SEC Football Preview: Ole Miss

Collin Brister
Sports Writer

With Ole Miss’ being banned from postseason play, that will put even more of an emphasis on their 12 games.
The Rebels will have the pieces during the 2017 to be elite on the offensive side of the football, especially through the air.
They’ll have sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson behind center, and while he struggled at times during his final three games, he also showed flashes of brilliance that Rebel fans have to look forward to during his time in Oxford.
Ole Miss will likely struggle to run the football, something that they’ve done ever since head coach Hugh Freeze arrived in Oxford in 2012, but they’ve shown throughout his tenure that they have the ability to overcome that through throwing the football.
The Rebels are stacked at the wide receiver position, as they’ll have senior Markell Pack, junior DeMarkus Lodge, and sophomores DK Metcalf, AJ Brown and Van Jefferson leading the way. All of them had productive 2016 seasons.
Where Ole Miss may be most improved in the 2017 season is among the offensive line. They struggled mightily at times last year in protecting the quarterback, but they return almost everyone from the 2016 season on the line, and that will help in building chemistry to protect Patterson.
The Rebels will have senior running back Jordan Willkins and sophomore running back Eric Swinney who they’ll count on to carry the load of the carries.
Ole Miss’ defense last year was one of the worst in division-one football, and they’ll hope that incoming defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff can make it better.
The Rebels just couldn’t find any consistency from their linebackers, and they tried just about everyone on their depth chart at the position. The couldn’t fit run gaps very well, and the linebackers were a liability in pass coverage every single play.
The Rebels struggled at getting pressure on the quarterback as well, and they couldn’t cause penetration against teams on running plays.
The scheme wasn’t the problem for the Rebels last season. It was that they just didn’t have the foot-speed to keep up and make routine plays on defense.
East Opponents
Vanderbilt-The Rebels were promptly embarrassed by Vanderbilt last season, as the Commodores ran wild on the defense, and Ole Miss couldn’t respond on the offensive side of the football. The Rebels will get Vanderbilt at home in 2017, and they’ll need to come out with a victory to have a successful season.
Kentucky-The Wildcats are on the upswing, and it’ll be tough for Ole Miss to go to Lexington next season and come out with a victory. Kentucky has recruited well under head coach Mark Stoops, and they’ll likel be favored when Ole Miss heads to the Commonwealth state.