#24 Mississippi Football 2013 Preview

Ole Miss Rebels

Overall Rank: #24
#7 SEC

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Following a surprising seven win season and a superb recruiting class, expectations at Ole Miss are very high. Perhaps they are a little too high. Coach Hugh Freeze has done an amazing job, on all fronts, during his one season with the Rebels, yet the rebuilding process is still early. Most of that great recruiting class is not going to make a huge impact right away, although some will. For now the talent level and depth across the board is not on par with the top teams in the SEC. And that does not just mean Alabama.

2012 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2012 Bowl: BBVA Compass Bowl vs. Pittsburgh (W 38-17)
Coach: Hugh Freeze (7-6 at Ole Miss, 37-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Werner, Matt Luke
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Wommack, Jason Jones

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jeff Scott, RB, 846 yards
Passing: Bo Wallace, QB, 2,994 yards
Receiving: Donte Moncrief, WR, 979 yards
Tackles: Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, 82
Sacks: C.J. Johnson, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, 3; Senquez Golson, CB, 3; Dehendret Collins, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Vince Sanders, WR Ja-Mes Logan, C Evan Swindall, OL Aaron Morris, S Cody Prewitt, LB Mike Marry, CB Charles Sawyer, DT Issac Gross, S Trae Elston

Key Losses: RB Randell Mackey, TE Jamal Mosley, OL A.J. Hawkins, K Bryson Rose

The Ole Miss offense lacks depth, but there is a wealth of talent. Quarterback Bo Wallace passed for nearly 3,000 yards and totaled 30 touchdowns, both passing and rushing. Coach Freeze may run four wideouts more often in 2013 and that is not going to be a problem with Donte Moncrief, Vince Sanders and Ja-Mes Logan back. Moncrief caught a team high 66 passes for 979 yards and ten touchdowns. Sanders and Logan both proved to be reliable targets and Laquon Treadwell, one of those great incoming freshmen, could work his way into the fourth receiver spot. Jeff Scott is expected to lead the Rebels on the ground for the third straight season. Last season he totaled 846 yards and six scores. At 5-7 and 170 pounds Scott can have a hard time picking up the tough yards. There is not much of anybody behind Scott, but it would be helpful to find a power back that Mississippi can rely on when they need a yard or two. But they can rely on the offensive line to pick up those yards. Guard Aaron Morris is a great talent and Evan Swindall, Emmanuel McCray and Pierce Burton have a much needed year of experience under their belt.

The Rebels defense was much improved, yet there is still plenty of room for improvement. The unit as a whole ranked ninth in the conference in total defense. The team did rank second in sacks, but they really did not have a top pass rusher. That may change this season with top recruit Robert Nkemdiche. He is a beast and will spend a lot of time in the opposing backfield. With help from players like C.J. Johnson, the Rebels will get to the quarterback. Denzel Nkemdiche is the star of the linebackers. He led the team with 82 tackles and three interceptions as a freshman and will emerge as more of a leader in 2013. Mike Marry has plenty of experience and will again be a steadying force for the defense. The five man secondary returns three starters led by corner Charles Sawyer, safety Cody Prewitt and rover Trae Elston. Elston is coming off of a great freshman campaign and could take a huge step up in production.

The Bottom Line:
The defense returns a lot of talent but, like the offense, it is the depth that could be a concern. Coach Freeze has done great things since taking over the team, yet these things take time. A great recruiting class is the place to start and that should have the fan base excited. However, that only provides potential, and young potential at that. In a couple years that group needs to prove it on the field. For now, navigating through another brutal schedule and reaching a bowl game should be the realistic goal.

Projected Bowl: Gator Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 173.85 (49th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 249.92 (49, 5)
Total Offense: 423.77 (46, 5)
Scoring Offense: 31.46 (47, 6)
Rushing Defense: 129.31 (25, 6)
Pass Defense: 246.54 (80, 11)
Total Defense: 375.85 (46, 7)
Scoring Defense: 27.62 (60, 9)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (63, 9)
Sacks: 2.92 (11, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.62 (97, 11)

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#1 Robert Nkemdiche
#3 Laremy Tunsil
#26 Laquon Treadwell
#65 Tony Conner
#102 Kailo Moore
#175 Austin Golson
#211 Ryan Buchanan
#236 Mark Dodson


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