Teams & Conferences

Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2016

Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze prepares to take his team onto the field to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2016 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 1, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze prepares to take his team onto the field to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the 2016 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Rebels, best players and what you need to know.

10 Ole Miss Players To Know | Ole Miss Preview: Pressure Is On

What You Need To Know About The Ole Miss Offense

The Rebel offense needs Chad Kelly to be 100%. The star quarterback from the nation’s No. 8 scoring attack is getting over hernia surgery, and if he’s back to form right away, the attack should be able to overcome the loss of Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core from the receiving corps and still move. Kelly also needs the line in front of him to rock, too.

Laremy Tunsil is gone – but very much not forgotten – along with three other starters up front, but it’s a talented group that just needs a little time it’s not going to get. The offense has gotten by without a great ground game over the last few years, but this could be a problem area without any special backs to work around.

It might be a little too much to call it Kelly or bust for the Ole Miss O, but it won’t be far off.

Biggest Key To The Ole Miss Offense
How long will it take for the line to come together? It’s do-over time for the front five with all the starters needing to be replaced, but there’s a whole lot of talent to get excited about. It’s just going to need a little bit before it all starts to work.

Fortunately, this was a deep area throughout last year and parts of it came together quickly throughout the spring. However, superstar recruit Greg Little might need to be thrown to the wolves right away at one of the tackle spots, and the center job needs fixing and needs a good battle.

What You Need To Know About The Ole Miss Defense

It wasn’t No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense like 2014, but the Land Shark defense was tremendous at times. It didn’t need to be dominant thanks to an improved offense, but now it might have to be stronger and steadier.

It’ll have to go on without Robert Nkemdiche on the line, but the pass rush should be solid starting with Marquis Haynes on the outside and with a good rotation in the interior.

The linebacking corps isn’t full of big thumpers, but it’ll be fast and athletic, and the secondary should be okay after fall camp if safety Tony Conner is back from his knee injury. The corner situation is good, and the depth is terrific.

Biggest Key To The Ole Miss Defense
The defensive front has to be salty from the start. It’s hardly a plus to lose a star like Nkemdiche, but the line has to attack like it did over the second half of the season with pressure from all four spots.

The pass rush was way too light to start the season, but the front four found its groove with Marquis Haynes leading the way from the outside. That’ll be fine, but the defense has to be a rock against the run right away with Dalvin Cook and Florida State coming up first and with Alabama and Georgia coming up after the quirky Wofford option attack.

Ole Miss Will Be Far Better If …

It takes on an us-against-the-world attitude. It could be an ugly offseason potentially bringing a slew of allegations and venom after all the Laremy Tunsil issues. Before it got blown out of the water by the NCAA, USC used the negative outside forces as a galvanizing force. It’ll be easy for the Rebels to worry about what’s coming next, and it’ll be the focus in a whole bunch of ways they might not like. The players have to block it all out.

Best Ole Miss Offensive Player

QB Chad Kelly, Sr. – Bo Wallace was ripped on for his inconsistencies and big mistakes in key moments, but he threw just one more interception in 2014 than Kelly did last year. The difference? Kelly ran well, threw better, and showed off a magical quality in the win over Alabama. He’s an NFL-caliber quarterback who has to make everyone around him better as the steady, veteran leader.

Best Ole Miss Defensive Player

DE Marquis Haynes, Jr. – Ole Miss came up with 29 sacks last year, but it wasn’t until Haynes picked up his game that the pass rush started to rock. The linebacker-sized pass rusher generated ten of the team’s sacks, but he only had half of one over the first four games. The rest of the way, he had to be focused on with two sacks in three games, turning into a speedy disruptive factor.

Key Player To A Successful Season

RB Akeem Judd, Jr. – Ole Miss hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Dexter McCluster in 2009, and it’s not likely to have one this year – that’s not how the offense is going to roll. However, there has to be someone who can take a little of the pressure off of Chad Kelly, who’ll add plenty of rushing yards on his own.

Judd was okay when he got his chances last year, but he didn’t do anything to make a big splash outside of a nice day against Texas A&M. If Judd can combine with Jordan Wilkins to average over five yards per carry, they’ll be getting the job done.

The Ole Miss Season Will Be A Success If …

It’s a third straight year with nine wins or more. Forget about winning the SEC West – there are just too many holes and too many key things needing to break the right way – but if the Rebels can win nine regular season games for the third straight season, and come up with a bowl victory, it’ll be a phenomenal achievement considering the schedule.

Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, at Arkansas, at LSU, Auburn, at Texas A&M, Mississippi State – any normal team would get plowed under by this slate, not to mention dangerous games against Memphis and Georgia Southern along with the trip to Vandy.

Key Game

Sept. 17 vs. Alabama It’s a horrible thing to not only have to play Alabama to start the SEC season, but to also have to come up with the win. Throw in the revenge factor after winning the last two years, and it’s going to be a game that goes a long way to determining the course of the season both in the SEC and on a national scale. With the horrific road games to follow, the Rebels could be in for a long year with a loss.

2015 Ole Miss Fun Stats

– First Quarter Scoring: Ole Miss 147 – Opponents 39
– Rushing Touchdowns: Ole Miss 29 – Opponents 9
– Time of Possession: Opponents 33:28 – Ole Miss 26:32

2016 Ole Miss Season Prediction

What’s going to happen to Ole Miss this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …