In Week Nine, the Tigers and the Rebels will match up on the Plains with Ole Miss looking for their first win in East Alabama since God caused Ben Obomanu's game-changing greased-up spasm in 2003. And, as Kyle King pointed out, it will be the first Ole Miss-Auburn game not involving Tommy Tuberville since Michael Jordan was playing minor league baseball and Hillary Clinton was just the spouse.
Many claim that there is little animosity between Auburn and Ole Miss, save a dose of Tuberville-related hate that will almost assuredly wane now that he will not be beating the Rebels while dressed in blue and orange. It makes sense. Before 1990, the Faulkner men had only met the ... Barkley boys (?) fourteen times. Before Tommy. Before the Western Division, Auburn was to Ole Miss little more than a distant cousin, purportedly a "cow college," but a fellow hater of the Crimson Tide. A few years of the Chizik era might restore our relationship to something not-so-far from ambivalence.
And, ah, Mr. Chizik, whose introduction must have been the ultimate "Who Is This Guy." Chizik was expected to, at least, maintain the typically stingy defenses executed during the Tuberville administration - and brought in the Arkansas version of Ricky Woods to do the offense stuff. And that all worked out great . . . for a while. Now, it appears that for Auburn to avoid a cataclysmic free-fall into Shreveport - or worse - its defense will have to return. And we know the guy that might make it happen.
You should already know this guy. He's Antonio Coleman. He is ninth in the conference in tackles for loss with 7 and this senior defensive end is a returning member of the All-SEC First Team. He leads a defense that has sacked opposing quarterbacks 15 times for over 111 yards. Additionally he has one interception and two pass break-ups. And he caused a fumble.
While his statistics are not SEC-leading, he leads a defense that thrives on big performances from players like him. And, welcome to the broken record portion of the show, an opposing pressure defensive end ought still be the source of greatest concern for those betting on Ole Miss. And, for some reasons, Antonio Coleman's mildly-disappointing 2009 is far less mild than the disappearance of his hype.
For these reasons, Antontio Coleman is who media-types ought to look at when they decide that the Rebels' win over Auburn was, in fact, a sign that they have turned a corner. The missing performance link for Ole Miss was for some time quarterback protection. Anything better than adequate quarterback protection against Coleman and the Auburn pass rush will be a sure sign - undeniable, even - that this early season weakness no longer exists.
Who is this guy? He is Antonio Coleman, the man that, as iron sharpens iron, can prove the Ole Miss offensive front.