2008 Mississippi Rebels Football Preview
Ole Miss 2007 Record: (3-9, 0-8)
2007 Bowl: none
Ole Miss Head Coach: Houston Nutt (1 st year at Mississippi, 111-70 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kent Austin
Defensive Coordinator: Tyrone Nix
Returning Leaders for Ole Miss:
Other Key Returnees: S Johnny Brown, FB Jason Cook, LB Tony Fein, WR Marshay Green, DT Peria Jerry, S Kendrick Lewis, OT Maurice Miller, CB Dustin Mouzon, OT Michael Oher, LB Jamie Phillips, DE Marcus Tillman
Key Losses: C Corey Actis, QB Seth Adams, CB Nate Banks, DT Jeremy Garrett, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Robert Lane, QB Brent Schaeffer
New head man Houston Nutt stepped into a pretty good situation at Mississippi. Former coach Ed Ogeron was bringing in some decent talent, but failed to get results on the field. The Rebels hope Coach Nutt will turn the talent into victories. However, it might take more than one year.
Defensive end Greg Hardy was not even a full-time starter, but he managed to lead the team with ten sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, which ranked second in the entire conference. Now an upperclassman, Hardy is expected to cause even more havoc in the opponent’s backfield. With Marcus Tillman on the other end and Peria Jerry in the middle, Ole Miss has plenty of dangerous and experienced players on the line.When Michael Oher, who would have likely been a first round selection, opted to stay in school it immediately made the offensive line very strong. With fellow tackle Maurice Miller and guards John Jerry and Reid Neely also returning, the offensive line will keep the offense moving relatively well. Shay Hodge, Dexter McCluster and Mike Wallace will give the quarterback plenty of receiving threats. Coach Nutt will use McCluster much like he did Darren McFadden last year at Arkansas.
But will new quarterback Jevan Snead live up to the high expectations? Snead, who transferred from Texas after it became clear that Colt McCoy was not giving up the job, is being asked to lead the team right away. He has the skills, but so did former quarterback Brent Schaeffer who found himself in a similar situation a few years ago and that did not go so well. The Rebels also have to find a new running back after BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 1,137 yards and six touchdowns during his senior campaign. Once again, there is plenty of talent, but Cordera Eason still has to prove that he can hang onto the ball despite having a great spring and Enrique Davis will be the back of the future, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the pressure right now.
The Bottom Line for the Rebels:
The linebackers were not great last year, but at least all three starters are back and Ashlee Palmer is ready for a big senior season. The secondary is a little more of a problem and Mississippi will need the group to drastically improve if the team wants to consider going to a bowl game. To address the problem, Marshay Green, who caught 31 passes as a receiver last season, is moving to cornerback. If he learns quickly and becomes the top corner the team hopes, Ole Miss has enough guaranteed wins that they are just a couple upsets away from their first bowl game since 2003.
2007 Mississippi Rebels Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 131.50 (84th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 213.75 (66, 7)
Total Offense: 345.25 (91, 9)
Scoring Offense: 20.08 (104, 12)
Rushing Defense: 199.08 (101, 11)
Pass Defense: 224.33 (52, 10)
Total Defense: 423.42 (88, 12)
Scoring Defense: 28.50 (70, 11)
Turnover Margin: -.83 (107, 12)
Sacks: 1.75 (81, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 2.25 (75, 10)
By Joel Welser
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