2015 was a year of historical proportions for the rebel football program.
If you would have told fans of the program the rebels went 10-3 (9 being regular season wins),the first time since 2003, the majority of us would have been content with just that.
When you add on a Sugar Bowl win for the first time since 1970 ,it put the icing on the cake.Talk about “Ole So Sweet!”
The addition of quarterback Chad Kelly helped prevent a drop off at the most worrisome position in spring 2015.
Not only did he prevent a drop off, he put on a clinic on how to play the position throwing for 4,042 yards (3rd in SEC history).Here is just a little taste of what was a great 2015 season for Chad.
Kelly will be an impact player once again in 2016. The Rebels will go as far as their QB takes them.
Its true that the Rebels are a true contender currently and look to be a contender year in and year out.
However, the difference between a contender and achieving the ultimate goals of a prominent program rely heavily on quarterbacks.(Except for you Ala freaking Bama, How do guys keep this up?!)
Having the best quarterback in the SEC certainly puts Ole Miss near the top but is it truly enough?
Are the Rebels deep enough in the trenches to win 10 or 11 games in 2016?
In this preview, we will look at the schedule and how they shape up against their SEC foes. Shall we begin?
Sept 5 vs Florida State W 23-20
Sept 10 vs Wofford W 48-10
Sept 17 vs Alabama L 35-31
Sept 24 vs Georgia W 28-14
Points of Intrigue
The Landshark defense will have their hands full with arguably the nations best running back when they play Florida State September 5th.
Dalvin Cook will be a force to reckon with. For those of you who havent seen him, here you go. Dalvin Cook is a beast.However, Florida State will start redshirt freshman Deondre Francois at quarterback to start the season.
In opening games at premier neutral sites, quarterback play can heavily impact the performance of your team. Nothing against Francois,but look for Kelly to be more in tune September 5th.
Alabama is Alabama and will be the most prominent team in the Southeast until Saban hangs his hat up. I give the Rebels a loss,but Ole Miss could very well be 3-0 after the bout with the Tide.
The month of September is almost impossible to predict for this Rebel team. 4-0 or 2-2? I say 3-1.
Oct. 1 vs Memphis W 35-14
Oct. 15 at Arkansas W 30-21
Oct. 22 at LSU L 17-10
Oct. 29 vs Auburn W 24-3
Points of Intrigue
The true depth and strength of the offensive line will come into play during the month of October.
Without Fahn Cooper and Laremy Tunsil, the Rebels will have two new starting tackles which at the moment have not been announced. (Expect Alex Givens and Greg Little to be in the mix)
The young offensive line will be battle tested against two stout defenses in difficult atmospheres two consecutive weeks in October: against the Arkansas Razorbacks and the LSU Tigers.
A drop off in talent for the Razorbacks will hope Ole Miss win in Fayetteville, but the Rebels will not be as lucky come Oct. 22.
Behind the load of Leonard Fournette, LSU is a formidable opponent. LSU will have the advantage squeaking out a nail biter by 7 in Death Valley. In order for that to happen, Brandon Harris must play at least serviceable. Can he do it? we will have to find out and see.
For the sake of predictions, the rebels go 3-1 for the second consecutive month at 6-2 going into November.
Nov 5 vs Georgia Southern W 24-16
Nov. 12 at Texas A/M L 38-28
Nov. 19 at Vanderbilt W 20-6
Nov. 26 vs Mississippi State W 45-10
Points of Interest
The Rebels lose at Texas A/M vs arguably the most underrated quarterback starting in the Sec this year.
Trevor Knight, the former Oklahoma Quarterback, will put up big numbers in Aggie land this year potentially.
The talent gap between Ole Miss and Mississippi State is exposed and the rebels beat the bulldogs convincingly,45-10.
9-3 5-3 Citrus Bowl appearance
The rebels are continuing to make significant strides in the College football spectrum.
Ole Miss arguably has a top 3 quarterback in Kelly.However that does not mean Ole Miss is without flaws as stated previously.
With question marks on both the offensive line and at linebacker, expect a few hiccups along the way.
One position of little concern is wide receiver, although the departure of Laquon Treadwell will definitely be felt.(Heres a highlight reel of Treadwell if you forgot just how impactful he was.)
Ole Miss returns Damore’ea Stringfellow and Quincy Adeboyjo as the premier targets with 36 and 38 receptions in 2015. Expect to be wowed with the addition of three highly recruited freshmen who will push to see the field quickly.(AJ Brown, Tre Nixon, D K Metcalf)
On the defensive side of the ball, Ole Miss will look to continue their dominance on the defensive line with the return of key contributors.
Issac Gross, the senior from South Panola looks to anchor the inside of the line. Fadol Brown and Marquis Haynes will continue to provide stability and consistency at Defensive End.The defensive line will continue its dominance of 2015.
At linebacker, the rebels look to rely on graduate transfer Rommel Mageo. Mageo is a former Oregon State Beaver, and brings with him experience this linebacker core is lacking. Mageo had 87 tackles in 2015, leading the beavers defense in the stat.
Realistically the Hugh Freeze led rebels are likely to fall anywhere from 8-4 to 10-2 give or a take a game.
This team will rely heavily on Kelly’s leadership and who knows, we may be playing for a title in November!
Agree? Disagree? let me know on twitter @RebelBramlett
Hotty Toddy and Go Rebels!