As a lifelong Oregon and Pac-10 fan, I can be grouped with the masses in that I am sick of hearing about Jeremiah Masoli. He brought great success to the Oregon program, but even before his legal issues, I never put him in the same category of beloved Oregon quarterbacks such as Danny O'Neill, Dennis Dixon, Bill Musgrave, and Joey Harrington.
As much as his name makes me cringe, I am very intrigued to watch the Ole' Miss football team this coming fall. Here is a few things to look for from Masoli and the Rebels during the 2010 season.
The Ability to Adjust
Many Oregon fans will remember Masoli as a late addition to the 2008 recruiting class, and that he didn't arrive until just before fall camp. The former junior college star from San Francisco Community College was leading the Oregon offense just a few games into the 2008 season and continued to roll from there on. Masoli led the team to a highlight reel victory over Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl providing great momentum into the 2009 season. Last season, he led the program to it's first Rose Bowl berth since 1994, and a 10-3 season.
With two years of collegiate experience under his belt, once again Masoli finds himself adjusting to a new program, offense, and campus shortly before fall camp opens. The one-time Heisman candidate must learn a new type of offense, gel with a new team, and adjust to living in Oxford, Mississippi. Can Masoli adapt as quickly as he did with Oregon just two years ago?
You Can't Lean on the Spread Offense Again
The former Oregon quarterback will be taking over for Jevon Snead, granted he can win the starting position before an opener against Jacksonville State. The Rebels are coming off a 9-4 season with hopes of returning to another bowl game.
Historically speaking, Houston Nutt has never encouraged his quarterbacks to run. Part of what made Masoli so valuable was his ability to roll out of the pocket or run the ball himself.
In 2009, Snead completed 54 percent of his passes for 2,632 yards with 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. In comparison, Masoli finished last season with a 58.0 completion percentage on 2,147 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. The former Duck also ran for nearly 1,400 yards passing in two seasons.
With the loss of Dexter McCluster, the Rebels are breaking in a new starting running back, and Masoli will be counted on for senior leadership. If Masoli doesn't win big at Ole Miss, is it a result of the talent surrounding him, the level of competition, or the offensive scheme?
A Look at the 2010 Ole Miss Schedule
Fortunately for Nutt, he has five games to ease Masoli into the offense before the serious SEC contenders come calling. The Rebels play four of their first five games in Oxford until traveling to play Alabama on October 16th.
Don't be surprised if several more Rebel games are picked for national broadcasts after Nutt allowed Masoli to walk on to his program. All be it negative attention, the Rebels haven't received this much publicity since they beat Florida a few years back, or possibly even when Eli Manning was leading the team. Here is a look at the 2010 Ole Miss schedule.
Saturday, September 4th vs. Jacksonville State in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, September 11th vs. Tulane in New Orleans, Louisiana
Saturday, September 18th vs. Vanderbilt in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, September 25th vs. Fresno State in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, October 2nd vs. Kentucky in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, October 16th vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Saturday, October 23rd vs. Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Saturday, October 30th vs. Auburn in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, November 6th vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in Oxford, Mississippi
Saturday, November 13th vs. Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee
Saturday, November 20th vs. LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Saturday, November 27th vs. Mississippi State in Oxford, Mississippi
Is Masoli Representing the Pac-10 Against the SEC?
Pac-10 fans often speak of a consistent lack of respect from those east of the Rockies. If a player with two years of Pac-10 experience can dominate the defenses of the SEC, it only looks good for the quality of play on the West Coast.
Far from a legitimate NFL prospect, Masoli is undersized, an average passer, and now spotted with questions of character. Indirectly, Masoli is showing the ethical conduct of Chip Kelly over Houston Nutt, and representing his former team and conference.
Like I stated earlier, I am far from a Masoli supporter, but I do guarantee you I will be following his play this year. If the Rebels can somehow pull of a great season, an Oregon against Mississippi bowl game matchup would be tremendous must-see television.