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University of Mississippi

Nickname: Rebels
2006 Record:4-8 (2-6 in the SEC)
Coach: Ed Orgeron (7-16 at Ole Miss)
Key Additions/Subtractions: (A) Jerrell Powe DL, (A) Jamie Phillips OLB, (A) Tony Fein LB, (A) Chris Strong DL, (S) Patrick Willis LB,



Overview

The average fan might look at Ole Miss' 2006 season and figure things are just about on par with what they have been for much of the school's history. That's true to an extent, but it should also be pointed out that the Rebels made some strides last year and had the team gotten anything at all from the quarterback position you might be reading about a 6-6 Ole Miss team. But the team got nothing and you're reading about a 4-8 Ole Miss team.

Having said that however, Ole Miss made some improvements in 2006. Not only did the team win more games than they did in 2005, the team also played some of the names tough. Mississippi lost 8 games last season but 4 of those came by a touchdown or less. The season highlight of the lowlights came when the Rebs just missed the upset on the road against a number 9 ranked LSU team. As with much of the season the Rebs just didn't or couldn't do enough to get over the hump, eventually losing the game 23-20 in Baton Rouge.

Some of the questions that went unanswered last year still remain heading into the 2007 season. The most important one being; will the Rebels get anything at all from the quarterback position? If Ed Orgeron and the Mississippi staff can figure out the revolving door that appears to be the quarterback position the team just might have a shot at winning 6 games this year. But for that to happen a lot is going to have go right for the Rebs. Aside from finding a consistent signal caller the Rebels will have to find a replacement for all-everything linebacker Patrick Willis. The team will also have to play well enough to win the toss up games, if not upset one of the bigger name schools to reach that mark. The schedule is not a killer since Vanderbilt, LaTech, Northwestern State and Mississippi State represent winnable games, while LSU, Arkansas, BAMA, Mizzou and Florida are all scheduled on the homefront this year. And anything can happen on the homefront.

A lucky bounce here or there and some consistent play and the Rebels could end up with a .500 season.


Offense

Who's on first? Remember that old Abbott and Costello skit from back in the day? That was the Ole Miss quarterbacking situation for much of last season and it appears to be carrying over into the Fall of 2007. The joke isn't nearly as funny to Ole Miss fans though as it might be to the rest of us.

A short synopsis of the Rebels situation reads something like this;

Fall 2006--Ex-Vol and JUCO phenom Brent Schaeffer is recruited and named the starter before even reaching campus. This is partly due to the staff's expectations and partly a recruiting ploy to influence top prep players (by coach Ed Orgeron's own account). By the end of the season he is losing time to less-heralded players and finds himself often lining up at wide receiver and not under center. A completion percentage of less than half, along with 10 interceptions had a lot to do with that.

Spring 2007--Schaeffer doesn't fare well in the Spring and is on the way to losing his job to senior Seth Adams.

August 2007--Adams is named the Rebels starting quarterback. Schaeffer is lining up at wide receiver (supposedly at his own request).

August 2007--Seth Adams is no longer the team's starting quarterback as Brent Schaeffer is reportedly moved from wide out back to quarterback.

To call the situation chaotic would probably be an understatement. Not only do the players not know who will be chucking the rock this season, the coaches don't seem to have it figured out either. The situation has changed so quickly and so often that many of the preseason publications have Seth Adams listed as the team's quarterback with Schaeffer at wide receiver. But as mention, Schaeffer has reportedly moved back to quarterback (this info coming out as late as the week of August 12th-18th).

What is very likely to happen is that the Rebels staff will give Schaeffer one last chance to show that he can do the job. Schaeffer will run around the field and provide some excitement but not much in the way of meaningful production. He will likely continue to struggle throwing downfield and will eventually split time with Adams, if not lose the job outright. By the time LaTech or BAMA rolls around you will likely see Schaeffer at wide receiver, only lining up under center for some trickeration.


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BenJarvus Green-Ellis/ University of Mississippi
The bright spot on offense going into the season has to be at runningback. Schaeffer was not the only high-profile transfer to come into Oxford last year. Orgeron and staff nabbed BenJarvus Green-Ellis out of Indiana as well. Green-Ellis turned into the team's most consistent scoring threat and the focal point of the offense as he finished his 2006 season cranking out over 1,000 yards and 7 scores. He's not the biggest or most explosive back but he can give you 20-25 touches a game and turn in a solid, steady, blue collar effort on a regular basis. BenJarvus also gets style points for the dreads.

The team could find itself getting help in the rushing department from sophomore Cordera Eason. Though he saw only limited action last year Eason is expected to take on a more sizable role in 2007. He could team with Green-Ellis to provide the team with a solid one-two punch at tailback. As a senior in high school Eason was named to SuperPrep, PrepStar and Lemmings All-America teams, while rushing for 1,934 yards and 21 scores to lead Meridian to the state 5A title game.

The offensive line will be anchored by left tackle Michael Oher. Not only is Oher a mammoth (standing at almost 6-6, 325) he has skills and NFL-level talent. The only problem for him thus far has been consistency. If Oher can continue to develope he will provide the Rebel offense with a solid cornerstone to develope the running game around.

As with the quarterback position the receiving corps has been less than spectacular. Not to mention they come into 2007 extremely thin in terms of experience. The leading returning receiver is Mike Wallace who had 24 catches and 2 touchdowns last season. Opposite him will be Dexter McCluster who hauled in 15 passes and a score. McCluster's numbers could have been better had he not been hampered much of last season by a shoulder injury. Former tailback Mico McSwain will likely be the third receiver while former quarterback Robert Lane mans the tight end position.



Defense

The overall defensive numbers from last year were not all that good, but what makes matters worse is the loss of linebacker Patrick Willis. Willis was considered by many "experts" the top defensive player in the country last year. His loss will definitely hurt the Rebels defense in 2007, especially when you consider that even when the team had him the overall team defensive rankings were not very good. So that tells us that Willis was phenomenal and his teammates were not. Ole Miss finished 2006 ranked 76th in total defense, 94th against the run, and 46th in pass defense.

Things are not likely to improve statistically, but if the Rebels can atleast nullify Willis' loss a little then they may have a shot at winning some games.

The player that most needs to step up and help the Rebel defense this season is defensive tackle Marcus Tillman. Tillman had a decent freshman campaign last year finishing the season with 22 tackles, 2 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. He came to Ole Miss as a highly prized recruit and will be counted on for more production.


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Kentrell Lockett/University of Mississippi
Opposite Tillman will be two-sporter Kentrell Lockett. The redshirt freshman is a pure pass rusher and will be relied on to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks while playing off the end. Lockett also plays basketball for the Rebels and comes to Ole Miss with an impressive prep resume that includes positions on the SuperPrep and PrepStar All-America teams. Rivals listed him as the 8th-best weakside defensive end in the country his senior season in high school.

Not only did the Ole Miss defense lose Willis, but they also lost Rory Johnson and Gary Pack from the corps as well.

Sophomore Jonathan Cornell will be taking over in the middle for Willis. While replacing the departed star will be impossible, Cornell does have the ability to do a serviceable job at middle linebacker. The real concerns regarding Cornell at this point is his lack of experience and size.

Johnson tallied almost 100 combined tackles last season and will be replaced by JUCO transfer Jamie Phillips. Phillips comes to Ole Miss from just down the road, as he played his JUCO ball at Northwest Mississippi Community College. In ten games last season Phillips was credited with 28 tackles (16 solo, 5 of which went for loss), 3 sacks and a forced fumble. While the raw statistics don't measure up to what Johnson did last year the Rebels staff seem perfectly content with Phillips manning the position now. He also has 3 years of eligibility left at Ole Miss.


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Jamarca Sanford/University of Mississippi
The secondary should be serviceable and will be led by junior Jamarca Sanford. Sanford has a reputation as a big hitter and though he is only listed at 5-10 and 200 pounds he plays (and hits) well enough to play some linebacker. Something he did in a number of games last year. Sanford finished last year racking up 64 tackles from his strong safety position.


Specialists

The one are of stability on the team appears to be the kicking game. Sophomore Josh Shene is solid and steady as the placekicker. He connected on 14 of his 17 attempts last season with one of the misses coming from beyond the 50. Junior Rob Park returns to do the punting. Though he averaged less than 40 yards per kick last season he has a knack for pinning teams deep. He put 16 punts inside the 20 yard line last year.

Marshay Green and Dexter McCluster will handle all the return duties. Green averaged 11.2 and 25.2 yards per return on punts and kicks last year.
 

rolltide65

Registered
Is it just me, or does anyone else thing coach O is a joke? being here in Ms, Thats all you hear about. I don't care who his starting QB is. I don,t see them winning more than 2 games and thats if the can beat Memphis State next week.
 

BigAl

Verified Member
Century Club
rolltide65 said:
Is it just me, or does anyone else thing coach O is a joke? being here in Ms, Thats all you hear about. I don't care who his starting QB is. I don,t see them winning more than 2 games and thats if the can beat Memphis State next week.

I think most folks feel the same way including myself.
 
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