Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ole Miss Hopes Nutt Cracks The SEC Cellar


SEC West #6 Ole Miss Rebels

2007 Season and Offseason
Ole Miss labored through Ed Ogeron's final season in Oxford finishing just 3-9 with 0 SEC wins. Houston Nutt was lured in from Arkansas to replace Ogeron. The Rebels had another solid recruiting class and welcome Texas transfer QB Jevan Snead.
2007 Record: 3-9, 0-8
Ret. Starters: 16
Ret. Lettermen: 48
Off PPG 16.4 (12th), RYPG 125.0 (9th), PYPG 214.4 (6th)
Def PPG 31.5 (11th) RYPG 212.9 (11th), PYPG 195.4 (4th)

Offense (7 RS, 19RL)
Snead is expected to start after sitting out last year. Snead will be backed up by three freshmen so an injury could make things dicey. Benjarvus Green-Ellis is gone, but there may not be much dropoff to freshman Enrique Davis. WR Dexter Mcluster is the leading returning rusher with just six attempts. Ole Miss returns their top five receivers from last year. Mike Wallace and Shay Hodge had six TDs each. Michael Oher is one of the best NFL prospects and turned down that opportunity to return for his senior season. This unit returns four starters and gains Arkansas' old o-line coach who lead the SEC in rushing five of the last six years.

Defense (9 RS, 25 RL)
Ole Miss returns their top 14 tacklers from last year which is remarkable. DE Greg Hardy had 10 sacks last year but must keep his head on straight to stay on the field (edit 8/17 Greg Hardy out 6-8 weeks with broken foot). DL Jerrell Powe finally fully qualified and will be available this year. Powe was a top recruit back in 2005. LB Ashlee Palmer and Tony Fein were the two leading tacklers last season and are expected to challenge for All-SEC. Palmer also had 3 INT. Ole Miss loses just 1 starter in the secondary. Jamarca Sanford was the third leading tackler a year ago and CB Dustin Mouzon had 2 picks.

Special Teams
Both kickers return. Justin Sparks had 51 punts last year, a number Nutt hopes is much less this year. Marshay Green could return both kick and punts if necessary.

Recruiting

Schedule
Ole Miss plays vMemphis, @Wake, vSamford, and vUL-Monroe in the non-conf. From the East they draw @Florida, vSo Carolina, and vVandy. The three game stretch again West foes @Alab, @Ark, and vAuburn will decide the Rebels fate.

Final Thoughts
I have seen many predictions with Ole Miss finishing fourth and being a surprise team in the SEC. I think many are looking at the number of returning starters and the past recruiting classes. I think Ole Miss will be improved too, but they also have to adjust to a new coaching staff and the returnees won't be enough to get out of the SEC West cellar this year.

Prediction:
Likely Loss: @Florida, vAuburn, @LSU
Likely Win: vSamford, vUL-Monroe
5-7, 2-6

Next Up: SEC East #6

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