Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Ole Miss Rebels season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Ole Miss Rebels
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Ole Miss Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Sometimes, you just hope it all works out for a guy.
Okay, fine. So Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke is making $3 million this year and can call his assistant coaching shot somewhere if the big gig doesn’t work – he’ll be more than fine no matter what. But considering he’s living his dream, he’s the right cheerleader, bringing the appropriate level of enthusiasm and fire – along with doing a whale of a coaching job so far.
In a season when the Rebels had little to play for thanks to the NCAA sanctions, and especially after losing star quarterback Shea Patterson in the middle of the campaign to injury, no one would’ve blinked if they went 4-8, or worse.
But instead, the team kept fighting and battling through a slew of fun games – four of the last five were decided by a touchdown or less, going 2-2 – and it all closed out with a win over Mississippi State.
With no bowl game to go to, and with all the drama and uncertainty, to win six games and beat the arch-rival was a successful year no matter what. But more importantly, the team played hard for Luke, and there seemed to be a genuine coach-player affection thing happening for the interim guy.
And now the dream job is his.
Mississippi through-and-through, he grew up in the state, was a center for the Rebels, was an offensive line coach for a while with the program, and was a key part of the offensive coaching staff under Hugh Freeze. For the moment, he’s the perfect guy to handle what needs to be done.
Because the NCAA wanted to give the players a break in the Freeze fiasco, Luke and the Rebels lost Patterson to Michigan. along with a slew of other transfers. But the starting 22 appears to be fine – for now.
The record won’t really matter – the built-in excuses for anything bad happening this season are more than valid. As long as the Rebels are entertaining, and as long as they’re battling hard, 5-7 is no different than 7-5.
They will be, and in terms of the record, it’ll probably be the latter.
The passing game should be unstoppable at times with QB Jordan Ta’amu getting his trial by fire over the second half of last season. Even with Van Jefferson transferring to Florida, the receiving corps should be one of the SEC’s best.
Luke knows how to work an O line, and he’s got a veteran one returning around star tackle Greg Little. The production has to be there for the running game, but at least the offense will be a blast to watch.
A pass rush has to emerge from some new end options, and the linebacking corps loses its stars, but the secondary is experienced and Benito Jones and Josiah Coatney form a killer defensive interior.
This really will be a fun team to watch thanks to a whole slew of shootouts from a team that can turn it loose. Everyone always wants to win, but when a team wants to win and has nothing to lose, it’s easier to pull out all of the stops.
Survive and advance. That’s what Luke did just to get this job, and that’s what his Rebels will do through the sanctions, too.