Ole Miss's Reasons for Success in 2008

Derek StephensSenior Analyst IJuly 16, 2008

Many fans define success with National Championships, Heisman Trophies, Conference Titles, and other highly regarded accomplishments—but when you gather information about Ole Miss's 2008 team, success will be measured by coaches, media, and fans as whether the Rebels can get back to a bowl game.

I have written several articles over the past couple of weeks, explaining the reasons for success in 2008 for the Ole Miss football team.  Now, we're going to do an overall look at why I believe Ole Miss is about to have a breakout year with six to eight wins.

Looking at last season, Ole Miss was on the brink of defeating Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi State, and they also outscored national champion LSU in almost every category but the scoreboard (but gave up four turnovers).

Point to bad coaching decisions, bad luck, or fate, but none of those games went Ole Miss's way.

Let's take an overall look at why I believe Ole Miss can have success in 2008.

1) Coaching Change

Define Houston Nutt however you like, but the only way to go is up from the 2007 team, and I'm willing to bet few would debate that Houston Nutt is a significant upgrade from Ed Orgeron.

I also feel as though he can improve this team a lot in a small amount of time.  The talent is in place, and Houston Nutt has proven he can consistently get you to bowl games, which Ole Miss defines as success for the 2008 squad.


2) QB Play

Since Eli, Ole Miss has gone through a handful of QBs to find at least a consistent, durable QB—and none has emerged.  Texas transfer Jevan Snead looks to solve the problem.

Joe Schad said on College Football Live that Jevan Snead has "one of the top five best arms in college football."  He also has plenty of help from a very athletic receiving core with Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge, Dexter McCluster, and others.

There was a reason why the former coaching staff allowed him to delay his minor knee surgery until after the 2007 season was over, so he could run with the scout team.  He showed out during the annual spring game, completing 20-26 for 269 yards and two TDs.  He also excels off the field with a 4.0 GPA and always has a great attitude with plenty of leadership during interviews.

The attitude and the talent undoubtedly prove that Ole Miss, at the very least, has the best QB since Eli took the field for Ole Miss.


3) The Talent

Ed Orgeron was known as a recruiter when he was hired at Ole Miss, and that's what he left known as.  Orgeron couldn't prove himself as an SEC coach, but he did leave Houston Nutt great talent to work with.

The receiving corps, as I've previously stated, has enormous depth, along with the defensive line.

If former five-star defensive tackle Jerrell Powe is declared eligible (which many are expecting in the next few days), the defensive line definitely ranks at the top of the SEC, and arguably the nation.  Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy lead the way on the defensive line as not only great players, but projected first round draft picks.

The offensive line returns four starters, including Michael Oher, and the linebacking corps and secondary only lose only one starter.  The talent is definitely there.


4) Favorable Schedule for at Least Six Wins

Many may argue about the treacherous road games, but looking at the schedule it is very possible for Ole Miss to end up with six wins.  You have Memphis, Vandy, Louisiana-Monroe, and Mississippi State who Ole Miss expects to beat this season.  If Ole Miss can pull two upsets in between those games, they can win six.


5) Potential Impact Freshman

There is no doubt that Enrique Davis, a five star recruit that originally signed with Auburn, will come in and provide immediate playing time at RB, but people don't know about another recruit from Hargrave that might have an impact.

Talking to people close to the team, former West Virginia commit Andrew Harris from Hargrave shows great talent at WR.  Many people believe he can compete for some serious playing time in an already deep full receiving corps.


There you have it, the main reasons for Ole Miss's success in 2008—a good QB, proven head coach, plenty of talent, and a conquerable schedule.  The equation is there for the Rebels to get over the hump if they can learn to win in close situations and have the attitude to win every time out.


Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com