Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2022: Offense

The offense is going to work just fine. Yeah, Matt Corral was great, and yeah, the players make the machine go, but Lane Kiffin really is an elite offensive mind with the coaching staff that knows what it’s doing.

Ole Miss led the SEC in total offense, averaged 34 points per game, and it all worked about about 240 miles per hour. There might be a whole lot of new names and new parts, but nothing stops. However …

The offensive line needs to be stronger at keeping defenses out of the backfield. It was fine for what the O had to do and was great for the ground game, but it was awful in pass protection – Corral got beaten to a pulp; partly because of his own doing, and partly because of the blocking.

There will be some movement in the front five to get the pieces in the right spots. Nick Broeker is a pro prospect whether it’s at tackle or guard, Caleb Warren can play anywhere in the interior, and Mason Brooks comes from WKU as a ready-made right tackle who knows how to pass protect.

The running backs are starting over. Instead of Jerrion Ealy, Snoop Conner, and Henry Parrish, the Rebels went and fixed the glitch through the transfer portal with Zach Evans (TCU) and Ulysses Bentley (SMU). Those two combined for over 3,000 yards of total offense and 27 scores at their respective schools.

The Rebels might have lost the ultra-efficient, multi-talented Corral, but there’s a chance they got an even better passer by landing Jaxson Dart from USC. Luke Altmyer is deep in the mix for the starting job after serving as the backup to Corral, and Kinkead Dent got in a little work, but …

A guy with Dart’s talent doesn’t go to Ole Miss unless he knew it really was the place for him.

Like the running backs, the wide receivers are getting an overhaul from the transfer portal. The top three receivers from last year are gone, but Jonathan Mingo is back after making 22 catches before getting hurt – he missed over half of the season hurt – and Dennis Jackson is back after averaging over 20 yards per catch.

This group will be about the new guys. Jordan Watkins from Louisville and Malik Heath from Mississippi State should be the best of the lot, UCF’s Jaylon Robinson is a dangerous deep threat and tight end Michael Trigg out of USC should start right away.

Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2022: Defense

So here’s the good part about the 2021 Ole Miss defense. It improved in a big way from the 2020 version, and was the program’s best since 2014. Here’s the bad part about last year’s D – it was 97th in the nation overall, was awful against the run, and there wasn’t a penalty that this group didn’t like to commit.

The transfer portal isn’t bringing in the bulk starters like the offensive side is, but the depth has been fortified by a whole lot of new guys including from the great recruiting class.

The pass rush was good, but top sacker Sam Williams and his 12.5 sacks are done. Edge rusher Cedrick Johnson was No. 2 with 6.5 sacks. He’s back on the outside helped by TCU transfer Khari Coleman and Georgia Tech’s Jared Ivey. Isaiah Iton, KD Hill, and Jamond Gordon will go along with Auburn transfer JJ Pegues for the inside – it’ll be a big, good rotation.

The two and the 4-2-5 will make a whole bunch of plays. Ashanti Cistrunk will step up into a bigger role in the middle – taking over for leading tackler Chance Campbell – but the real star should be Troy Brown, a three-time First Team All-MAC playmaker who gets all over the field.

The defensive backs do most of the heavy lifting for a D that often gets six guys on the field. The safeties have playmakers with leading returning tackler Otis Reese back after finishing third on the team with 91 stops.

AJ Finley made 90 tackles and led the team with three interceptions, and on the way is Isheem Young from Iowa State after making 105 tackles and forcing five fumbles in two years. Miles Battle leads a decent group of corners, but the backups are you and need more work.

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