Stock Report: Five to Watch

Ole Miss (3-2, 1-1 SEC) meets No. 8 Alabama (5-1, 1-1 SEC) Saturday at 8:10 p.m. Go inside for five players to keep an eye on as kickoff approaches.

San Francisco, Calif. | SR-TR
SIZE: 5-11/220
STOCK: En Fuego
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Jeremiah Masoli, at least statistically, could have been better in Ole Miss' 42-35 win over Kentucky two weeks ago. He attempted a mere 17 passes, nine completions, for 90 yards. He also carried nine times for 43 yards. But from a pure game-management standpoint, few can argue the game stood as his best as a Rebel. For the first time all season, he didn't throw an interception, while accounting for a career-high four touchdowns. He was efficient as the offense compiled a modest 301 total yards, turning every Kentucky turnover into points – 21, to be exact. He was confident and poised, showing glimpses of a former Heisman Trophy candidate. For Ole Miss to pull off the upset at Alabama, Masoli will need a similar, error-free effort. Alabama is easily the best team Ole Miss has faced this season, and is sure to be motivated after earning its first loss, a 35-21 defeat at the hands of South Carolina. A key factor for any underdog is winning the turnover battle and capitalizing on every scoring opportunity. Masoli is the engine of the Ole Miss offense, his ability to pass and run a challenge for any opposing defense. And with an Alabama defense proven vulnerable in recent weeks, especially in the passing game, expect Masoli to be relied upon heavily for production. If the former Oregon quarterback can again distribute the ball effectively and run a smooth operation, Ole Miss will stay within striking distance. If not, Saturday could get ugly quick.
QUOTABLE: "They're real physical. They're real fast. Everything you like in a defense, they've got it. So it's going to be a real challenge for us. Anytime you go against the top dog in the conference, it definitely is a big test. We're looking forward to it."
WEEK 5 TOTALS: 9 of 17, 90 yards, 3 touchdowns; 9 carries, 43 yards, 1 touchdown
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 14 of 22, 225 yards, 2 touchdowns; 8 carries, 68 yards

#57 DT - Jerrell Powe
Waynesboro, Miss. | SR-2L
SIZE: 6-2/320
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: A lot was made of Jerrell Powe's comments Monday, when the senior defensive tackle said Alabama was exposed as a one-dimensional team in the loss to South Carolina. Some would call it bulletin board material, a motivational tool for Nick Saban's players to whom the comments were directed. In my opinion, however, Powe's comments were taken out of context. Anyone who has followed Powe throughout his Ole Miss career knows he has never shied away from sharing his opinions. He's direct and never a boring quote. His answers don't follow along with the typical team-first clichés, but are, instead, refreshingly colorful. Still, as Nutt made mention of Tuesday, Powe will now have to put those words into action. Whether his comments were meant as a direct challenge to Alabama or not, he has a target on his back. Alabama, a run-between-the-tackles offense, will likely feature a heavy dose of running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Powe, Ole Miss' nose tackle, will be in the middle of all the action. Somewhat in Ole Miss' favor is the traditional style of Alabama's offense. Through five games, three wins, the Rebels have seen multiple variations of the spread. Not so much Saturday. Alabama isn't cute with its offense. Saban knows the talent he has offensively. Alabama would rather wear its opponent down, allowing its embarrassment of riches to grind away the clock and rack up points. If the Rebels, Powe included, can control the running attack and force Greg McElroy to complete throws downfield, they could very well have a chance late.
QUOTABLE: "I think we're going to get the same look whether they lost or won, so I guess it's perfect timing. We can go out and be the second team to beat them. It'll be just as sweet as being the first team to beat them - the almighty Alabama."
WEEK 5 TOTALS: 6 total tackles
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 4 tackles, 2 sacks

#56 C - Evan Swindall
LaFayette, Ga. | FR-HS
SIZE: 6-3/295
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Evan Swindall is in line for his first career start at center Saturday, though A.J. Hawkins, sidelined with a shoulder stinger, is expected to be available in some capacity. Swindall filled in for Hawkins in the team's win over Kentucky, playing most of the fourth quarter as Ole Miss attempted to run out the clock. He was primarily responsible for springing running back Brandon Bolden for a 33-yard rush on third-and-19 to seal the victory. Even so, Swindall, who hails from Hoover, has a tough task in front of him. Alabama features one of the best defensive lines in the country, led by defensive tackle Josh Chapman, who Swindall is familiar with from his playing days at Spain Park High School. As if that wasn't enough, he'll be making his debut in front of some 100,000 in attendance. Safe to say the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Swindall will battle nerves upon first snap. But Swindall is a confident player, despite his standing as a true freshman. He has also earned the respect of his fellow linemen through his tireless work ethic and never-say-die attitude. Another good sign, junior left tackle Bradley Sowell, considered the leader of the offensive front, and his teammates have absolute confidence in the youngster. It's impossible to hide a wide-eyed freshman, especially one thrown into the heart of an offense. How Swindall responds is critical towards pulling off the upset, especially considering the lack of experience within the interior of the offensive line. Between veterans Sowell and right tackle Bobby Massie are redshirt junior Logan Clair and another true freshman, Patrick Junen. Clair and Junen were working well with Hawkins and building continuity for a still developing offensive line. Now it's up to Swindall to keep the momentum of the last few weeks, including back-to-back wins, on course.
QUOTABLE: "As ready as I can be, you know? I've been busting it in practice, trying to get ready. I'm excited. This is what I've dreamed on doing. (Alabama) has some big, strong, hard guys. They'll sit in the hole, try to read you and separate."

#5 WR - Melvin Harris
Buford, Ga. | SO-1L
SIZE: 6-7/205
STOCK: Rising
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Melvin Harris watched as South Carolina took down Alabama, formerly ranked as the nation's No. 1 team. Alshon Jeffery, standing 6-foot-4, reeled in seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide had no answer for the Gamecock sophomore, who is making a case as the conference's best wide receiver. Harris' eyes brightened. He stands 6-foot-7, a matchup nightmare for any opposing cornerback. Harris, comparable to the immensely talented Jeffery, provides an even bigger target, so he imagined the countless possibilities available a week later, when Ole Miss and Alabama would square off at 8:10 p.m. Why? Well, because his role would almost assuredly increase. And he was right. Harris, described by Nutt as Ole Miss' best receiver, will see the field early and often as the Rebels attempt to ambush Alabama with their passing game. Harris is tied for the team lead with two touchdown catches. On paper, those numbers aren't overly impressive. But when taking into account the inconsistencies of Ole Miss' passing game, which has totaled just 243 yards in its last two games, Harris' production sticks out. He has nine receptions for 170 yards on the season and, honestly, is far and away the best receiving option for Ole Miss. He has made himself into a physical receiver, attacking the ball in the air with an unmatched ability to adjust. Saturday, Harris could emerge as the Rebels' not-so-secret weapon.
QUOTABLE: "I'm very excited. This is one game I've been talking about all year. During camp I was visualizing the defense being Alabama. I've been preparing a long time for this game. I can't wait."
WEEK 5 TOTALS: 2 receptions, 46 yards
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 6 receptions, 101 yards, 2 touchdowns

#94 DE/DT - LaMark Armour
Nashville, Tenn. | SR-3L
SIZE: 6-2/280
STOCK: Rising
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Sometimes covering sports can be monotonous. Don't get me wrong, it's a great gig with unique allowances. For instance, there are days when sleeping in is passable, even if on a weekday. It all depends on the schedule. But the routine – press conferences, practices, games – gets tiresome on occasion. Until a story like sixth-year defensive lineman LaMark Armour comes along. It's the type of story that reminds us of why we signed up to do what we do, a player who has fought for his right to play on Saturdays, to dress and run out in front of some 100,000 people inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. If you don't know the story, Armour's career got off to a disappointing start. He was recruited by Ed Orgeron, who made life difficult for not only Armour, but all involved with Ole Miss football. Armour signed in 2005, appearing in two games during his true freshman season. But he fell victim to multiple injuries that sidelined him for the better part of two years. He stood out as a backup last season, playing in all 13 games and totaling 16 tackles. Now, in his final season at Ole Miss, the longtime defensive tackle is slated to start for the first time Saturday, replacing Wayne Dorsey at defensive end. Armour isn't a flashy player. But similar to Marcus Tillman, a four-year stalwart who finished his career in 2009, Armour is fundamentally sound and polished in his technique. He makes few mistakes, a valuable trait, especially when faced with a stout opponent in No. 8 Alabama. Dorsey hasn't found traction in his debut season. The coaching staff has turned to Armour in an attempt to solidify the position. Sure, there will likely be a loss in explosive plays in the backfield. But Dorsey has provided few in his time with the first team. Dorsey could benefit from a more condensed, specialized role. And, conversely, the defense as a whole could reap the rewards of Armour's consistency.
QUOTABLE: "It's going pretty good. I'll do whatever to help the team out. I'm pretty used to that spot. It's just difficult, from playing tackle to end, the different plays. I've been getting into my playbook. It's going pretty good, man."
WEEK 5 TOTALS: 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
BEN'S BOLD PREDICTION: 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss

OM Spirit Top Stories