2010 Ole Miss Preview
Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe
Ole Miss DT Jerrell Powe
Posted May 17, 2010

There might be some major replacements needed on both sides of the ball, and the expectations might not be nearly as high as they were last year, but Ole Miss has plenty of talent, led by DT Jerrell Powe, and should be dangerous again. Check out the 2010 CFN Ole Miss Preview.

Ole Miss Rebels

Preview 2010

- 2010 Ole Miss Preview | 2010 Ole Miss Offense
- 2010 Ole Miss Defense | 2010 Ole Miss Depth Chart
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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Houston Nutt
3rd year: 18-8
18th year: 129-78
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 20, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 27
Ten Best Ole Miss Players
1. DE Kentrell Lockett, Sr.
2. DT Jerrell Powe, Sr.
3. QB Jeremiah Masoli, Sr.*
4. RB Brandon Bolden, Jr.
5. OT Bobby Massie, Soph.
6. WR/KR Jesse Grandy, Soph.
7. SS Johnny Brown, Sr.
8. WR Markeith Summers, Sr.
9. OT Bradley Sowell, Jr.
10. LB Allen Walker, Sr.
*Assuming he's eligible
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Jacksonville St
Sept. 11 at Tulane
Sept. 18 Vanderbilt
Sept. 25 Fresno State
Oct. 2 Kentucky
Oct. 16 at Alabama
Oct. 23 at Arkansas
Oct. 30 Auburn
Nov. 6 Louisiana
Nov. 13 at Tennessee
Nov. 20 at LSU
Nov. 27 Miss State

By almost any reasonable standards, 2009 was a major success.

Oh sure, many were predicting a BCS season after a breakout 2008 campaign, and yeah, the schedule was a dream with all the big boys coming to Oxford and the toughest road games at South Carolina and Auburn (both losses), but when all the dust settled, going 9-4 with a Cotton Bowl win should've been enough to be happy about considering the supposed franchise quarterback couldn't stop giving the ball to the other team, the turnover margin was a killer, and the offense struggled too much down the stretch. Three of the four losses were on the road in SEC play, and the fourth was to Alabama.

But for all the positives, getting blown out by the rival, Mississippi State, and QB Jevan Snead's failings made 2009 a slight disappointment. It was a good year for an Ole Miss program that was sputtering and coughing just a few seasons ago, but now it's rebuilding time and it's up to head coach Houston Nutt to show that he can get the job done without Ed Orgeron's players to count on.

Nutt will be relying on a slew of his recruits from the last few seasons to make up most of the depth and to fill in several key holes, but there are still enough great players left over from the old regime to ease in the transition. Orgeron was canned with a stocked cupboard, Nutt took advantage, and now it's time to keep the momentum going. The team is just good enough to come up with another nice season and be even more dangerous against the big boys.

It all starts on defense with a line that should be among the most aggressive and disruptive in college football. DT Jerrell Powe and DE Kentrell Lockett are tremendous, and they have a very quick, very solid linebacking corps behind them to provide the needed clean up. There are holes to fill in the secondary, but there are only a few teams on the schedule that should be able to throw the forward pass with any consistency; the defense will keep the Rebels in games.

The offensive interior will need a little time to jell with three new starters to help out veteran tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie, but if the line is merely adequate, there could be a slew of home runs with a receiving corps loaded with speed and quickness and a backfield that should have a three-headed monster at running back with Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis, and Rodney Scott all able to carry the load.

Even with all the positives, this is still going to be a transitional year and 9-4 would a success. Perceptions and expectations might have changed from 365 days ago, but last year's team struggled at times and finished with a fine result, and this year's team could turn out to be even better with some time and some seasoning and have just as good a final record.

What to watch for on offense: Even more explosion. How can a team lose a running back like Dexter McCluster and a first-team All-SEC receiver like Shay Hodge and be more dangerous? While the Rebels don't have a burner like McCluster, the three main backs in the rotation, Bolden, Davis, and Scott, can all move and can all crank out big runs with a little bit of room. Throw in the Wild Rebel formation and the top options for the spot, and Ole Miss should average around five yards per carry (after averaging 4.7 yards per pop last year). At receiver, Jesse Grandy and Lionel Breaux are among the fastest players in America, while Markeith Summers averaged 23.2 yards per catch last seasons and Ja-Mes Logan can move.

What to watch for on defense: The corner situation. The front seven is set with NFL talent across the board on the line and good veterans at linebacker, but pass defense was an issue two years ago and it could be a problem again if former UCLA running back Jeremy McGee and junior Marcus Temple don't shine at corner. There are options with Charles Sawyer and Ryan Campbell two good-looking prospects, and there will be help from the pass rush, but the secondary has to keep the big plays to a minimum and it has to turn on the production on the road against Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU.

The team will be far better if … it stops giving the ball away. Snead threw 20 interceptions last year and the team turned it over 31 times. The five turnovers against Alabama never let the Rebels have a chance, while four turnovers against Mississippi State didn't help when the run defense was getting steamrolled over. The defense is too aggressive and too good to not do its part to take the ball away, and unlike last year when the team was loaded with veterans, this year's team needs to win the turnover battle in all the big games.

The schedule: Ole Miss has the ultimate tale of two seasons. The first half is a joke with four relatively easy home games and a road trip to Tulane, and then it's payback time for getting all the big SEC games at home last year. After a week off to catch their breath the Rebels get this fun ride to go on: At Alabama, at Arkansas, Auburn, a scrimmage against Louisiana-Lafayette, at Tennessee, at LSU. And, of course, there's the always-tough Egg Bowl rivalry date against Mississippi State to close things out. There's no Florida from the East to deal with, and it doesn't get much easier than getting Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Mississippi State at home, but four SEC road games in a six-week span will test the team's stamina and heart.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Brandon Bolden. There are several potential offensive players good enough to explode this year including WR Jesse Grandy, OT Bobby Massie, and backs Enrique Davis and Rodney Scott, but it's Bolden who has the best shot of taking over the lead-runner role and be the workhorse of the attack until the quarterback situation is settled. He's in better shape, quicker, and should be in the hunt for a 1,000-yard season if the other backs don't take away too many carries.

Best defensive player: Senior DE Kentrell Lockett. But if you want to argue for NT Jerrell Powe, there's no counter. The 254-pound Lockett came up with five sacks and ten tackles for loss as the team's most consistent end. While he only came up with one sack in the final nine games, he was a regular in the backfield and showed the potential to be an All-America playmaker in his final year.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Nathan Stanley or senior Jeremiah Masoli. Even if Jevan Snead had returned, he wasn't a lock to get his starting job back. The big, strong Stanley has tremendous upside with a live arm and great strength, but he's just a sophomore and he hasn't been through the SEC wars yet. On the flip side, Masoli is a former Pac 10 all-star who could step in right away and provide a star presence for the offense. The team will have five winnable games to deal with before having to go to Alabama, so the quarterback situation needs to be settled early on. The Wild Rebel offense will still be used from time to time with speedy receiver Jesse Grandy the likely quarterback to fill the role. If the quarterback play is a plus, Ole Miss suddenly becomes a good sleeper to watch out for in the West.

The season will be a success if … The Rebels win nine games. They should be favored in every game but the four SEC road battles (Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU), and they should win one of those and clunk in one of the games they should win (like at home against Auburn or possibly against Kentucky). Throw in a bowl win, and another 9-4 season for a team that needs to make so many replacements wouldn't be bad.

Key game: Oct. 23 at Arkansas. The game the week before against Alabama will get all the hype and attention if the Rebels start out the season at 5-0 and have a bye week before facing the defending national champions, but if that's a loss (which it most likely will be), then the Arkansas battle will become a big part of the West's final pecking order. With Auburn and LSU still to deal with, it's asking a lot to be perfect the rest of the way after a 2-2 conference start. A win keeps a New Year's Day bowl front and center in the hopes, but a loss means it might be time to scramble.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Ole Miss 34 for 237 yards – Opponents 14 for 92 yards
- First Quarter Scoring: Ole Miss 81 – Opponents 27
- Third Down Conversions: Ole Miss 64-of-158 (41%) – Opponents 55-of-179 (31%)

- 2010 Ole Miss Preview | 2010 Ole Miss Offense
- 2010 Ole Miss Defense | 2010 Ole Miss Depth Chart
- Ole Miss Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006