2007 Ole Miss Preview - Offense
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Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: The
offense needed more out of the running game after a woeful 2005,
and it got it with BenJarvus Green-Ellis coming up with a
1,000-yard season as the workhorse for the offense. Now the
offense has to figure out how to score after averaging 15.7
points per game (up from a whopping 13.45 per game in 2005). The
passing game needs a lot of work, and the hope will be for the
young receiving corps to step up and become passable. There will
be a quarterback battle into the fall with Brent Schaeffer
needing to prove he can move the offense, or he'll be unseated
be Seth Adams, who's the more efficient passer. The massive line
should be better after years of seasoning.
Passing: Brent Schaeffer
115-244, 1,442 yds, 9 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
234 carries, 1,000 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Mike Wallace
24catches, 410 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Junior OT Michael Oher
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Cordera Eason
Best pro prospect: Oher
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Oher, 2) RB BenJarvus
Green-Ellis, 3) OG John Jerry
Strength of the offense: Running back, offensive line
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, passing game
Projected Starter: While the quarterback situation
is up for grabs, and could be a rotation throughout the year,
the coaching staff leaned a little bit towards senior Seth
Adams coming out of spring ball. While he doesn't have much
in the way of mobility, the former JUCO transfer walked-on to
the team last year, and showed off a decent arm completing 55%
of his passes for 177 yards. He's 6-4, 225 pounds, and has good
enough skills to get the Ole Miss passing game going. Finally.
Projected Top Reserves: Adams might turn out to be
the number one, but that doesn't mean senior Brent Schaeffer
will be out of the mix. The top transfer from Tennessee
started from day one last year, and while he had his moments, he
struggled to throw the forward pass completing just 47% of his
passes for 1,442 yards and nine touchdowns with ten
interceptions. While he's a great runner, he didn't use his
mobility nearly enough with just 100 yards and one touchdown. He
wasn't any more consistent in spring ball and needs to light it
up this fall to get any of the coaching staff's confidence. If
he's not running, he's not much help.
The third man in the mix will be redshirt freshman Michael
Herrick, a plucky all-around playmaker who might not be all
that big at 6-1 and 170 pounds, but he has a good arm and can
move. He won't win the starting job, but it won't be a shock if
he turns out to be the number two man on the depth chart at some
point this season, possibly in shotgun formations.
Watch Out For ... the quarterback situation to not
be settled at any point this year. Adams is an average talent,
Schaeffer will never be a solid passer, and Herrick doesn't have
any experience. All three will probably see time.
Strength: Options. Adams can throw, Schaeffer can move,
and Herrick is a baller who can do a little of everything. If
you could combine all three players into one quarterback, you'd
have a star.
Weakness: The team's best quarterback can't play this
year. Texas transfer Jevan Snead has all the tools the team
needs, but he has to sit out a season. He's the future.
Outlook: The Rebels have work to do to find a
quarterback who can save the SEC's worst passing game. The
starter doesn't have to be Peyton Manning, or even Eli, but
he'll have to be efficient, complete close to 60% of the passes,
and keep the interceptions to a minimum. That's far easier said
than done for this group. going to be another Hawaii, and it
doesn't have to be.
Projected Starters: Brent Schaeffer might have
been a disappointment, but the team's other high-profile
transfer, Indiana back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, ran for
1,000 yards and seven touchdowns as the team's main offensive
weapon. While he's not a "wow" back, he can carry the ball 20+
times and can crank out 100 yards if everything is working. At
5-11 and 225 yards, he's a tough runner with a quick burst when
he gets an opening.
At fullback, 240-pound Jason Cook is expected to do more
for the offense after getting only two carries and three
catches. Showing no ill-effects from a broken arm that cost him
most of 2005, he became a good blocker. Now he'll get more work
in the passing game.
Projected Top Reserves: Green-Ellis is the
unquestioned number one, and now there has to be more help from
the reserves. Senior Bruce Hall finished second on the
team with just 182 yards and a touchdowns, but he averaged 5.7
yards per carry.
The JUCO transfer by way of
Wake Forest and Troy came to Ole Miss as a quarterback and
showed he could be productive in garbage time. Now he has to do
more in meaningful games.
The starting tailback next year will likely be 235-pound
sophomore Cordera Eason after good spring. A pounding
back who has more overall speed and ability than Green-Ellis,
it'll be just a question of time before he takes over the number
two spot. He's not being considered for the starting job, but
that doesn't mean he can't play a big role.
Backing up Cook at fullback is 230-pound sophomore Andy
Hartmann and redshirt freshmen Derrick Davis and
Reggie Hicks. While Hartmann will be the number two blocker,
Hicks is the most versatile option able to catch the ball and
run better than the other options.
Watch Out For ... Eason. Green-Ellis fits the
cliché of a back who gets better as the game goes on, but he'll
be even more effective if Eason turns into the back he's
supposed to be. Getting the sophomore star-in-waiting 7 to 11
carries a game would be a huge boost for the offense.
Strength: Power. Having a 225-pound back in Green-Ellis
and a 235-pound runner in Eason should allow the Rebels to push
the ball between the tackles whenever they want to.
Weakness: Receiving. Don't expect the backs to do much
in the passing game. Green-Ellis caught just eight passes last
year, and despite an attempt to spread the ball around even
more, the running backs will be used to run.
Outlook: It all depends on the emergence of the
passing game and the improvements on the offensive line. If
defenses have to give just two seconds worth of thought to the
passing attack, the safeties won't be able to cheat up and
Green-Ellis will have more room. He's a talented back who's
never had any help at Indiana or Ole Miss. He's a 250-carry
caliber back, but he won't need to be with the expected
emergence of the reserves.
Projected Starters: Is Mike Wallace able to
be a number one receiver? He led the team with 24 catches for
410 yards and two touchdowns averaging 17.1 yards per catch, but
the junior might get pushed out of a starting spot if he doesn't
start producing even more. Even with his high average, he wasn't
spectacular enough and didn't show he could be a pure number one
target. He had a decent spring game catching five passes.
On the other side will likely be sophomore Dexter McCluster
after making 15 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown in just a
half a season. Banged up throughout the final six games with a
shoulder problem, among other things, he'll have to prove he can
hold up. At 5-9 and 165 pounds, that might be a problem.
The Rebels need more out of their tight ends, and that includes
6-3, 240-pound senior Robert Lane, a former quarterback
and fullback who has 286 career rushing yards and three
touchdowns, one touchdown pass (completing just 44% of his
throws), and 28 catches for 368 yards. He has too much
experience not to be a steady short-range receiver.
Projected Top Reserves: Former running back
Mico McSwain, who ran for 140 yards and a touchdown and
caught five passes for 19 yards, will be a key receiver once he
gets back after spending the off-season working on his studies.
He's a phenomenal athlete with excellent speed, and now he has
to get the ball in his hands more.
Sophomore Shay Hodge had a decent first season finishing
third on the team with 16 catches for 193 yards averaging 12.1
yards per grab. While he might never be a spectacular receiver,
he's the type of tough target who has the potential to be the
consistent receiver the passing game desperately needs.
Is Marshay Green ready to live up to his potential?
Originally considered a running back, the 5-10, 170-pound
sophomore finished second on the team with 19 catches for 174
yards and two touchdowns. He's still extremely raw, but he's
phenomenally quick and could turn into a major playmaker once
the light goes on.
On the way to beef up the corps is top JUCO transfer
A.J. Jackson, a 6-5,
210-pound speed receiver who was Brent Schaeffer's favorite
target two years ago. Considered by many to be the nation's top
JUCO wide receiver, he might find a starting spot right away
At tight end, Lane is the number one, but senior Robert Hough
is a decent receiver who'll see time in two tight end sets.
He caught eight passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, and while
he has good size at 6-4 and 230 pounds, and nice hands, he's not
much of a blocker. That's for 6-6, 260-pound junior David
Traxler, who moves over from the offensive line to provide
some sort of blocking element to the mix.
Watch Out For ... someone to emerge as a star to
build around. The problem? There's no clue who that'll be. Even
after a year of work, this is still a raw group that could be
far better as the season goes on.
Strength: Veterans. Of the 134 catches made last year,
130 were made by returning players. There are enough options and
overall depth to find a few targets to improve the sorry passing
Weakness: Catching the football. When your number one
receiver catches 24 passes for 410 yards and two touchdowns,
there's a problem. Finding consistent receivers who can find the
seams and get open is a must, but scoring will be more important
after just nine touchdown receptions.
Outlook: Were the receivers really that bad or was
the lack of overall production because of the awful quarterback
play? Both. This was a young corps that doesn't have any seniors
and still needs time to figure out what they're doing. There are
enough veterans to expect more production, but a true number one
target has to emerge and there has to be more scoring pop.
Projected Starters: 6-5, 325-pound junior left
tackle Michael Oher is about to take the turn into superstardom.
A tremendous athlete and a big-time recruit two years ago, he started
from day one. While he's been inconsistent, especially in pass
protection, he has NFL talent and the potential to be the type of
blocker the offense works around.
Including Oher, four starters are back on the line with the only open
starting spot at left guard. 6-6, 300-pound sophomore Reid Neely
will get the first look after seeing a little time as a reserve and on
special teams. He's still green, but he made a quantum leap from where
he was at last year. He'll benefit greatly from being next to Oher.
The right side is set with the return of 6-5, 360-pound sophomore
John Jerry at guard and 6-3, 350-pound junior Maurice Miller
at tackle. Neither can protect the passer, but they're physical for the
running game. Jerry had a nice spring and should emerge as a consistent
blocker, while Miller is a former guard who has to work on his overall
Returning at center is 6-5, 290-pound senior Corey Actis, a good
athlete who can play at guard if needed. The former JUCO transfer grew
into the role in the middle of the line and should be a good quarterback
now that he knows what he's doing.
Projected Top Reserves: Jerry is a good-looking
young blocker, but he'll have to fight off JUCO transfer Mark
Jean-Louis, a 6-3, 350-pound mauler who should be back to form after
suffering a bad knee injury two years ago.
Pushing Neely for time will be 6-4, 300-pound senior Darryl Harris.
A former starting center who was tried out at tackle and now will spend
most of his time at guard. He's a decent athlete with enough experience
to be a major help off the bench.
6-2, 300-pound senior Thomas Eckers appeared ready to be a
starter going into last year, but he lost the job in fall practice and
served as a backup behind Actis. He's a decent run blocker and can play
guard if needed.
Watch Out For ... the light to go on. After
building and building for the last few years, this has to be the season
the line becomes the dominant force the coaching staff envisioned it
Strength: Size. This group is HUGE. Maybe too huge. The
projected starting five averages around 325 pounds per man and could
come up with a big season for the ground game.
Weakness: Athleticism. The line is so big that coming up
with consistent pass protection against speedy SEC defenders could be a
problem. Even with a mobile quarterback like Brent Schaeffer under
center last year, the Rebels allowed 29 sacks. Expect more of the same.
Outlook: Time for all those great recruiting
classes to start kicking in. Art Kehoe, the architect of the great Miami
lines, has excellent prospects to work with, and he should do a great
job. Oher has the next-level talent to be the
anchor, while there are enough veterans to hope for more consistency,
more production in pass protection, and even more done for the running
game. The right combination needs to be found, and that's been the
problem for the last few years, but the talent is there to be better.