PREVIEWING THE SEC: Ole Miss

Ole Miss' second-year head coach Ed Orgeron hopes to get his program turned around in 2006 after going 3-6 last season and finishing in last place in the SEC with a conference record of 1-7, and they will have their work cut out for them, as the Rebels will be without six starters from last year on each side of the ball.

On offense, the Rebels welcome the return of fullback Jason Cook (6-0, 230, So.) and freshman All-American honorable mention Mico McSwain (6-1, 203, So.) at running back to lead the charge.

 

Last season, McSwain led the team and set a new school freshman record with 612 rushing yards, but will have to share the position this year and may be moved to wide receiver, as the current favorite at running back is Indiana transfer   BenJarvus Green-Ellis ((5-11, 211, Jr.), who sat out last season at Ole Miss after the transfer. Green-Ellis compiled 1,732 yards during his two seasons at Indiana.

 

Cook will return to the field for the Rebels after missing the second half of last season due to a broken arm.

 

Ole Miss will see several new faces in the receiving corps this fall, with Burnell Wallace (6-0, 175, So.) and incoming freshman Marshay Green (5-10, 170) looking to be the starters at split end and flanker, respectively, with Carlos Suggs (6-5, 200, Jr.) and another newcomer, Michael Hicks (6-3, 215, Fr.), also competing for playing time.

 

Green is moving from running back as he begins his college career, and rushed for 1,034 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in high school. McSwain may also factor into the receiving game if he changes positions.

 

Playing tight end will be Robert Lane (6-3, 225, Jr.), who moved to the position from quarterback during the spring and quickly secured the starting role. Last year, Lane started once at quarterback and twice at halfback. He finished the '05 season with 213 receiving yards and 79 passing yards.

 

Newcomer Brent Schaeffer (6-2, 195, Jr.) will get the nod at quarterback in the fall after transferring to Ole Miss at the end of last school year. Schaffer began his career at Tennessee in 2004, where he started three times as a true freshman before moving to College of the Sequoias, during the spring of '05. During that season, he broke 11 school passing records, throwing for 2,970 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was named the top JUCO quarterback in the country by five different publications.

 

On the offensive line, the Rebels will return three starters from last year's squad, though they will be going through some position changes. Returning starters include Michael Oher (6-5, 330, So., who will make the switch from right guard to left tackle, Darryl Harris (6-3, 285, Jr.), going from center to right tackle and Andrew Wicker (6-5, 290, Sr.), who remain at his left guard position.

 

The other two line positions are yet to be locked, as former guard Thomas Eckers (6-2, 290, Jr.) and JUCO transfer Corey Actis (6-5, 295, Jr.) will compete at center while Maurice Miller (6-3, 320, So.) and James McCoy (6-3, 312, Sr.) continue to battle for the No. 1 spot at right guard.

 

On the other end of the field, the Rebels will see the return of five starters from last season's squad, all of whom are in the defensive backfield, including two linebackers, one cornerback and both safeties.

 

Returning at free safety will be Charles Clark (6-0, 195, Sr.), who has started every game during the past two seasons and recorded 40 tackles, one interception and three fumble recoveries as a junior.

 

Next to him will be strong safety Jamarca Sanford (5-10, 200, So.) who compiled 58 tackles last year.

 

Joining Clark and Sanford in the secondary will be returning cornerback Trumaine McBride (5-10, 180, Sr.), who led the defense with seven passes broken up in 2005. Opposite McBride looks to be Nate Banks (5-11, 180 Jr.) at the other cornerback. Banks made 15 tackles with one sack as a back up a year ago.

 

At linebacker, Ole Miss returns a pair of starters in Garry Pack (6-1, 220, Jr.)and All-American Patrick Willis (6-2, 230, Sr.), who led the country in solo tackles last season with 90 and finished with a team best 128 total tackles and three sacks. Pack was third on the team with 61 tackles.

 

Filling in at the third linebacker will be Quentin Taylor (6-0, 235, So.), who saw action in nine games last season.

 

The Rebels will look to reload in the defensive line this year after losing all four players from last season. Likely to fill the void will be Peria Jerry (6-2, 290, So.) and Chris Bowers (6-2, 231, So.) at the ends, with Hayward Howard (6-4, 300, So.) and Brandon Jenkins (6-5, 280, Jr.) playing on the inside at the tackles.

 

On the special teams, Matt Hinkle will return as the place kicker, going 5-10 on field goals last year and 6-6 on extra points. Rob Park will start at punter for the second consecutive year.

 

QUICK FACTS: OLE MISS REBELS

 

All-Time Series: 53-37-4

 

Stadium: Vaught-Hemingway (60,580)

 

First Meeting: 1894, Ole Miss 27, LSU 6

 

Last Meeting: 2005, LSU 40, Ole Miss 7

 

Head Coach: Ed Orgeron, 3-8, at UM and overall, 1 year

 

2005 in Review: 3-8, 1-7 SEC

 

Final '05 Ranking: Not ranked

 

Off. / Def. Systems: Pro-Set / Multiple 4-3

 

Returning Starters: 12; 5 offense, 5 defense, kicker, punter

 

Last Bowl Appearance: 2004 Cotton Bowl

 

Last Conference Championship: 1963

 

 

STAT BREAKDOWN

 

Total Offense: 281.7 (11th - SEC / 111th - NCAA)

Rushing Offense: 73.3 (12th - SEC / 116th - NCAA)

Passing Offense: 208.5 (8th - SEC / 75th - NCAA)

Scoring Offense: 13.5 (12th - SEC / 115th - NCAA)

Total Defense: 332.6 (7th - SEC / 27th - NCAA)

Rushing Defense: 153.3 (9th - SEC / 64th - NCAA)

Passing Defense: 179.4 (4th - SEC / 14th - NCAA)

Scoring Defense: 22.3 (7th - SEC / 31st - NCAA)

Turnover Margin: -5 (9th - SEC / 85th - NCAA)

 

 

RETURNING LEADERS

 

Rushing: Mico McSwain – 124 rushes, 612 yards, 3 TD

 

Passing: Robert Lane – 22-9-4, 79 yards, 0 TD

 

Receiving: Robert Lane – 17 catches, 213 yards, 1 TD

 

Tackles: Patrick Willis – 128 TT (90S, 38A)

 

 

2006 SCHEDULE

 

Date                 Opponent                     '05 Result

 

S-2                  Memphis                      W, 10-6

 

S-9                  at Missouri                   ---

 

S-16                at Kentucky                  W, 13-7

 

S-23                Wake Forest                 ---

 

S-30                Georgia                        ---

 

O-7                  Vanderbilt                    L. 31-23

 

O-14                at Alabama                   L, 13-10

 

O-21                at Arkansas                  L, 44-10

 

O-28                Auburn                         L, 27-3

 

N-4                  Northwestern State       ---

 

N-18                at LSU                         L, 40-7

 

N-25                Mississippi State            L 35-14

 

 

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

 

The following are some tidbits about the 2006 Ole Miss Rebel football team that you won't get in a typical preview magazine. Did you know?

 

Did you know…

Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Ausmus recently became the proud father of a son he named "Max?" The Rebel football team had only seven players who could max power clean 300 pounds or more when he took over two years ago, but now has over 25 squad members who can accomplish that feat. "Max" is a magical word for Ausmus.

 

Did you know…

Sophomore DE Peria Jerry, the best player you never heard of, played sparingly as a true frosh in 2005, but was the most dominant player on the team during spring training? Jerry's disruption of the Rebel offense made it difficult for new Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner to install his offense as quickly as he would have liked.

 

Did you know…

Transfer TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has made such an impact on the TB position that last year's leading rusher – Mico McSwain, one of the best athletes on the Rebel team – has been moved to wide receiver? McSwain gained over 600 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry while Green-Ellis sat out due to transfer rules in 2005.

 

Did you know…

The Rebel coaches were so pleased with their 2006 recruiting class – ranked number 15 in the country by Scout.com – they are anticipating more than a dozen newcomers to play substantial roles on the '06 team? Prep All-American DT Jerrell Powe is projected as an instant impact player. Junior QB Brent Schaeffer was given the starting job before he ever stepped foot on campus.

 

Did you know…

Between Head Coach Ed Orgeron and OL Coach Art Kehoe, they own nine national championship rings between them? Kehoe collected five during his 25-year tenure at Miami. Orgeron picked up two at Miami and two at Southern Cal.

 

Did you know…

Senior Middle Linebacker Patrick Willis led the nation in solo stops per game as a junior with 9.0 an outing? 

 

- Chuck Rounsaville, OMSpirit.com

 


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