Can Ole Miss's Offense Become Explosive in 2008?

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Can Ole Miss's Offense Become Explosive in 2008?

Let's just be honest: Ole Miss's offense has not seen much success in the past five years.  If only Eli had more than four years of eligibility. 

That looks to change in 2008.

Before we begin, let's think about something.

Ole Miss hasn't scored at least 30 points against a bowl subdivision (DI-A) team since they played South Carolina in Columbia in 2004. 

Wow.  It's been a while.

I bet you are now wondering, why is Derek Stephens about to write an article about how Ole Miss' offense can be "explosive"?

Because now it seems it's not only me that believes that it is probable, not just possible.

Let's take a look.

Ole Miss' offense has one key component that it hasn't had since 2003: a stable QB.  I believe, along with many other people, that Jevan Snead can at least relieve the problems Ole Miss has had the past four years, which have seemed like a post-Eli QB curse.

Snead has reportedly looked very sharp during fall practice, and in his last scrimmage, he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

If you don't know, Jevan Snead was a highly touted QB who originally signed with Texas in 2006 but was beaten out by Big 12 standout Colt McCoy. 

That's not really a knock on Jevan.  Colt was a great QB himself: He had a year of experience under Vince Young as a redshirt and so far has had a pretty good career.

Even today as you search the message boards, some Texas fans say they believe Jevan should've won the job.  I guess we'll soon find out in August.

Either way, I think both programs (Ole Miss and Texas) ended up with a win-win situation. 

Joe Schad even reported on College Football Live, as I've stated in past articles, that Jevan Snead "has one of the top five arms in college football." 

Let's look at another reason that the Rebels offense can be explosive.

People have complained about Houston Nutt and his control over offensive coordinators.  However, even though he's still running the plays, he's hired offensive guru and former Ole Miss QB Kent Austin as his offensive coordinator to heavily assist him.  It's showing in practice.

Austin was a new head coach for the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders last season and led the team to the CFL's equivalent of the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup. 

He brings an array of offensive strategies, from basic I-Formations to the Pistol.  His relationship with Coach Nutt is evident during practice and off the field.

Kent Austin was a great QB for the Rebels, and Snead has even stated that Austin knows more about offense than probably anybody he's ever been around.

Finally, let's put the offensive equation together with talent.

Snead has arguably more talent around him than Eli did in 2003.  Ole Miss has arguably the best offensive tackle in the nation in Michael Oher, who is predicted by many as a future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Ole Miss is bringing back four starters from the offensive line, including the previously mentioned Oher, along with another big asset, RT John Jerry.

As for Ole Miss' wide receivers, the entire core returns to play multiple roles.  The Rebels also add four-star Andrew Harris to the mix.  Harris doesn't look like a typical freshman at 6'4", 195 pounds, and he appears to be a solid player who will get plenty of playing time.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace, who was in my opinion a big snub for All-SEC, led the SEC last season in yards per catch at 18.8.

For the RBs, Ole Miss enters the 2008 fall practice in a four-way battle for the starting job.

Cordera Eason seemed to be the early favorite, a former four-star who has waited his turn for two years.  But he might not hold on to the position for long, as the No. 4 ranked RB class in the nation by Rivals.com is battling with him. 

Former Auburn signee and five-star Enrique Davis has been very impressive in practice and is very fluent and fast.  Also, Brandon Bolden was a pleasant surprise during practice, wowing fans.  Bolden seems to be the starter as the receiver or "Felix Jones position" in the Wild-Rebel. 

One thing that Ole Miss has on offense for the first time is depth, in the offensive line, wide receivers, and running backs.  One area where Ole Miss doesn't have a lot of depth is quarterback, as Jevan Snead has been the clear starter for Ole Miss since the day after their horrid defeat by Mississippi State last November. 

Freshman QB Nathan Stanley, out of Oklahoma, does show great potential, and at 6'5", 195 pounds, he looks the part of a future SEC QB.  But at this point in his collegiate career, he's a little too raw to compete and hasn't entirely learned Austin's complex playbook.  The only way he sees the field this year is if disaster hits and Snead goes down.

Even if that was to happen, Stanley would have to battle junior Billy Tapp for the position.  Tapp has shown improvement over the spring and fall, but Snead is just on an entirely different level than the two.

So here's the question: Why not Ole Miss?  Why can't they be explosive?  Their administration has woken up and hired a staff, and to put it into context, "filled in the puzzle pieces."

Maybe they won't be "explosive" at times, and they will probably struggle a little with young talent, but before it's all said and done, Ole Miss should at least be able to look on the scoreboard and see 30 points on their side for the first time since 2004. 

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