I am a 40-year-old Ole Miss Rebel Fan.
During these 40 years I have seen many autumns approach with great anticipation, and rumblings in and around sporting circles as to the state of affairs in the Ole Miss football program.
Folks, I am here to tell you that I have not ever witnessed the kind of excitement that I am presently seeing.
Oh, I have heard all the fun stories by my Dad about the glory days of the 1950s and '60s, but I have never personally witnessed this kind of excitement.
Is all this talk of pre-season top 10 just that....talk? Are we setting ourselves up for a huge let down?
I don't think so, here's why.
It has been said many times that defense wins championships. But I have also heard that the best defense is a good offense, and Rebel fans, make no bones about it, we have a great offense.
Jevan Snead threw for 2762 yards as a Sophomore. He threw for 26 touchdowns versus only 13 interceptions0 of those interceptions came in the first half of the season. Following the narrow loss to Alabama, Jevan only threw three more interceptions and led his team on a 6-0 winning streak.
Jevan will be back and stronger than ever. Snead may be without Mike Wallace, but with the returning host of receiving talent he does have, I predict Jevan will not miss a beat.
In fact, in the annual Grove Bowl, Jevan led the Blue (1st Team) offense on six touchdown drives, three of which were passing touchdowns. The longest passing TD of the day was to Markeith Summers for 70 yards. All in all, Jevan finished the Red/Blue game 11-for-15, 254 yards with three touchdowns. Not too shabby.
I dont want to sound like it is just the Jevan Snead show. He has a complete academy award winning cast of players surrounding him.
Yes, the receiving corps loses it's 2008 leading receiver, but looking down the list, you would have to go all the way to the Rebels ninth leading receiver to find another Senior.
Returning are Shay Hodge, Dexter McCluster, and Lionel Breaux, who are 1, 2, and 3 respectively. As mentioned earlier, Markeith Summers is also in the mix as well as Gerald Harris. The receiving corps of the 2009 Ole Miss Rebels is a very deep unit.
Ole Miss also has a herd of thoroughbreds returning in the running game. I would expect for Brandon Bolden and Cordera Eason to get most of the carries, but fresh legs will not be a problem.
Looking down the 2008 rushing stats, you will have to go all the way to 14th to find a senior running back (Jason Cook). The Rebs' leading rusher was the dynamic wide receiver Dexter McCluster, and he will again be suiting up for the Red & Blue this year. This kid is so special, I personally got to watch him play last year, and you just never know what to expect when McCluster gets the ball. Dex may be small, but wow, he is the real deal.
The offensive line is the question mark, but Bradley Sowell, using a spring camp demotion as motivation, has came along nicely.
Moreover, joining the Rebels this fall will be four-star recruit Bobby Massie. There will be some good competition for the left tackle position, but it is a position that I believe the coaches will have an answer for come fall. To ease the pressure on that left tackle position, I also look for some new wrinkles to be added to the very popular "Wild Rebel" formation.
I would like to also take a brief moment to touch on the defensive unit. Losing Peria Jerry will hurt, but with studs like Jerrell Powe in the mix, I feel that the DL will stuff the run and wreak complete havoc on opposing passing games.
Hopefully with a healthy Greg Hardy and the ever-present menace Kentrell Lockett, this defensive line can be very good.
I apologize for the length of this article, it's just that when you start looking at the state of affairs for Ole Miss football right now, it is just not a short story it is a novel of the War & Peace variety.
In future articles I will break down each part of the Ole Miss football team, but for now, I wanted to give a briefhowever long it may be preview.