THE SEASON AHEAD: OLE MISS
C&F still finds it hard to believe -- even with all the recruiting issues -- that this is what Ole Miss fans had in mind when the school fired David Cutcliffe after his first losing season. Ed Orgeron enters his third year having posted a 3-8 season and a 4-8 season.
Could there be some improvement this year? Sure. Could Orgeron eventually shake off the mocking of the photosphere and lead the Rebels to the top of the SEC West? Maybe. But one wonders if the road would have been this long had Ole Miss kept Cutcliffe.
Brent Schaeffer is out and Seth Adams is in as starter at QB. (Schaeffer, in fact, has been shuffled over to WR.) But this offense is built around BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who rushed for 1,000 yards even and 7 TDs while challenging Verne Lundquist's tongue. The receivers are question marks.
This is a huge question mark for the Rebels this year, in part because of new faces (they lose their top three tacklers) and in part because of new coordinator John Thompson. Yes, our old friend is back in the SEC. It's doubtful, though, that Orgeron will allow Thompson to have his defenders doing summersaults, back flips and triple lutzes the way they did when Thompson was with the Gamecocks. SS Jamarca Sanford is highly regarded.
Watch this, men.
Joshua Shene was 14-of-17 on FG attempts last year, including a long of 52 yards. Rob Park averaged 38.9 yards a punt. Dexter McCluster averaged 21.1 yards a kick return, with Marshay Green averaging 11.2 yards on punt returns.
Again, Orgeron hasn't had much success so far, and he'll need to show tangible signs of progress to stay off the hot seat. Another 4-8 season could start the grumbling in Oxford.
But another 4-8 season is exactly what C&F sees, with likely wins at Memphis, against Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State and at Mississippi State. Vanderbilt could be another win. But beyond that, the Rebels play Missouri, Florida, at Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, at Auburn and against LSU. Personally, C&F thinks the Commodores are better than the Rebels, so he'll stick with 4-8.