2004 Ole Miss Rebels Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> David Cutcliffe (40-22, 5 years) <br><br> <b>Last Season's Record:</b> 10-3 (SEC West T-1, AP #13) <br><br> <b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2004 Cotton Bowl (31-28 win over <!--Default NodeId For Oklahoma State is 370,2004--><A HREF=http://oklahomastate.TheInsiders.com>Oklahoma State</A>) <br><br> <b>Key matchup(s):</b> <A HREF=http://tennessee.TheInsiders.com>Tennessee</A> (10/16), @<A HREF=http://louisianastate.TheInsiders.com>LSU</A> (11/20), Mississippi St.(11/27)

Star Power: QB Michael Spurlock (Jr) 5-11 200; RB Vashon Pearson (Jr) 6-0 205

Notable Additions: RB Lavarus Giles, 6-2 205, Benoit, MS; S Larry Kendrick, 6-0 205, Pearl River CC; LB Gary Pack, 6-1 220, Hattiesburg, MS.

Notable Subtractions: QB Eli Manning; WR Chris Collins; RB Tremaine Turner; DT Jesse Mitchell

Notable Returnees: WR Bill Flowers; RT Tre Stallings; CB Travis Johnson

10/02/04Arkansas State
10/09/04@South Carolina
11/20/04@Louisiana State
11/27/04Mississippi State
Offensive Overview: With the loss of their top three offensive producers from last year (Manning, Collins, and Turner) quarterback Michael Spurlock must develop into a big time SEC player. The offensive line is seasoned and will provide Spurlock with time to throw to a group of solid receivers. At the running back position there is a lot of young depth and someone needs to step up and fill the void left by Termaine Turner. The Rebels are a lot better off offensively than people think as Cutliffe has done a wonderful job at developing players over the years.

Defensive Overview: The defense lost seven starters from last season and that will hurt them. They have a lot of speed on defense led by cornerback Travis Johnson and safety Eric Oliver. The upside for the Rebels is that the defense is young and should improve over the season. The defensive line also remains a question as only DT Daniel Booth returns.

Special Teams Overview: The kicking game will be solid once again as kicker Jonathan Nichols returns. Last year Nichols was 25-29 and won the Groza award as the nation's best kicker. Punter Cody Ridgeway averaged 44.2 yards per punt last season.

The Rebels will be ranked in the top 25 at the end of the year if... Spurlock is effectively able to run the offense and the defense is able to mature quickly. In addition the Rebels need to avenge last season's loss to Memphis and stay competitive in the SEC west.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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