2007 Ole Miss Preview

Posted Jul 30, 2007

Preview 2007 Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss Rebels

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

2007 Ole Miss Offense Preview | 2007 Ole Miss Defense Preview
2007 Ole Miss Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Ole Miss Preview 

In the impatient world of college football, the old five-year rebuilding plan doesn’t work anymore. Fans want to win, and they want to win yesterday hoping for quick fixes from a coach who can come in and immediately turn a bad situation into something special. Ed Orgeron has done wonders recruiting over the last two years, but the clock is ticking in what might be an impossible situation.    

After winning ten games in 2003, Ole Miss has won just nine games against D-I teams with two against Memphis, two against Vanderbilt, and two against Mississippi State. While the Rebels have hardly been special since Eli Manning’s career was done, it hasn’t helped that the SEC has gotten better, and the schedules have turned out to be harder than expected.  

Head coach: Ed Orgeron
3rd year: 7-16
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 26, Def. 18, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Ole Miss Players
1. OT Michael Oher, Soph.
2. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sr.
3. DE Marcus Tillman, Soph.
4. SS Jamarca Sanford, Jr.
5. NT Jeremy Garrett, Sr.
6. DE Peria Jerry, Jr.
7. OG John Jerry, Soph.
8. QB Seth Adams, Sr.
9. QB Brent Schaeffer, Sr.
10. RB Cordera Eason, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

Sept. 1

at Memphis

Sept. 8


Sept. 15

at Vanderbilt

Sept. 22


Sept. 29

at Georgia

Oct. 6

Louisiana Tech

Oct. 13


Oct. 20


Oct. 27

at Auburn

Nov. 3

Northwestern St

Nov. 17


Nov. 24

at Mississippi St

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 4-8
Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Memphis W 28-25
9/9 at Missouri L 34-7
9/16 at Kentucky L 31-14
9/23 Wake Forest L 27-3
9/30 Georgia L 14-9
10/7 Vanderbilt W 17-10
10/14 at Alabama L 26-23 OT
10/21 at Arkansas L 38-3
10/28 Auburn L 23-17
11/4 NW State W 27-7
11/18 at LSU L 23-20 OT
11/25 Miss State W 20-17

All eight losses last year came to bowl-bound teams including ACC champion Wake Forest, Sugar Bowl champion LSU, and SEC West champ Arkansas. Ole Miss beat the teams it was supposed to, but there just weren’t enough of those types of games on the slate. While the 4-8 record is being held over Orgeron as evidence that the program isn’t improving, the better measure is how close he and the team came to having a special second half of the year losing to Georgia, and on the road against Alabama, Auburn and LSU by a total of 19 points. 

Near-misses don’t cut it in the SEC when Arkansas is winning the West and Kentucky is going to a bowl. After throwing too many freshmen into key situations and patching things up here and there with transfers like QB Brent Schaeffer and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, this is a veteran team with enough talent to come up with it first bowl game in four years.  

Now the team has to build on the improvements to start making its own breaks. It needs to win more of the close battles against the teams looking ahead to bigger games, and it has to start using all the decent talent to jell into a bowl-bound team. If the change doesn’t happen this season there might be another rebuilding job being done next year at this time with a new head coach.

What to watch for on offense: Improvement along the offensive line. Four starters return up front including hot-shot recruits from a few years ago, Michael Oher and John Jerry. It’s a big group that has to be far better in pass protection and needs to open up more holes for Green-Ellis and the ground game. Essentially, the line has to find one thing it can do consistently well.

What to watch for on defense: The defensive line, which struggled through its youthful mistakes over the last two seasons, has the potential to make a night-and-day improvement now that everyone is healthy. Tackles Peria Jerry and Jeremy Garrett are tremendous unsung playmakers, while Marcus Tillman has next-level ability.

The team will be far better if … the passing game isn’t a liability. After finishing last in the SEC, and 110th in the nation, in passing efficiency, these are hardly the days of Eli. Brent Schaeffer had his moments, but the former Tennessee transfer had too many problems with the passing game. Backup Seth Adams didn’t do much more to move the offense, but he was a far more effective thrower. The situation for next year is set with Texas transfer Jevan Snead all but handed the reins a year in advance, but for now, someone has to show he can lead the team to points.

The Schedule: There can’t be any complaints about the road schedule facing Memphis, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State and without two in a row. However, there are only two certain home wins (Louisiana Tech and Northwestern State) with Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and LSU all going to be planning on coming away from Oxford with a win. The Rebels have to win at least two of those tough home games to think about going bowling.

Best Offensive Player: Junior OT Michael Oher. A star recruit of a few years ago has lived up to the hype and then some making 22 straight starts and turning into a special blocker. He’s a 6-5, 325-pound rock who’ll be the one the team runs behind at left tackle. Expect All-SEC honors and fringe All-America status.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore DE Marcus Tillman. The sky’s the limit for the 260-pound sophomore. He has the strength to see time at tackle, but he’s better on the end where he showed flashes of his immense potential as a pass rusher. If he’s able to get time to develop on one side, and if the tackles start occupying more attention, he should grow into an All-SEC star.

Key player to a successful season: Junior LB Tony Fein. It’s asking way too much for anyone to be Patrick Willis, but Fein, a star JUCO transfer who made 136 tackles for Scottsdale C.C. last year, is a big, talented linebacker who should step in and be an instant impact player. He’s a 6-2, 245-pound hitting machine who won’t have any problem being the tough leader of the defense after spending over three years in Iraq.

The season will be a success if ... Ole Miss wins six games. Considering the program hasn’t had a winning season since Eli was under center (three seasons ago), coming within range of a winning season would be more than enough to signal a big step forward in the Ed Orgeron era and would lead, potentially, to a huge 2008 when the team will be loaded with veterans.

Key game: Sept. 15 at Vanderbilt. With Florida and Georgia coming up over the following two weeks, and Missouri the week before, the Rebels need to come up with a win over an improved Vanderbilt team to potentially avoid a lousy start, and to keep bowl hopes from being crushed by the end of September.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 81 – Ole Miss 34
- Third down conversions: Opponents 69-162 (43%) – Ole Miss 44-150 (29%)
- Sacks: Opponents 29 for 193 yards – 14 for 69 yards


Related Stories
2007 Ole Miss Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Ole Miss Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007
2007 Ole Miss Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 30, 2007

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