Hugh Freeze enters his fourth season as head coach at Ole Miss looking to build on a 9-4 season that many might see as a disappointment. The Rebels were able to upset Alabama early before suffering last-minute losses to LSU and Auburn while enduring demoralizing defeats against Arkansas and TCU.
Ole Miss now has a group of juniors from its heralded 2013 recruiting class who could leave for the NFL after this season so there will be urgency to take advantage of the talent while it is still on campus.
The top player of that group on offense is Laquon Treadwell, a 6-2, 230-pound receiver who led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and in receiving yards with 632. He caught five touchdown passes while playing in nine games last season. He is on the path to recovery after breaking a bone in his leg against the Tigers in Oxford this past year.
The offense is hoping to excel with the return of Treadwell and the emergence of former Clemson player Chad Kelly at quarterback, who is expected to take over for 2014 senior Bo Wallace, who was talented but inconsistent.
Chad Kelly transferred to Ole Miss from junior college.Robert Nkemdiche is the junior on defense to look out for this year. The top-ranked recruit of the 2013 class has demanded plenty of double teams in his time in college. Although his influence on the game does not always translate statistically, he still collected 35 tackles and two sacks last season. With Nkemdiche and the rest of the defensive line returning a quarterback’s safety in the pocket is not guaranteed.
The Auburn vs. Ole Miss game on Oct. 31 falls in the middle of a tough three-game stretch for Rebels that includes Texas A&M and Arkansas at home. Getting through these contests unscathed will be quite the task for the Rebels. The Tigers will hope that the game turns out like the last Halloween meeting with Ole Miss, a 33-20 win in Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2009.
Top Offensive Player: Junior Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell
Top Defensive Player: Junior Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche
Quick Fact: Ole Miss is the only team in the SEC with an overall record over .500 (645-501-35, 56.1 percent) that also has a greater winning percentage in postseason play (23-12, 65.7 percent) than overall.
2014 Results: 9-4 (5-3 SEC)
Sept. 5--Tennessee-Martin at Ole Miss
Sept. 12--Fresno State at Ole Miss
Sept. 19--Ole Miss at Alabama
Sept. 26--Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
Oct. 3--Ole Miss at Florida
Oct. 10--New Mexico State at Ole Miss
Oct. 17--Ole Miss at Memphis
Oct. 24--Texas A&M at Ole Miss
Oct. 31--Ole Miss at Auburn
Nov. 7--Arkansas at Ole Miss
Nov. 21--LSU at Ole Miss
Nov. 28--Ole Miss at Mississippi State
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