As we are now two weeks in the college football season, the Ole Miss Rebels are obviously in uncharted waters.
They've started 2-0 for the first time since 2002, and are currently ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll, behind Florida, Texas, and Alabama.
One question everyone has asked: Are they among the elite teams in the nation?
Well, here are five questions that will factor into that answer.
5) Will Greg Hardy get healthy?
Let's just face it, Greg Hardy is a monster. The preseason All-American defensive end was injured throughout the majority of last season with a stress fracture in his foot. This year, Hardy remains a concern after a chop block by Duke Calhoun against Memphis injured the senior standout. When it's third and long for the Rebels in a crucial situation this season, they'll need Hardy more than ever.
4) Are the receivers as good as once believed?
Shay Hodge is legit, there's no doubt about that. Dexter McCluster is a complete gamebreaker. The question is: Who fills the void left by Mike Wallace last season? Jevan Snead hasn't looked his sharpest, but he did make some great throws to Lionel Breaux and Markeith Summers and numerous were dropped against Southeastern Louisiana. As for a positive, newcomer five star freshman Pat Patterson made his debut Saturday, earning four receptions for 79 yards and one touchdown.
The Rebels will need Pat Patterson to step up within the upcoming weeks to give Snead plenty of receivers to rely on, and not allowing opposing defenses to lock on to Hodge and McCluster.
3) Is the secondary a weakness?
Last year, Ole Miss was dead last in the SEC in only one category: pass defense. Plenty of that is credited to plenty of players being shifted from offense to defense, but after only seeing the secondary against Memphis and Southeastern Louisiana, exactly how much has it improved? Can Marshay Green be that lockdown corner that Houston Nutt has envisioned him on being? Will Johnny Brown produce and stay healthy to maintain a spot where the Rebels are very thin?
2) How will the offensive line look against SEC competition?
After losing Michael Oher to the NFL Draft, Houston Nutt and several Ole Miss fan's concern has been the offensive tackle position. So far, Bradley Sowell has graded out fairly impressive. With one of the biggest offensive line's in the SEC, with all starters weighing in on 300 pounds, can the Rebels control the line of scrimmage and dictate the pace of the game with the running game?
1) Will Jevan Snead stay consistent?
The junior quarterback from Stephenville, Texas hasn't done great, but has still been able to get the job done fairly well. So far, he's completed 56 percent of his passes and thrown five touchdowns to two interceptions. However, the Rebels are going to need more accuracy and consistency from the gunslinger to compete for the SEC West title. Maybe it's the vanilla offense over the past two games, but whatever the reason, the team's success relies mostly on the success of Jevan Snead.
Derek Stephens is the Featured Columnist for Ole Miss. Please leave your thoughts on the article below and Derek will gladly reply. If you want to contact Derek, please use the inbox.