Three Reasons for Ole Miss's Decline After Promising Start

Derek StephensSenior Analyst ISeptember 23, 2008

After the Week Two loss against Wake Forest, many Ole Miss fans were devastated, but they knew their Rebels were the real deal. 

Now the crystal ball doesn't look as clear as it did over two weeks ago, as Ole Miss sits 2-2 going into Florida on Saturday.

There are many reasons for the way Ole Miss has performed since Wake Forest, but here are some main reasons why Ole Miss fans aren't as optimistic as once before.

The Play of Jevan Snead

As the ol' saying goes, stats don't lie.  Look at Jevan Snead's stats after two weeks, and it looked like Ole Miss was getting an early Christmas present. 

Nobody is saying that Jevan Snead won't be a productive QB for Ole Miss this season, but it is evident he has to step his game up in SEC play.

First two games (vs. Memphis, at Wake Forest): 30 of 53, 438 yards, six TDs, one INT

Last two games (vs. Samford, vs. Vanderbilt): 25 of 49, 406 yards, zero TDs, six INTs

Something that should jump out to you is that the completion percentages and yards are comparable. Thus, the only problem is the interceptions. 

This preseason I pointed out that Jevan Snead's job this season wasn't to do it all for the Rebels, but to just do his role and avoid mistakes. 

I would say the first two games he executed very well in his role, but in the last two, I assume he might've felt pressure after the big performance he had against Wake Forest and tried to do it all, which has resulted in his recent decline.

Most logical Ole Miss and college football fans know that Jevan Snead is going to be a good QB for Ole Miss and a definite improvement on QB play since the Eli Era, but he has to avoid the big mistakes to be a great QB for Ole Miss 


No knock on Vanderbilt, as they definitely earned their ranking and proved to be a better team than Ole Miss on Saturday, but any team that gives up six turnovers is going to lose.

Vanderbilt did a great job of forcing Ole Miss into turnovers, but the way the Rebels performed, it showed that they didn't put their best effort into every play to avoid turnovers.

An ESPN announcer once said, "At the end of the day, you show me who had the most rushing yards and who had the least turnovers, and I'll show you the winner"—a very wise statement.  Turnovers cost you ball games every single time.

Here's a look at Ole Miss's turnover ratio week-to-week.

vs. Memphis 

Ole Miss: 0; Memphis: 2

at Wake Forest

Ole Miss: 3; Wake Forest: 1

vs. Samford

Ole Miss: 2; Samford: 0

vs. Vanderbilt

Ole Miss: 6; Vanderbilt: 2

Ole Miss's Turnovers: 11; Opponent's Turnovers: 5

Turnovers will kill you every time, as shown.  Ole Miss wasn't going to get beat by Samford unless they committed about a dozen turnovers, but if you give up at least two turnovers to almost anybody in the SEC, or if you give up three turnovers to an ACC contender, you're going to get beat.  Simple as that.

The Mindset of the Team

As painful as it is for me to say, Ole Miss hasn't won an SEC game since the closing game every year for Ole Miss, Mississippi State, in 2006.  That's nine games without an SEC win, but if you look at my past article explaining Ole Miss at a crossroads, you realize Ole Miss hasn't been the doormat in hardly any of these games. 

The problem isn't performing good enough to win.  The problem seems to be finishing and closing the door on teams (such as Vanderbilt on Saturday).  It seems as though the players don't believe they can win, as if a curse is on them. 

Ole Miss has to break that barrier to start becoming competitive in the SEC.  That starts with a win.  This weekend would be a signature moment for the Ole Miss program, but no Ole Miss fans are counting on a win in Gainesville, though Ole Miss did knock off the Gators the last time—but the Rebels also went 10-3 that year. 

Ole Miss then has South Carolina and Alabama.  I've said since the Vanderbilt defeat Saturday that at all costs Ole Miss must either upset Florida in the Swamp or beat South Carolina in Oxford, and South Carolina would be your best bet. 

Where do the Rebels stand?  Like many other Rebel fans will tell you, the conception changes from week-to-week.  One thing is for sure: Ole Miss has to win an SEC game—soon.

Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for  If you wish to contact Derek, click here to access his bulletin board to leave a message.


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