Free Jerrell. Seriously...How bout an "A" for effort?
Why write a spring preview of 2007's worst team in the SEC when everything has already been said? As you will notice, Ole Miss is going to see a few more changes than just the Largest HD Jumbo-tron in the SEC.*
The Rebs will be sportin' a new coaching staff, a new Parade All-American quarterback, a new "5-star" running back, and maybe, maybe even an on-the-field, not just stirring the Gatorade, but playing actual SEC football, JERRELL EFFING POWE.
That's right. Jerrell is 21 and about to ostensibly rock the SEC True Freshman world. No, he didn't just return from a Mormon mission to Djibouti or a tour in Iraq...He was just waitin' out the clearly doomed Ed Orgeron era, all-the-while learning his ABCs and shit. (Seriously though, big time, honest rumors say Powe's in like Flynn. All 330 pounds of him)
So, all things considered, what are the experts** saying about Houston's Rebs?
First, the only legitimate expert in my book: Phil Steele
Two seasons ago, I remember my damn near outrage and disgust as Phil Steele attempted to justify Arkansas in his preseason Top 15 after two consecutive losing seasons. Turns out, the hawgs managed 10 straight wins, 7-1 in the SEC and a spot in Atlanta representing The West. That's because Phil effing Steele's forgot more college football than the average fan (that includes the writers at Athlon and Lindy's) ever damn knew. Turns out Phil's a big believer in upperclassman leadership and returning starters, and The 2006 Razorbacks had them in spades.
As for Ole Miss 2008, Steele is slightly optimistic:
- 18 Returning Starters
- Overall, #37 in The Nation (compared to the no-research retards at Athlon's #69)
- 6th in the SEC as a whole (a vast improvement over 12th)
- Top 10 "Most Improved" Nationally
- 15th Best OL Nationally
- 20th Best DL Nationally (that's without The Powe)
- Predicted Music City Bowl
...And one that blows me away - Enrique Davis - (True Freshman RB) - 2nd Team All-SEC
Ok, enough with the magazine pushers. What is Vegas [covers.com] saying about Ole Miss' 2008 offering?
"The Ole Miss Rebels are easy to overlook among the titans of the SEC, but with the arrival of Houston Nutt as the new head coach in Oxford, there is a legitimate reason to believe that this team could get a lot better very soon...Hmmm...Don't pop a broner just yet. So we've heard from the Sin City Impartials, but what does a semi-informed Ole Miss homer have to say?
...Snead has already been selected SEC Newcomer of the Year by Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook (for whatever that's worth) and he's got all the tools - a strong arm and good mobility out of the pocket - to become a standout in a league full of top-notch ballplayers.
And Snead should be fairly well protected behind an offensive line anchored by senior left tackle Michael Oher, who is predicted to be one of the first lineman taken in next year's NFL draft...
...One of the biggest improvements comes in the form of a five-star running back recruit who was courted by almost every SEC coach, but chose to follow Nutt to Oxford. Enrique Davis broke a verbal commitment with Auburn to go to Ole Miss and at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, the kid has the size and the blazing speed to become the next Darren McFadden.
And just to keep defenses on their toes, Nutt will have a nice secondary option in the backfield with sophomore tailback Cordera Eason who has thoroughly impressed his new coaches this spring....
...And don't worry about the adjustment period with this team. Nutt is capable of making an immediate improvement when he takes over a program. In his first year at the helm at Arkansas in 1998, the Razorbacks were picked to finish last in the SEC West but they ran to a 9-3 record and an appearance in the Citrus Bowl.
So consider this a gift from Covers.com to you, well in advance of the football season. Keep an eye on Ole Miss pointspreads this year because there's sure to be some great chances to capitalize on this team on the rise."
These bits of tid come to us via... "One of my good friends is a manager on the team and has been since last season. Last season, he told me we'd be lucky to win 4 games. He was pretty close. So the fact that he's optimistic makes me very optimistic. This is a C&P of our convo from Facebook."
"QB: Jevan Snead- top 5 SEC qb, top 3 in my opinion... Has all the tools to win big, and has a chip on his shoulder to prove himself... Was ranked top qb with Tebow, and Stafford in high school, but now gets his chance to prove himself... Freshman Nathan Stanley will be next in line and he has potential, but we are really thin here.[nafoom.com]
RB: Enrique Davis looks like a greek god working out, but i've yet to see him in action. If he is good as advertised, he will be a top SEC rb...Cordera is good, but i dont know if he is capable of being a top SEC rb...A freshman to look out for is Brandon Bolden...looks really impressive for a freshman
WR: Probably best overall in the SEC as a unit. We are returning everyone here. McCluster will have a break out year if he can stay healthy...The coaches love him...Hodge is a beast, and Wallace is the fastest WR in the SEC.
OL: Has huge potential but really has to improve from the spring. Oher coming back was huge, and really we have some big veterans that should make a good steady SEC OL...But improvement is needed
DL: Possibly could be best in Nation and SEC... Hardy, P.Jerry, Powe, Tillman, Lockett, Laurent, new juco Emanuel Stephens should anchor it down very well... Still no final word on Powe but he should be good... I mean he goes to school and works out just like everyone else...If Powe gets in, they will be scary good, I mean him and peria jerry on the inside will dominate and pull many double teams leaving hardy to fly on the outside.
LB: The worst unit besides qb of last year but really should improve a lot. Ashlee Palmer has already proven he is a top SEC lb and with a healthy Cornell in the middle, and the addition of Patrick Trahan (auburns best lb his freshman year, went to NWCC) they should be a solid starting unit...Alen Walker, Tony Fein will be very good back ups.
DB: easily our weakest unit.. Saftey will be ok with Jamarca and Johny Brown, but corner was weak during the spring... but with moving Marshay to corner, he worked really hard and actually really looked good... i see marshay starting and C. Vaughn and Mouzon battling for the other spot
-Jevan Snead is by far the best qb i've ever witnessed in person [not saying a whole lot for a guy who's been at OM for two seasons]. He has a strong arm, quick, and really smart.... He has to adjust to Nutt's and Austin's offense because he has always run the spread, but he is smart enough and good enough to do it. If Snead goes down, all bets are off, cuz that would be a disaster.
-The Wake Forrest game is the deciding factor between winning 6 games and 9 games in my opinion. I am really optomistic this year, probably a little to much but oh well. If we beat wake, that will probably put us 4-0 rolling into Florida, and Jevan hates Tebow [hmmmm...very interesting indeed] and he has this game circled...
-I really see us probably going 8-4 or 9-3 with losses to florida(away), alabama(away), lsu(away), and possibly auburn(home)
-If we lose to wake or if Jevan gets hurt throw all of this away."
So, I would dare say, we've got all the important bases covered. Media, Vegas and over-zealous, homerific fans. Shit, even opposing fans (yes, even Tiders) are picking Ole Miss to be "The Dark Horse" or the "Surpise Team" in the SEC. There in lies a big problem.
Ole Miss could have a top 15 caliber season, go 9-3 and still end up 3rd in the division, much less the conference as a whole. Of course, Ole Miss fans would eat that up, but to win this division, you need world class talent, above-average coaching and luck...year-in and year-out.
Who the hell knows what the fall will hold for the Ole Miss faithful, but it's nice to see something of a light at the end of the tunnel. Houston Nutt, Jevan Snead, and Enrique Davis have at least the next three seasons to do some exiting shit and properly light up that expensive-assed scoreboard.
After 40 years in a desegregationist desert, can Rev. Nutt lead Ole Miss to The Promise Land/ATL?
*Largest True HD board until Mississippi State finishes theirs video board mid-season...Those one-upping cock-bastards
**Expert is usually defined as somebody with more readership than I - Seriously though, Phil Steele is about as "expert" as it gets in CFB