#24 Mississippi Football 2014 Preview

Ole Miss Rebels

Overall Rank: #24
#7 SEC

Mississippi Team Page#24 Mississippi Football 2014 PreviewBuy Mississippi Football Tickets

This is the year Mississippi is supposed to feel the full effect of their superb recruiting classes over the last few years. Coach Hugh Freeze has talent across the board and this is a team that can compete with the best the SEC has to offer. After an 8-5 season, which included a win over LSU and Music City Bowl victory over Georgia Tech, the expectations are sky high.

2013 Record: 8-5, 3-5
2013 Bowl: Music City Bowl vs. Georgia Tech (W 25-17)
Coach: Hugh Freeze (15-11 at Ole Miss, 45-18 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Werner, Matt Luke
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Wommack

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: I’Tavius Mathers, RB, 563 yards
Passing: Bo Wallace, QB, 3,346 yards
Receiving: Laquon Treadwell, WR, 608 yards
Tackles: Serderius Bryant, LB, 78
Sacks: Issac Gross, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Cody Prewitt, S, 6

Other Key Returnees: RB Jaylen Walton, WR Vince Sanders, TE Evan Engram, OL Laremy Tunsil, LB Tony Conner, LB Denael Nkemdiche, S Trae Elston, CB Mike Hilton, CB Senquez Golson

Key Losses: RB Jeff Scott, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Ja-Mes Logan, DE Cameron Whigham, LB Mike Marry

The defense was ravaged by injuries last season, but now those young players who were forced into action have experience and are ready to contribute even if it is just in a backup role. The defensive line returns the least amount of experience, but could be the most lethal part of the Rebels defense. Sophomore defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche has been living up to his hype during the offseason and is an absolute beast in the middle of the line. There are high hopes for end C.J. Johnson as well. The junior was limited to four games a year ago, but should team up nicely with Nkemdiche. Ole Miss tallied just 20 sacks in 2013 and they should easily surpass that number. Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche is back with the team after being suspended during the spring. He will miss the season opener against Boise State, but will step back into a starting spot sooner or later. Serderius Bryant is the team’s top returning tackler and a great pass rusher from the outside. The Rebels also have high hopes for junior college transfer Christian Russell. The secondary is absolutely loaded. Cody Prewitt led the SEC with six interceptions and cornerbacks Mike Hilton, Derrick Jones and Senquez Golson have had their moments.

The offense has experience at quarterback and running back, but could be lacking in other areas. Bo Wallace enters his senior season as a three-year starter and threw for 3,346 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013. He completed nearly 65 percent of his passes and has proven to be very efficient. At running back, I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton return after combing for 1,086 yards and nine scores on the ground. Those two will once again split carries. However, the offense could take a big step back if the receivers and offensive line do not find some new faces. Laquon Treadwell is a solid possession receiver, but the rest of the pass catchers are pretty inexperienced. The Rebels do not expect that to be a problem with Vince Sanders and youngsters Quincy Adeboyejo and Markell Pack waiting in the wings. They are very talented, but still unproven. The line could hamper the entire offense in a hurry. Just two starters are back and Ole Miss will have to rely heavily on inexperienced options.

The Bottom Line:
If the talent on the offensive line turns into a cohesive unit, Ole Miss will be able to beat anybody on any given day. Consistency and health throughout the SEC slate will be the difference between another trip to the Music City Bowl and something much more impressive. As always, the SEC schedule is brutal. The Rebels do get Alabama and Auburn at home and miss out on SEC East foes South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Missouri. But in a division that includes the Crimson Tide, Auburn and LSU, finishing fourth in the pecking order is not a bad place to be.

Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 190.0 (42nd in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 283.3 (23, 3)
Total Offense: 473.3 (21, 5)
Scoring Offense: 30.0 (57, 9)
Rushing Defense: 154.9 (51, 9)
Pass Defense: 215.5 (36, 8)
Total Defense: 370.5 (38, 7)
Scoring Defense: 23.7 (37, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (56, 7)
Sacks: 1.54 (96, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (66, 11)

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#72 Rod Taylor
#128 Markell Pack
#154 C.J. Hampton


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