Preview 2017: Ole Miss Rebels

Preview 2017: Ole Miss Rebels


Preview 2017: Ole Miss Rebels


Preview 2017: Ole Miss Rebels

Previewing and looking ahead at the Ole Miss season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Ole Miss Preview: College Football’s Most Dangerous Team
2017 Ole Miss Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Ole Miss Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Ole Miss Offense

Is Ole Miss ready to start winging it around the yard? It’s not like the offense was shy about throwing the ball so far in the Hugh Freeze era, and now things are about to go up a level under new head man Matt Luke.

New offensive coordinator Phil Longo likes to crank the tempo up a few notches, and now the Rebels should put the pressure on down the field even more with 2016 superstar QB prospect Shea Patterson leading the way. He’s a baller, and if his receivers come through, the production will be there.

Star tight end Evan Engram is gone, but almost all of the other top targets are back from an O that finished 13th in the nation in passing and 26th overall. With four starters returning up front, Patterson should get plenty of time, and the rotation of running backs should at least be functional. However …

Biggest Key To The Ole Miss Offense

There’s more to the ground game. They averaged just 194 yards per game last season with fewer than 1,800 yards on the season, but the ground attack was never been a big thing under Freeze.

However, it would be nice to get a little bit of production. Last season, the Rebels lost to Mississippi State despite running for over 200 yards, finishing 1-6 when rushing for 150 yards or fewer.

What You Need To Know About The Ole Miss Defense

It has to be a whole lot better. One of the nation’s most fearsome defenses fell off the map last season, finishing 120th in the nation against the run and 111th overall. Everyone but Wofford and Georgia scored fewer than 27 points on the used-to-be-known-as Landshark D.

Welcome in new defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff, who’s changing things up a bit – don’t expect anything too funky right away.

The big break came when DE Marquis Haynes decided to come back for his final year. He’s the pass rusher the line needs, but now the tackles have to come through in the rotation, hoping for rising star Benito Jones to become the new start to build around.

There isn’t anything too special in the linebacking corps, but at least there’s returning production, starting with leading tackler DeMarquis Gaines. The secondary has a nice group of safeties to count on, while the corner situation should be good enough, if not deep right away.

Biggest Key To The Ole Miss Defense

The defense has to be better in crunch time. Last year’s D bent and broke, having a nightmare of a time coming up with stops in the red zone. The Rebels were 11th in the nation in red zone D in 2014 and two years later had the third-worst defense in the country inside the 20, allowing points 94% of the time.

Ole Miss Will Be Far Better If …

Somehow, keep control of games despite getting destroyed in time of possession. The Rebels have never seemed to care about the clock, finishing among the worst teams in the country in possession. That didn’t matter when the defense was a killer – it managed to hold up well – but when there were problems coming up with stops, all of a sudden, controlling the game was harder.

Now, with the Longo offense being implemented, the offense will likely go even faster. That’s fine when it’s working, but when it’s not, those three-and-outs come in a big hurry. This year’s D can’t handle that sort of stress.

Best Ole Miss Offensive Player

QB Shea Patterson, Soph. – Considered by some as the top quarterback prospect in the nation last season, he was the backup right away behind Chad Kelly, and then, when pressed into duty, he showed what all the fuss was about.

The 6-2, 203-pounder hit 55% of his passes for 880 yards and six touchdowns with three picks in his three games of work, and ran a little bit, too. He carved up Texas A&M for 338 yards in the win, and cranked up 320 yards in the loss to Mississippi State, throwing for two scores in each of the last three games. Now he’s the face of the franchise, and he should blow up in the new O – it’s his team to run.

2. OT Greg Little, Soph.
3. OG Javon Patterson, Jr.
4. WR Van Jefferson, Soph.
5. OG Jordan Sims, Jr.

Best Ole Miss Defensive Player

DE Marquis Haynes, Sr. – He could’ve come out early and possibly been a top 100 pick, but now he’s back as one of the nation’s top pass rushers.

The 6-3, 222-pound hybrid outside defender came up with 53 tackles with seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss with a pick after cranking up ten sacks two years ago.

While he might not be big enough to hold up against the power running teams, he’s lightning-quick with a great burst off the ball. Steady, he has to be accounted for on every play.

2. S Myles Hartsfield, Soph.
3. CB Jaylon Jones, Soph.
4. DT Beneto Jones, Soph.
5. LB DeMarquis Gates, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

DT Beneto Jones, Soph. – The Ole Miss run defense has to be the Ole Miss run defense again, and it starts on the inside up front. The D fell off the map last year, allowing 2,956 rushing yards and 31 scores, after giving up a mere 1,652 yards and nine touchdowns – with one more game – in 2015.

Now it’s up to Jones to lead the charge after getting hit feet wet as a freshman, coming up with 39 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Now the 6-2, 308-pounder has to be more of an anchor.

The Ole Miss Season Will Be A Success If …

The Rebels come up with a winning campaign, and … really screw up a few teams along the way. Since all that matters is the regular season, Ole Miss can have some fun letting it all hang out week after week. Coming up with at least six wins shouldn’t be a problem with South Alabama, UT Martin, Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Lafayette at home as a base. But they have to go on the road to deal with …

Key Game To The Ole Miss Season

Nov. 23 at Ole Miss – The 55-20 loss stunk on all levels. It was a home defeat that allowed the Bulldogs to go bowling, and kept the Rebels at home. It was a blowout loss to the rival, and it was coming off an unacceptable loss to Vanderbilt, ending a dud of a season on the biggest sour note possible.

This year, even though the team will treat every game like a bowl, the Egg Bowl really will be it.

2016 Ole Miss Fun Stats

– 3rd Quarter Scoring: Opponents 119 – Ole Miss 44
– Time of Possession: Opponents 34:04 – Ole Miss 25:56
– Penalties: Opponents 82 for 691 yards – Ole Miss 59 for 520 yards

2017 Ole Miss Preview: College Football’s Most Dangerous Team
2017 Ole Miss Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Ole Miss Previews: 2016 | 2015

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