#24 Ole Miss Football 2021 Preview

Ole Miss Rebels
Overall Rank: #24
#6 SEC
 Ole Miss Logo
Coach Lane Kiffin took over the Ole Miss program after a few successful seasons at Florida Atlantic. His debut campaign ended with a respectable 5-5 record and a nice win over Indiana in the Outback Bowl. Year two needs to be more consistent, but the Rebels have already shown that they can score a ton of points.
2020 Record: 5-5, 4-5
2020 Bowl: Outback Bowl vs. Indiana (W 26-20)
Coach: Lane Kiffin (5-5 at Ole Miss, 66-39 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Lebby
Defensive Coordinator: D.J. Durkin, Chris Partridge
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jerrion Ealy, RB, 745 yards
Passing: Matt Corral, QB, 3,337 yards
Receiving: Dontario Drummond, WR, 417 yards
Tackles: Keidron Smith, DB, 64       
Sacks: Sam Williams, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: AJ Finley, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Snoop Conner, WR Jonathan Mingo, WR Braylon Sanders, LB Lakia Henry, LB MoMo Sanogo, DB Jalen Jordan
Key Losses: WR Elijah Moore, WR Kenny Yeboah, LB Jacquez Jones, DL Ryder Anderson
Coach Kiffin took a great offense and made it amazing. The Rebels ranked third in the nation in total offense, tallying 555.5 yards per game. Mat Corral came into his own in 2020, throwing for 3,337 yards and 29 touchdowns. He should be even more consistent in 2021. Losing Elijah Moore and Kenny Yeboah is not ideal, but Dontario Drummond and Braylon Sanders should be able to pick up the lost production at wide receiver. Corral does not just do damage with his arm, he also rushed for 506 yards and four touchdowns. The aerial assault leads to lots of room for running backs Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner to operate. Ealy led the Rebels with 745 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, while Conner added 421 yards and eight trips to the end zone.
The defense allowed 38.3 points per game. The pass defense was especially atrocious. However, the season ended on a high note for the defense when they allowed just 20 points against a pretty good Indiana offense. Most of that group is returning, for better or worse. The front line needs to get to the quarterback. There is proven talent at tackle, but somebody needs to step up on the ends. Sam Williams played at outside linebacker and recorded a team high 4.0 sacks in 2020 and Cedric Johnson added 3.0. There is some hope for the pass rush from the linebackers, but they cannot do it all. The secondary would benefit greatly from a pass rush and this is now an experienced group. Keidron Smith tallied 64 tackles and broke up six passes and AJ Finley accounted for half of Mississippi’s six interceptions.
The Bottom Line:
This is a team that will score a ton of points. Of course, that is only half the battle. Ole Miss will happily be involved in a shootout, but the defense needs to step up and make a couple big stops. That could be the difference between a great 2021 season and another .500 campaign.
Projected Bowl:  Outback Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 210.6 (26th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 344.9 (7, 3)
Total Offense: 555.5 (3, 1)
Scoring Offense: 39.2 (14, 3)
Rushing Defense: 206.9 (101, 14)
Pass Defense: 312.1 (125, 13)
Total Defense: 519.0 (126, 14)
Scoring Defense: 38.3 (117, 14)
Turnover Margin: -0.50 (97, 10)
Sacks: 1.60 (98, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.90 (45, 7)