Mississippi Preview 2006 - Offense
Ole Miss Rebels
Posted Aug 8, 2006

Ole Miss Rebels Preview 2006 - Ole Miss Rebel Offense

What you need to know ... Massive changes are being made to an offense that managed a mere 73 rushing yards and 13.45 points per game. Offensive coordinator Dan Werner and offensive line coach Art Kehoe come over from Miami, QB Brent Schaeffer comes over from Tennessee, and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis comes in from Indiana. The ground game should be night-and-day better, and it needs to be with no experience whatsoever at wide receiver. Green-Ellis and Mico McSwain should form a solid 1-2 punch, while the mobile Schaeffer will instantly give a boost to the rushing totals. Kehoe will get a promising line into shape in a hurry led by tackle Michael Oher. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: Robert Lane (TE)
9-22, 79 yds, 41%
Rushing: Mico McSwain
124 carries, 612 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Robert Lane
17 catches, 213 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore OT Michael Oher
Player that has to step up and become a star: Freshman WR Marshay Green
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore FB Jason Cook
Best pro prospect: Oher
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Oher, 2) QB Brent Schaeffer, 3) RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense: Wide receiver

Consistency. The Rebels didn't get any from the position last season dealing with a musical quarterback situation that killed the offensive production. That's why Ed Orgeron didn't hesitate to name Tennessee transfer Brent Schaeffer the starter despite not being around for spring ball. On the plus side, Schaeffer's absence allowed Seth Adams and Billy Tapp to get plenty of work. Considering Schaeffer's penchant for running and for taking some big shots, Adams and Tapp have to be ready.
The key to the unit: A full season out of Brent Schaeffer would be fantastic, but having a set pecking order at quarterback, and a true number one to work around, will do wonders.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5

Projected Starter
- Brent Schaeffer, Jr.
The troubled Tennessee transfer was named the starter before he even set foot on campus. The left-hander was one of the nation's hottest JUCO recruits after leaving Knoxville and playing for the College of the Sequoias where he threw for 2,970 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for 860 yards and ten scores. He's never going to be a high-octane passer, but his mobility will keep defensive coordinators awake at night. Now he has the experience he was missing when he was a Volunteer and will be expected to be the leader of the program for the next two seasons.

Top Backups
- Seth Adams, Jr.
The JUCO transfer walked on to the team and got most of the work this spring with Brent Schaeffer not yet on campus. He's a sharp passer with good size and a nice arm, but he's not going to run like Schaeffer will. Showing enough knowledge of the offense to see time right away if needed, he cemented himself as the number two quarterback this spring.
- Billy Tapp, RFr.
The 6-4, 225-pound Tapp had a nice spring game showing good accuracy and a little bit of mobility. He has a live arm and good athleticism with enough talent to push all year for the number two job.

Running Backs
Only Kent State ran for fewer yards than Ole Miss, so it won't be hard to do more than the 73 yards per game and six touchdown runs from last year, especially with a running quarterback like Brent Schaeffer. Indiana transfer BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a 100-yard workhorse waiting to happen, while sophomore Mico McSwain is a talented young back who should be more dangerous as a number two man. Former quarterback Bruce Hall adds a little bit of depth, but the hope is for him to be used sparingly. Jason Cook is a good-looking young fullback who should grow into a key piece of the offensive puzzle.
The key to the unit: Production. The Rebels netted a total of 71 rushing yards over the final four games of last year.
Running Back Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jr.
Green-Ellis was a bright young tailback at Indiana rushing for 1,732 yards in two seasons. Now he's a Rebel and should be an instant upgrade for a woeful rushing attack with his ability to power it between the tackles to go along with the quickness to get outside. He took over the top spot this spring for his blocking and receiving skills as well as his workhorse running ability.

- Fullback Jason Cook, Soph. - 3 carries, 7 yards, 4 catches, 29 yds
Cook went down for the year with a broken arm in the sixth game and spent the off time getting up to 230 pounds. He should be used more as a runner and a receiver, but his real need will be as a big blocker. He should be a fixture of the offense for the next three seasons.

Top Backups
- Mico McSwain, Soph. - 124 carries, 612 yds, 4.9 ypc, 3 TD, 7 catches, 82 yds, 11.7 ypc
Last year's leading rusher had a few nice moments with three 100-yard days, but he didn't have enough of them to keep the starting job going into this season. Even so, he has the skills to eventually be a major all-around playmaker. Mostly a speed runner who has spent time as a receiver and a cornerback, he has the size at 6-1 and 203 pounds to do more up the middle and should make more of an impact as a receiver.
- Bruce Hall, Jr.
The JUCO transfer by way of Wake Forest and Troy came to Ole Miss as a quarterback and quickly made the switch to running back in spring ball. He's a tough 210 pounds who'll do a little bit of everything in the offense and on special teams. In an absolute emergency he can step in at quarterback where he threw for 1,003 yards and ten touchdowns last year for Northeast CC. 
- Fullback Seth Michaelson, Jr.
The 240-pound former walk-on is a bigger fullback option then Jason Cook with enough strength to grow into a decent blocker. He hasn't seen any time over his first two years and won't get the ball except in blowouts.

This will be a big, big problem for a while with absolutely nothing to rely on from the wideouts. Of the four top wide receivers listed on the depth chart, there aren't any catches. Early on it'll be up to converted quarterback Robert Lane and Robert Hough to make the most plays at tight end until all the young prospects can figure out what they're doing. True freshman Marshay Green and sophomore Burnell Wallace a light, speedy targets who'll have to make plays when they get the ball on the move.
The key to the unit: The young receivers have to make big plays to make up for their almost certain lack of consistency. A number one target has to emerge right away.
Receiver Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- Marshay Green, Fr.
Originally a running back and kick returner, the 5-10, 170-pound true freshman was moved to receiver right away this spring getting the starting flanker job. He's extremely raw and way too wiry, but he's very, very quick and needs to quickly grow into a deep threat.

- Burnell Wallace, Soph.
Speedy enough to grow into a to deep threat, Wallace can play either receiver spot and should see time as a kick returner. The former Oregon State Beaver needs to become a number one target right off the bat and has to prove he's tough enough to make big plays across the middle.

- Tight end Robert Lane, Jr. - 9-22, 79 yds, 41%, 4 INT, 17 catches, 213 yds, 1 TD
Lane isn't just the team's leading returning receiver, he's also the team's top returning passer. He has also seen time at fullback with the toughness to be a top blocker and the hands to be an emerging top target. The Ole Miss passing game is likely to be vertically challenged, so the emergence of Lane as Brent Schaeffer's most trusted target will be a big step for the offense until the young receivers figure out the offense.

Top Backups
- Michael Hicks, RFr.
At 6-3 and 215 pounds, Hicks is a much bigger target on the outside than Marshay Green with big-time upside after seeing practice time last year at quarterback and safety. He'll likely see the most time in three receiver sets and should use his size and strength on big third down plays.
- Carlos Suggs, Jr.
A bit limited in spring ball with a groin injury, the 6-5, 200-pound junior needs to come back and be a key reserve behind Burnell Wallace at split end. He needs to add more bulk to his frame with room to add at least another ten pounds of muscle and he has to prove he can be reliable enough to step into the starting role if needed.
- Tight end Robert Hough, Jr. - 7 catches, 72 yds, 10.3 ypc
Hough saw plenty of action last season seeing time in every game and turning into a decent receiver. He's not the most physical blocker at 220 pounds, but he's a polished route runner with good hands.

Offensive Linemen
Ole Miss was horrible up front last season getting next to no production against the run and allowing 27 sacks. With the upgrade in talent in the backfield, including a more mobile quarterback in Brent Schaeffer, the line doesn't have to be a killer; it just has to be consistent. The addition of longtime Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe is a major plus to get everyone playing at a higher level, and there are some talented players to work with like tackle Michael Oher and guard Maurice Miller, if he gets into shape this summer. 
The key to the unit: Playing together. The starting five was hardly dominant in spring ball, but it needs time to get used to playing in their current positions after some movement this off-season. Settling on a starting five and avoiding injury will be vital for summer ball and through the first few games..
Offensive Line Rating: 6.5

Projected Starters
- OT Michael Oher, Soph.
The 331-pound sophomore got his feet wet as a true freshman at guard and now moves outside to tackle. One of the team's top recruits last year has the most raw talent of the Rebel linemen with tremendous pass blocking ability and emerging strength in the running game. He'll be an All-SEC performer sooner than later.
- OG Andrew Wicker, Sr.
Wicker comes back to his starting spot at left guard where he was decent, but not anything special. The 6-5, 280-pound senior has the versatility to play either center or guard and it tough on the inside. His development over the summer will be key; he has to get stronger.
- C Thomas Eckers, Jr.
While he won the starting job at center this spring, he still has to prove he can hang on to it this summer. Groomed as a guard, he appears to be a natural in the middle as a strong run blocker and decent quarterback for the line.
- OG Maurice Miller, Soph.
One of the line's biggest players at 6-3 and 320 pounds, Miller has All-SEC caliber talent if he gets in better shape and becomes a bit quicker. He's still fighting to hang on to the right guard he won this spring, and he'll only stick if he comes back later this summer at around 305.
- OT Darryl Harris, Jr.
Last year's starting center moves to the outside to take over the starting spot at right tackle after being tried out at guard to start spring ball. He's an athletic 6-3 and 285 pounds and should grow into a top pass protector once he figures out what he's doing..

Top Backups
- OG James McCoy, Sr.
If Maurice Miller is the starter at right guard coming out of spring ball, then McCoy is starter 1A. He's a 6-3 and 312 pounds and a strong run blocker. Now he has to get in better shape and become more consistent.
- C Corey Actis, Jr.
The JUCO transfer needs a lot of work, but he's an athletic 6-5 and 295 pounds and is getting plenty of practice experience. He could end up starting if he cranks up the motor a bit and if Thomas Eckers ends up seeing time at guard.
- OT Marcus Cohen, Jr.
An emerging run blocker on the right side, the 290-pound junior is good enough to end up being the top reserve on both sides. He saw a little bit of time last season behind Tre Stallings with enough experience to step in here and there without much of a drop-off.
- OL John Jolly, Fr.
Back after originally signing with the Rebels in 2005, the 340-pound Jolly is a top prospect for both sides of the line. He has as much talent as anyone on the offensive side, but he has to get in D-I shape and has prove that his quickness can translate right away at an SEC level.

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