Two questions answered tomorrow

A thousand questions always surround a season opener for any team, but when the Ole Miss Rebels face the Memphis Tigers tomorrow afternoon in the Liberty Bowl, two major ones keep coming to the surface. Read about it inside.

How will Seth Adams do at quarterback?

How will the Rebs' relatively inexperienced defense fare against an experienced, and sometimes confusing, offense?

Certainly there are a ton of peripheral questions about our Rebs, but those two seem to get to the meat of the matter and are of the utmost importance in this season's lidlifter.

Here's one take on the situation.

Adams has earned the start, there is no question about that. He's done everything that has been asked of him plus some. He has fairly and squarely beaten out his competition.

But what can we expect from the senior signal-caller, who was a walkon a year ago and an after-thought in most people's minds most of last season?

Seth is not going to be the type of player, in this humble opinion, who the coaches can turn to and say "son, go win the game" with some spectacular playmaking. In truth, we've had very few QBs in the last two decades who could carry a team.

What he is capable of doing, however, is being a good operator of the Ole Miss offense. Get the team out of bad calls and into good ones. Execute the basics flawlessly. Read coverages properly. Complete the gimme passes and be careful on the lower percentage passes. Get the ball to his playmakers so they can "go win the game."

That is what is expected of Seth Adams and that is what I expect to see. If he ends up completing several lower percentage (longer) passes, bonus.

The Rebel offense can be effective with that type of performance from Seth. They have enough playmakers in BenJarvus, Marshay, Lane, Hall, Cordera, McCluster, Wallace and Hodge. They just need someone to get them the ball consistently and at the right times.

I don't think Seth Adams is going to dazzle us or the opponents the way Eli Manning did, and the coaches will not ask him to, but I can't think of any reason why he can't be an effective and efficient QB and use his supporting cast to the maximum of their potential.

Adams has worked hard for this opportunity. He's prepared. He's confident. He's got solid support personnel with an experienced OL and experienced skill people around him. He knows that being heady is his key to success and he knows he has to play within himself.

It will be surprising to me if he does not do those things against Memphis.

While we have all been guilty of questioning the lack of experience, etc. of Adams, we have sort of conveniently put out of our minds the fact that the Rebel defense is working with six "brand new" starters in their back seven in Coach O and John Thompson's 4-3 defense.

In other words, Adams will not be the only one making their debut and their positions are almost as cerebral as his. Linebackers, free safeties and corners have to know what they are doing at all times, particularly against an offense like Memphis' that thrives on misdirection, quick hitters, screens, reverses and the like.

A spread offense feeds off mistakes by the defense and getting their ballcarriers in one-on-one situations in the open field.

While good one-on-one tackling is a requirement, and a facet I have faith in with this group of athletes, it is also essential to be assignment-sound against a spread. That can be said for any offense, obviously, but the spread seemingly offers more ways for a defense to break down and bust assignments.

How will Free Safety Kendrick Lewis, CB Terrell Jackson, all the LBs, particulary true frosh Chris Strong, and even CB Dustin Mouzon hold up against the mental pressure an experienced spread offense offers?

Athletically, I believe they will stand the test just fine. Mentally, due to inexperience, you have to take a wait-and-see approach. Limiting assignment busts will be a big key in the game.

As is the case with Adams, the coaches know what their players can and can't do. They have a good plan, a plan the players are confident in, a plan they have worked on since last May because Memphis will not be the only spread offense they face this season.

But, objectively, you have to believe there is some concern in the matchup based on experience versus inexperience.

Certainly, a Rebel win is expected. Physically, it says here, the Rebs will outman and wear down the Tigers. There is no reason to believe they can stop our running game. There is little reason to believe they can handle our defensive line.

But the unknowns of how our quarterback and inexperienced back seven on defense will respond are questions that will have to be answered. In a hurry.

OM Spirit Top Stories