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Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to
breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. And hope
they can play.
Ole Miss has undergone a bit of a facelift after an unsuccessful
opening act in the Ed Orgeron era going 3-8 with only two wins over
D-I teams beating Memphis and Kentucky by a total of eight points.
Worse yet, the team got worse as the season finished up with one of
the nation's worst offenses.
Orgeron isn't exactly the type of coach who's going to wait around
for things to get better. A tireless recruiter, he was able to get a
major infusion of talent for the offense landing former Tennessee
quarterback Brent Schaeffer, former Indiana running back BenJarvus
Green-Ellis, and former Miami offensive coordinator
Dan Werner and offensive line coach
Art Kehoe. Ole Miss also has on the roster wide receiver Burnell
Wallace, who originally signed with Oregon State, and defensive
tackle Hayward Howard, who originally signed with Michigan State.
Will it all be enough to make Ole Miss good enough to come up with
its first winning season in three years? Probably not, but Orgeron
has done a great job of upgrading the overall talent level and has
several good pieces in place to put together a far more competitive
Head coach: Ed Orgeron
2nd year: 3-8
Off. 15, Def. 18, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 25
Best Ole Miss Players
1. LB Patrick Willis, Sr.
2. OT Michael Oher, Soph.
3. QB Brent Schaeffer, Jr.
4. SS Jamarca Sanford, Soph.
5. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jr.
6. CB Trumaine McBride, Sr.
7. RB Mico McSwain, Soph.
8. DE Peria Jerry, Soph.
9. LB Garry Pack, Jr.
10. DT Brandon Jenkins, Jr.
2005 Record: 3-8
at Tennessee L 27-10
Alabama L 13-10
at Auburn L 27-3
Arkansas L 28-17
LSU L 40-7
at Miss State
With Schaeffer and Green-Ellis in the backfield along with last season's
leading rusher, Mico McSwain, the running game will get off the team
bus and average more than the 73 rushing yards a game it came up with
last season. The offensive line that was so miserable last season will
be stronger with more experience led by NFL caliber tackle Michael Oher.
Defensively, the return of linebacker Patrick Willis gives Ole Miss and
All-America star to work around. The pass defense finished 14th in the
nation last season and gets three starters back along with rising corner
Nate Banks. The line has to replace all four starters, but the new
faces up front have more talent.
Of course, you don't go 3-8 without having several problems to deal with
and holes to fill. Ole Miss still plays in the SEC and isn't within ten
miles of the top teams talent-wise. The skill players, while better than
last year's group, aren't anywhere near as good as the ones at places
like LSU, Georgia, Auburn and Florida. There's absolutely no returning
experience at receiver and the overall depth is a bit thin.
It's going to take a little while before the program is close to the
hunt for division titles, so patience must be a virtue for at least
another year. Coach O will build from the lines up and has the luxury of
being able to truly promise any new recruit a chance to start right
away. For this year, expect more fight.
Schedule: The non-conference schedule isn't all that bad outside of
a road trip to Missouri. The Rebels have to go 3-0 Memphis, Wake Forest
and Northwestern State if they have any dreams of going to a bowl, and
they must take advantage of the nice SEC break playing Kentucky and
Vanderbilt from the East. Forget about any dreams of being the sleeper
team in the West with road games at Alabama, Arkansas and LSU, but
there's still a solid chance at a winning season going into the Egg Bowl
finale against Mississippi State if everything breaks right.
Sophomore OT Michael Oher. The 6-6, 330-pound left tackle has next-level
written all over him. He was one of the big recruits in Orgeron's first
season and wasn't awful starting from the second game on in his true
freshman season at right guard. Now he'll move over to left tackle where
he should be a possible early round NFL Draft pick with Art Kehoe
Senior LB Patrick Willis. Orgeron, a former coach at USC, said before
last season that Willis could've been a star on any of the recent Trojan
teams. Willis is just now starting to get more recognition from everyone
other than CFN making most preseason All-America teams, and he should be
one of the favorites for all the big defensive awards if he leads the
nation in solo tackles like he did last year.
to a successful season: Junior QB Brent Schaeffer. He saw enough
time as a freshman at Tennessee to be prepared for life in the SEC, and
he got enough work last season at the
College of the Sequoias to be ready to hit the ground
running when he shows up this fall. Already anointed the starter, Ole
Miss can't go through another year of musical quarterbacks if it wanted
to average more than 13.45 points per game.
will be a success if ... the Rebels win seven games. It'll take at least one big upset and no
slip ups against the teams its own size, but Ole Miss should be just
good enough to be able to squeak out a few more wins with a schedule
that has Memphis, at Kentucky, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Northwestern
State, and Mississippi State.
Sept, 16 at Kentucky. The Rebels beat the Wildcats 13-7 for their
final win of the year, and could use the shot in the arm of pulling off
a road win in the SEC opener. To get to a bowl game, this might be a
must-win considering it'll take a major upset to beat teams like
Georgia, Auburn and LSU.
- Kickoff returns: Opponents 16.5 yards per return - Ole Miss 15.4 yards
- Third down conversions: Opponents 74 of 168 (44%) - Ole Miss 53 of 166
- Yards per carry: Opponents 3.7 - Ole Miss 2.4
The Last Time Ole
…played in a bowl game…2003 (Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma State)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Mississippi State)
…was shutout…1998 (Arkansas)
…scored 50 points…2003 (Arkansas State)
…won a conference title…1963 (SEC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (Eli Manning)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…1998 (Deuce McAllister)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…2005 (C Chris Spencer)