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2008 CFN Ole Miss Preview
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Ole Miss DE Greg Hardy
Posted May 2, 2008

Ole Miss has been stocking the shelves with decent talent for the last few years with nothing to show for it. Now with Houston Nutt taking over, and with a revamped offense and a decent D, led by pass rushing terror Greg Hardy, the Rebels could make a quick turnaround. Check out the CFN Ole Miss Preview.

Ole Miss Rebels

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Ole Miss Preview | 2008 Ole Miss Offense
- 2008 Ole Miss Defense | 2008 Ole Miss Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Ole Miss Preview | 2006 CFN Ole Miss Preview 

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Ole Miss won’t win the SEC title any time soon, but all the pieces are there to be a big thorn in everyone’s side.

It's not like former head coach Ed Orgeron was kicked out with an empty cupboard. He did a decent job of bringing in some good talents at key spots, and new head man Houston Nutt will benefit as he gets to mold a veteran team that never quite came together in any one way under Orgeron. How fast can the turnaround come, and even more importantly, can it come?

Head coach: Houston Nutt
1st year
16th year overall: 111-70
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 23, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Ole Miss Players
1. OT Michael Oher, Jr.
2. DE Greg Hardy, Jr.
3. LB Ashlee Palmer, Sr.
4. SS Jamarca Sanford, Sr.
5. DT Peria Jerry, Sr.
6. QB Jevan Snead, So.
7. WR Mike Wallace, Sr.
8. WR Dexter McCluster, Jr.
9. OT John Jerry, Jr.
10. RB Enrique Davis, Fr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Memphis
Sept. 6 at Wake Forest
Sept. 13 Samford
Sept. 20 Vanderbilt
Sept. 27 at Florida
Oct. 4 South Carolina
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE 
Oct. 18 at Alabama
Oct. 25 at Arkansas
Nov. 1 Auburn
Nov. 15 UL Monroe
Nov. 22 at LSU
Nov. 28 Mississippi State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 3-9

Sept. 1 at Memphis W 23-21
Sept. 8 Missouri L 38-25
Sept. 15 at Vanderbilt L 31-17
Sept. 22 Florida L 30-24
Sept. 29 at Georgia L 45-17
Oct. 6
Louisiana Tech W 24-0
Oct. 13 Alabama L 27-24
Oct. 20 Arkansas L 44-8
Oct. 27 at Auburn L 17-3
Nov. 3
NW State W 38-31
Nov. 17 LSU L 41-24
Nov. 24
at Miss St L 17-14

All SEC fans have a die-hard attitude when it comes to their teams, but for an Ole Miss program that kicked out David Cutcliffe after one down year, and nipped the Orgeron era in the bud after failing to come close to turning the corner, it'll be interesting to see how much time and patience there will now be. After all, 47 lettermen and 17 starters are back from a team that lost to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi State by a total of 12 points.

There’s just enough talent across the board to shoot for a bowl game. Greg Hardy will be one of the nation's premier pass rushers, as long as his head is screwed on straight, and the star of a defense loaded with experience. OT Michael Oher's decision to return for one more year gives Nutt a strong O line to work around, and former Texas Longhorn Jevan Snead is the quarterback the program has been waiting for since Eli Manning was under center. 

There needs to be more pop on offense and the defense has to be stingier in key moments, but Nutt has seen it all in the SEC and has had teams with less talent than this one come through with a big season. It shouldn't take too much tweaking to get better in a hurry, but there is work to be done. The team is hardly a finished product coming out of spring ball.

What to watch for on offense: Improvement in the passing game. Snead appears to be the real deal, and he has a good group of receivers just waiting to break out. Shay Hodge, Mike Wallace, and Dexter McCluster have the experience and have the speed to form one of the SEC's better unsung corps. Now they have a consistent passer to get them the ball.

What to watch for on defense: Cornerback. Linebacker is a bit of a concern and the line needs to start playing up to its talent level, but the big issue is at corner. Needing immediate help, Nutt brought over receiver Marshay Green and running back Jeremy McGee to combine at one corner spot. While Green appears to be a natural, this will still be an issue until he, along with Cassius Vaughn or Dustin Mouzon on the other side, can prove they can handle the job.

The team will be far better if … the team can score. The defense had its issues, but it's not like it got a ton of help from the offense. Take out the 38 point day against Northwestern State, and the Rebels
averaged a mere 18 points per game and didn't score more than 25 against any FBS team. Moving the ball shouldn't be as much of a problem with a strong group of skill players working behind a veteran line, but the team has to start potting more points on the board. The Rebels aren't good enough defensively to hope for low scoring wins.

The Schedule: Nutt could come up with an instant turnaround if he can get his Rebels to upset Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. With games against Memphis, Samford and Vanderbilt before dealing with a road trip to Florida. Overall the schedule isn't all that bad. If the Rebels are going to play the Gators and LSU, those game might as well be on the road. With South Carolina, Auburn and Mississippi State coming to Oxford, the chances will be there to make some big statements. With only five road games, this could be the year the Rebels turn into an SEC factor again.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Michael Oher. The top recruit of a few years ago appeared to be all set to be off to the NFL, but he chose to come back for his senior season and now should be one of the nation's premier all-around blockers. While he has the size, the quickness, and the tools, he has to use his senior year to become a dominant anchor who can shine each week against the top SEC speed rushers.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Greg Hardy. The SEC's breakout pass rusher is a one-man wrecking crew when he gets on a roll, but now the spotlight is on. Hardy is expected to be an All-American and is expected to be a regular in the backfield game in and game out. His presence alone will allow everyone else on the line to shine.

Key player to a successful season: Snead. The Rebels are putting all their eggs in one basket. Backup Billy Tapp has potential, but if Snead's not under center, the offense will struggle against any defense with a pulse. Snead has a trigger-quick release and is tough in the pocket, but he has to show in game action that he can make everyone around him better. This is his offense for the next three years, and it will soon be his team.

The season will be a success if ... Ole Miss gets to a bowl game. Nutt knows what he's doing, and with Snead under center, the veteran team is far better than it ever was under Orgeron. The schedule is just manageable enough to get to six wins, but there can't be any slip ups and there will have to be at least one big upset. This team, if everything comes together right away at corner and in the passing game, can get a 13th game.

Key game: Oct. 4 vs. South Carolina. The Rebels won't be good enough to win at Florida the week before, and with road trips to Alabama and Arkansas to follow, this is a must-win over the Gamecocks. South Carolina will have the better team, but Ole Miss has to take advantage of the home date and make a statement in SEC play and come up with its first win over a non-Vandy/Kentucky team from the East for the first time since the 31-28 win over the Gamecocks in 2004.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Fourth quarter scoring: Opponents 139 – Ole Miss 49
- Rushing touchdowns: Opponents 25 – Ole Miss 8
- Interceptions thrown: Ole Miss 20 – Opponents 8