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Ole Miss

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*** Note -  7/20/17 - Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigned

Ole Miss was regarded early on last year as one of the best teams with a losing record, but at the end of the season, that didn’t mean anything as the Rebels finished 5-7 and didn't even make a bowl game. While they can’t go to a bowl this year after a self-imposing ban, that probably won’t matter in the end for this team yet again. The defense was the major issue throughout 2016 allowing 34.0 points per game and that is set to be the case again after a high-scoring spring game.

That high scoring was made possible with starting quarterback Shea Patterson unleashing for 341 yards and a couple touchdowns. Even in a dumbed down offense, Patterson excelled in new coordinator Phil Longo’s system (from Sam Houston State). Patterson started the final three games last season so he comes in with some experience and that should help, as well as his ability to move on the ground, similar to Chad Kelly. The problem for Ole Miss could once again be in the running game where they may not get better with Eugene Brazley (261 yards) the top returnee. Without a run game, everything will depend on Patterson, much like has been the case for Kelly in recent seasons. At the least, Patterson will have weapons in the passing game from A.J. Brown, who led the way in the spring game to Van Jefferson and D.J. Metcalf.

But even if Ole Miss can score, it’s the defense that needs to step up. The Rebels struggled to stop any relevant team a year ago, from giving up 40-plus to FSU and ‘Bama to closing the season in a whopping 55-20 loss in the Egg Bowl. Wesley McGriff takes over as the full-time defensive coordinator and he has his hands full with a lot of new faces. McGriff is expected to attack a bit more than last year’s group as he has talent, but a lot of underperforming players. Breon Dixon is expected to make a mark at linebacker with Marquis Haynes needed to step up on the line. The Rebs struggled mightily against the run and that will be the main area for needed improvement. If they can’t go up another notch from last year, it could be another season full of struggles.

Instead of starting the year off with a losing record, the Rebels at least get a couple favorable games to start the season before traveling to Cal, Alabama and Auburn. If the defense can’t survive in Cal, it’s going to have more problems in those first two SEC games. But if Ole Miss can escape those games with some hope, a midseason stretch opens up that should allow for at least a few wins before having to go to Starkville for the Egg Bowl.

With the NCAA investigation still ongoing in late April, there are plenty of questions surrounding this team and the prospects of no bowl game is also a detractor. The Rebels are projected to finish last in the West and were +6600 in the spring to win the SEC (seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook).


2017 Ole Miss Rebels Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. South Alabama
Sept. 9 vs. UT-Martin
Sept. 16 at California
Sept. 30 at Alabama

Oct. 7 at Auburn
Oct. 14 vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 21 vs. LSU
Oct. 28 vs. Arkansas
Nov. 4 at Kentucky
Nov. 11 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 18 vs. Texas A&M
Nov. 23 at Mississippi State

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