currently tied for fourth in the single-season record books with four 100- yard receiving games during a season.
• The Ole Miss offensive line features two lineman on the watch list for national awards at their respective position: LT Greg Little (Outland Trophy) and Sean Rawlings (Rimington Trophy).

• Ole Miss has recorded three or more sacks in four straight games.
• All-SEC end Marquis Haynes has wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lines again this year, leading the team in sacks (7.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and fumbles forced (3) … A senior, he ranks first in school history (modern-day era) with 32.0 career sacks and first with 46.0 tackles for loss.|
• Senior DeMarquis Gates is on pace to lead the team in tackles for the third straight season … Gates is second in the SEC with 86 tackles on the season … His 59 solo tackles leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally.
• DB Javien Hamilton ranks fourth in the SEC with three interceptions … C.J. Moore is second on the team with two picks.

• The kicking game is a strong point this year with senior returnees Gary Wunderlich at placekicker and Will Gleeson at punter … Both are in their fourth seasons as full-time starters.
• Wunderlich has made a field goal in 19 straight games in which he’s played in.
• Wunderlich currently sits just two field goals shy of breaking all-time Ole Miss record and just 14 points short of becoming the Rebels’ all-time leading scorer in program history.
• Wunderlich has made three field goals in three straight games … He is one of only two kickers in the SEC in the last decade to record at least three FGs in three straight contests.
• Gleeson currently ranks eighth all-time in Ole Miss history in punt average (42.4).
• Ole Miss ranks 15th nationally and first in the SEC in kickoff return average (25.45).
• Kick returner Jaylon Jones leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with 729 total kickoff yardage … Jones is fourth in the SEC with 25.1 yards per return.