Preview 2017: Is Ole Miss College Football’s Most Dangerous Team?
Previewing and looking ahead at the Ole Miss season – and what you need to know.
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Pretentious Tyler Durden quotes aside, Ole Miss might just have the most dangerous team in college football.
The 2017 Rebels won’t be amazing like they were a few years ago, and they’re not going to be any sort of a threat to take the SEC West title, but after all the sanctions, and after all the NCAA issues, now, new head coach Matt Luke’s team is able to do anything.
Ole Miss should be free to play however it wants to.
There are a few lost scholarships and a lot of money to give back, but they amount to nothing more than a stern finger-wagging after getting nailed for a few recruiting violations and benefits issues.
For purposes of things you care about for the season, the self-imposed bowl ban is what really matters.
While the school would, of course, like to go to a bowl game, and if everything broke right, the College Football Playoff. But in terms of expectations and bringing everyone together, the team is in a brilliant spot.
Ole Miss wasn’t a lock to get to six wins this season, and if it did, it was most likely going to be off to some minor bowl game. Now, 5-7, 4-8, 8-4, 2-10 – it doesn’t matter. There’s no end game. There’s no carrot on the end of the stick. The season will be 12 games full of whatever they are, and then that’s it.
Bad season? Whatever – blame it on the loss of Freeze, the NCAA and the sanctions.
Great year? Boom – the team overcame the problems and set the tone for the following few seasons.
Now, the team is taking on an Every Game’s A Bowl mentality, getting to ramp up the intensity each and every week knowing that there’s absolutely no pressure.
And that means the coaching staff can pull out all the stops, experiment where needed, and use all of 2017 season as a redshirt year for 2018.
And that means Ole Miss is going to be scary to deal with.
How do you beat an Alabama, an LSU, an Auburn? You let it all roll and be that sort of unpredictable team that no one wants to face – and have fun doing it.
You think Crimson Tide players get to just play for the joy of the Saturday?
But that also assumes that Ole Miss is going will good enough talent-wise to hang with the better teams in the SEC to let the intangible side kick in. That part of the equation is a bit sketchy.
Two new coordinators should change things up a bit, with Phil Longo’s up-tempo offense already adding more speed to a great passing game, and defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff looking to try making things easier until all the young players get more time and more of a rotation to develop.
Shea Patterson is one of college football’s brightest young quarterbacks. He gets to work behind a line that gets back four starters, and with a receiving corps that’s just good enough, and a group of running backs that might not should form a nice rotation.
The D will be nowhere near special enough compared to the heyday of the Landshark fun, but there won’t be a drop-off – last year’s defense was already lousy.
Gary Wunderlich is one of the nation’s top kickers, and Will Gleeson is a strong enough punter to give the Rebels a strength on special teams.
And then there’s Luke.
He catches a big break after taking over the gig. Nothing rallies a fan base more than outsiders trying to rip on their team and program. Get ready for the ultimate Us vs. Them season and rallying cry.
And it just might work.