Stock Report: Five to Watch

Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 SEC) looks to turn its season around against Fresno State (2-0, 1-0 WAC) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Go inside for four players, and a position, to keep an eye on as kickoff approaches.

San Francisco, Calif. | SR-TR
SIZE: 5-11/220
STOCK: Rising
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Where would Ole Miss' offense be without Jeremiah Masoli? Easy. Up a creek without a paddle. He's been the central figure for two weeks now, drawing consecutive starts in a win at Tulane and a home loss, the second in as many games inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, to Vanderbilt. Nathan Stanley opened the year under center against Jacksonville State, but Masoli entered the game when it mattered most, two overtime periods. Masoli has made dazzling plays but, at the same time, frustrating ones, as well. He's battled turnovers, a trait he rarely showed when leading Oregon to the Rose Bowl last season. Twice he was intercepted by Commodore defenders. Twice. None was more critical than a theft returned for a touchdown in the second quarter, which gave Vanderbilt an early 14-0 advantage. Ole Miss eventually tied the game, but it lasted for all of one play. Vanderbilt retook the lead on an 80-yard touchdown run and never looked back. Ole Miss can ill-afford an uphill battle Saturday. Fresno State, a high-powered offense, feasts on those extra opportunities, with an offense averaging 34.5 points per game. Masoli has absolutely carried a sporadic offense in 2010. He's been one of the few silver-linings during a miserable 1-2 start. In fairness, a primary reason his efforts haven't been rewarded is because he hasn't protected the football. He's thrown one touchdown to four interceptions which, if reversed, could have very well meant another win. If Ole Miss is to turn its season around, it will have to do so on the shoulders of Masoli. And he's certainly capable, as he's proven numerous times already. But he has to cut down on his turnovers.
QUOTABLE: "Decision-making is something that helps your all-around game, especially with interceptions. Last Saturday I had one that got away from me. That (interception) at the end of the game, I was just trying to throw it up there and see if we could come away with it. Other than that, you've just got to watch it."
WEEK 3 TOTALS: 19 for 32, 190 yards, 2 interceptions; 19 carries, 104 yards, 1 touchdown
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 16 for 25, 236 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions; 11 carries, 87 yards

#57 DT - Jerrell Powe
Waynesboro, Miss. | SR-2L
SIZE: 6-2/320
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Arguably no defensive player in the Southeastern Conference was more feared entering the 2010 season than Jerrell Powe. Numerous preseason publications nabbed the senior defensive tackle as one of the nation's best. A preseason first team All-SEC and Outland Award candidate, he was to lead a highly-touted Ole Miss defense, joining Kentrell Lockett to form a formidable defensive-line tandem. But through three games, Powe hasn't been the dominant force Ole Miss fans had grown accustomed to in previous years. True, he has seen every possible double-team thus far, chiefly due to the lack of production at defensive end. However, even when he's made his way into the opposition's backfield, he's failed to register much noise, accounting for five tackles and two tackles for loss in total this season. Really, Powe has been a microcosm of Ole Miss' disappointing defense. He's been solid, but not the daunting presence of his junior season. Maybe it's only a matter of time before he rounds into form. He looked more like himself in a 28-14 loss to Vanderbilt. Maybe he was showing signs. There's no better person than Jerrell Powe. He's a committed leader, while at the same time driven to be the best he can at his position. But he can't do it alone. He can only do his part. Solid isn't what we're used to.
QUOTABLE: "I think I've been solid. I think I've done what the team has asked me to do. That's all I can do, is come out and execute the game plan."
WEEK 3 TOTALS: 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 5 tackles, 2 sacks

#3 RB - Jeff Scott
Miami, Fla. | FR-HS
SIZE: 5-8/170
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Yes, Jeff Scott is listed as probable for Saturday's critical matchup with Fresno State. If he plays, which is all but a foregone conclusion despite his gimpy foot, his role could still be scaled back considerably to only a few touches. Regardless, Scott's presence is a shot in the arm for an Ole Miss rushing attack sorely lacking this season. Of course, the erratic nature of the ground game shouldn't be solely blamed on the running backs. They've had little room to run, mainly due to a lack of interior push from a ever-changing offensive line. But as Brandon Bolden admitted earlier in the week, even when given running lanes, the backs have missed opportunities. Bolden and Enrique Davis are similar, between-the-tackles rushers. Each thrives on lowering their pads and charging vertically. When they can't, or when they're missing lanes, they're simply ineffective. Scott, meanwhile, can bust a big play around the edges. His speed is his weapon. And with the offensive line changing personnel again, as detailed below, he could provide the relief needed as two new starters along the interior get their feet wet. Basically, Scott's absence has made the running game one-dimensional. Korvic Neat did his best to fill in against Vanderbilt, but isn't near the threat of Scott in the open field. Welcome back with fingers crossed, Jeff Scott. Ole Miss needs you in its backfield.
QUOTABLE: "Jeff Scott has a different gear," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said. "He's fun to watch."
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 5 carries, 38 yards, 1 touchdown

#10 WR - Jesse Grandy
Pine Bluff, Ark. | SO-1L
SIZE: 5-10/165
STOCK: Rising
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Following the lead of Masoli, Jesse Grandy makes his second appearance in our weekly stock report, and for good reason. Despite all of the problems that have surfaced offensively, Grandy has been fairly consistent. He ranks behind only senior wide receiver Markeith Summers in receiving yards, while he's tied for second on the team in receptions. What he hasn't been, however, is the go-to receiver Ole Miss so desperately needs. Each week, it seems, the Rebels have had a different leading receiver, a stark contrast from Shay Hodge, the undisputed No. 1 receiver in 2009. Grandy is a legitimate weapon. He has unmatched speed and above-average hands. A positive mark came in the team's loss to Vanderbilt, when Grandy hauled in a season-long 31-yard catch. It was long overdue. Grandy is on the cusp of being great. But the only way he gets there is by taking the reins of an offense missing a true big-play threat. With Korvic Neat out Saturday, Grandy is sure to see more touches, not only receiving-wise, but on the ground. And when he gets his chances, he needs to take advantage. He's found the end zone only once through three games, which, put simply, isn't nearly enough. He's too good not to have the ball in his hands. With Fresno State, an offensive machine, on the opposing sideline, Saturday's affair appears a shootout. Nutt will likely open up his playbook, digging deep in an effort to ratchet up Ole Miss' point total if at all possible. Grandy seems all but certain to be one of the chief beneficiaries.
QUOTABLE: "We need more big plays from Jesse and he'll get the opportunity to do that (against Fresno State)," Nutt said.
WEEK 3 TOTALS: 3 receptions, 47 yards
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 5 receptions, 68 yards; 3 carries, 24 yards, 1 touchdown

The Offensive Line
STOCK: Falling
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: An obvious assessment, but September has been a cruel season-opening month for the Ole Miss football team. A 1-2 record after three games was nowhere near the start any person associated with the program could have predicted, especially when considering the losses. A double-overtime upset at the hands of Jacksonville State is a bad memory that haunts this team. Falling to Vanderbilt wasn't much better. Ole Miss has been a bad football team. And the offensive line is a primary reason why. One need only to go back to the spring when diagnosing the problems up front. Ole Miss applied for another year of eligibility for veteran center Daverin Geralds, but was denied. Suddenly, three new starters were featured at left guard, center and right guard. Luckily, Rishaw Johnson, who had a handful of meaningful starts under his belt, was on board to step in as a starter at right guard. Alex Washington, a junior, was penciled in opposite Johnson, with A.J. Hawkins in a battle with Evan Swindall at center. However, Johnson was dismissed from the team prior to Tulane. Josh Tatum stepped in, performed admirably, but injured his ankle. Michael Brown had a forgettable debut against Vanderbilt, giving way to Logan Clair. Washington hasn't performed up to expectations, replaced by walk-on Patrick Junen this week..... Still with me? Allow me a minute to catch my breath…….. Whew. OK, moving on. So here Ole Miss sits, its fourth game a day away, and its offensive line a mess. The Rebels are virtually in the same position as their season opener, testing the mettle of two new starters at both guard spots. The running game has been average at best. Pass protection, minus tackles Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie, has been an adventure. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has had to use his legs more often than was hoped, scrambling to keep plays alive with no time to sit in the pocket and deliver the ball. Saturday is vitally important for a regressing unit. The front needs a good day for all of chemistry, continuity and confidence. Offensive line coach Mike Markuson has had to perform his greatest patch job yet, and hopefully for the last time.
QUOTABLE: "If you don't have depth, you don't have depth. If you need them, you have to use them," Markuson said. "We have to play for today and not tomorrow at this point. Ideally, I would have liked to have put a redshirt on (Junen and freshman Jared Duke). They are able-bodied guys and we need that infusion."

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