2010 Record: (4-8, 1-7 in SEC)
Head Coach: Houston Nutt (133-86 All-Time, 22-16 at Ole Miss)
Last Bowl Game: 2009 Cotton Bowl (beat Oklahoma State 21-7)
CFBZ Ole Miss Links
9/10: Southern Illinois
9/17: at Vanderbilt (2010 result: lost 28-14)
10/1: at Fresno State (2010 result: won 55-38)
10/15: Alabama (2010 result: lost 23-10)
10/22: Arkansas (2010 result: lost 38-24)
10/29: at Auburn (2010 result: lost 51-21)
11/5: at Kentucky (2010 result: won 42-35)
11/12: Louisiana Tech
11/19: LSU (2010 result: lost 43-36)
11/26: at Mississippi State (2010 result: lost 31-23)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 30.6 ppg (7th in SEC, 41st in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 207.58 yds/game (3rd in SEC, 18th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 192.3 yds/game (8th in SEC, 82nd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 399.8 yds/game (6th in SEC, 43rd in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 35.2 ppg (last in SEC, 107th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 152.83 yds/game (9th in SEC, 61st in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 246.3 yds/game (11th in SEC, 103rd in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 399.2 yds/game (11th in SEC, 81st in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: -0.50 per game (last in SEC, 88th in Nation)
Penalties: 51.1 yds/game (9th in SEC, 57th in Nation)
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: No returning QBs with statistics
Rushing: RB Brandon Bolden, Sr (163 for 976 yds, 5.9 ypc, 32 rec, 17 TD)
Receiving: WR Melvin Harris, Jr (30 rec for 408 yds, 3 TD)
Tackles: S Damien Jackson, Sr (68)
Sacks: LB D.T. Shackelford, Jr (5)*
Interceptions: CB Charles Sawyer, Soph (2)
*tore ACL in spring
Athlon Sports: None
Phil Steele: Liberty (vs Southern Miss)
Houston Nutt achieved a 9-4 record in both of his first two years as the Head Coach at Ole Miss and in the process took them to their first bowl game since 2003. In 2010, the bottom dropped out of their season pretty quickly as they lost their opener to Jacksonville State in double overtime, yes Jacksonville State. The Rebels followed this up by beating Tulane but then fell to the Commodores of Vanderbilt. After beating Kentucky to move to 3-2, Ole Miss went on to lose their next six conference games to finish 4-8. This is a big year for Nutt and the Rebels. Last year, Ole Miss came into the season thinking (as did I) that their defense would be a strength. If you looked at some of the statistics listed above you know that didn't work out quite like many thought that it would. Houston Nutt took a gamble last year by bringing on Jeremiah Masoli for one year and unfortunately for the Rebels it did not translate to wins on the football field. Once again Nutt will be turning to a new QB as Masoli has used up his eligibility and Nathan Stanley has transferred. QB is a huge question for the Rebels but the bigger question might be whether they can get the defense back on track in the toughest division in all of football. To find out more information on the 2011 Rebels we turned to the SB Nation Ole Miss blog Red Cup Rebellion.
The Ole Miss defense was supposed to be a strength last year but instead finished last in the SEC giving up 35.2 points per game. What has been done this off-season to fix that side of the football?
Truly the exact opposite of what Rebel fans expected would have taken place did; our offense was slightly above-average while our defense was abysmal.
One key this offseason to remedying the Rebel defensive woes is the return of Kentrell Lockett. Lockett, one of the SEC’s most adept pass rushers two seasons ago, tore his ACL early in 2010 and missed enough of that season – his senior season – to earn an NCAA hardship waiver to play again in 2011.
Of course, as is to be expected at Ole Miss, the return of Lockett was met with the news of DT Shackelford’s torn ACL during the spring. Shackelford is undeniably the best linebacker the Rebs have got. So we return our best defensive lineman only to lose our best linebacker. It’s unreal.
Defensive line and linebackers aside, the Rebels need the most help in a secondary which was dead last in the SEC in pass defense this past year. A handful of defensive backs, both out of high school and as junior college transfers, were recruited this offseason but to count on them to adequately defend the pass right away might be wishful thinking. Considering this, new defensive backs coach Keith Burns will be the key difference in the performance of 2010 and what’s to come in 2011.
After going 9-4 in his first two years, Houston Nutt went 4-8 last year winning only one SEC game. What does he need to do to get the ship turned back around and what is your confidence level with Nutt?
He has recruited well enough, and I feel he has assembled a slightly-better-than-decent assistant coaching staff, so the tools are in place to right this ship, but regarding both Ole Miss and Houston Nutt, nothing is possible to predict.
My confidence with Nutt is, personally, low. He simply doesn’t seem as dedicated to the job as perhaps he should be. I am a fan who is understandably jaded by losing seasons and a natural victim of a defeatist Rebel attitude, but I don’t think I’m too far off of the mark with this.
That doesn’t mean I want the guy to fail, though. I’d love to eat crow on this.
Who are some newcomers that have a chance to step up and make an impact this year?
On offense the Rebels will have one of several freshman wide receivers who will have a real opportunity to make an impact right away. Tobias Singleton, Donte Moncrief, or Vincent Sanders (He’s actually a redshirt freshman, but I suppose he could still be considered a “newcomer”) have the potential to be great SEC wideouts.
On defense, linebacker CJ Johnson is easily the most notable newcomer. He was recruited by seemingly everyone out of high school and acquired the usual bunch of all-American honors – you know, Army All-American, Parade All-American, et cetera. Considering the aforementioned injury to DT Shackelford, Johnson should have an opportunity to live up to his hype right away.
The QB picture has been an issue with Ole Miss recently. Who do you want to get the ball this fall?
I see little difference in the two front-runners in Randall Mackey and Barry Brunetti in terms of quarterbacking capabilities. I guess that Mackey has the age and experience in the Ole Miss system to earn the nod over Brunetti but that’s really the only glaring difference I can think of between the two.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
BYU, Fresno State, and Auburn. If the Rebels can begin the season with a victory against BYU – a tall task – they should have the momentum and skill to survive the easier parts of the SEC schedule. The Fresno game just looks trappy, being that it’s two time zones away, and the Auburn game is against a team breaking in loads of starters at crucial positions on both sides of the ball. If the Rebs have a chance at a marquee SEC road win, Auburn’s it.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
Gut feeling? I don’t see this year being much different than the last. We may return a lot of offensive experience and we may have recruited well over the past two seasons, but the 2011 schedule is much tougher than the 2010 schedule. It’s a bit frustrating to think that, even though Ole Miss could be a better squad this fall, such won’t show up in the wins and losses column. For this to be a success, Ole Miss will have to earn bowl eligibility. That would not only hint at a greatly improved ballclub, it would set the Rebs up for the 2012 season very nicely.
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