OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze frowned and looked down at his injury report, then started to list all the guys who might not play this weekend.
A minute later, he was finished. He had named nearly half of the starting defense, the starting running back and the backup quarterback.
That's a big issue for the Rebels (3-3, 1-3 Southeastern Conference), considering they're preparing to face No. 6 LSU (6-1, 3-1). The Tigers are averaging 41.4 points per game, which ranks third in the league.
"It's part of the game, but you sure hate it," Freeze said. "You hate it for the kids. You fear that because of our depth issues we won't be able to adequately represent the progress we're making against these top teams. But that's part of the game. We won't blink. We'll get the ones we have ready."
For Ole Miss, stopping LSU's offense is another huge challenge in a month full of them. The Rebels have lost three straight to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M.
It won't get any easier against the Tigers.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been one of the SEC's best players this season, throwing for 1,890 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His main targets are two of the league's most prolific receivers — Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry — and running back Jeremy Hill is second in the SEC with 119.2 yards rushing per game.
"Our goal (against LSU) will be to eliminate the amount of explosive plays that they have and manage the game that way," Freeze said. "But those guys are good enough where they're going to win some of those battles."
Ole Miss will be trying to beat LSU with a skeleton crew. Freeze said linebacker Serderius Bryant (concussion) and defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring) are among about a half-dozen defensive players who would likely miss Saturday's game.
Bryant leads the team with 55 tackles.
Ole Miss is coming off a 41-38 loss to Texas A&M last weekend. The Rebels had a 38-31 lead with six minutes remaining before Johnny Manziel led the Aggies on back-to-back scoring drives to win the game.