Some might think junior QB Jevan Snead will have a tough act to follow from his sophomore year, when he led the Rebels to a 9-4 season including six straight wins to end the campaign.
Coach Houston Nutt is not one of those.
"Jevan now has more knowledge and confidence. We expect him to pick up where he left off and build off that," said Nutt. "He will be the first to tell you he can improve a lot of things and we expect him to take another step forward in spring and then carry that over to fall."
Snead, who obviously enters spring training as the number one quarterback on the depth chart, believes he's done a 180 since last year at this time.
"Last year was tough. I was trying to learn the terminology and the playbook, plus play my position, all at once," he recalled. "I was also dealing with learning my receivers. This year it's different. I know my receivers better because we have been together another year. I know the plays and the terminology we are starting off with.
"That knowledge has helped me relax. I'm not as stressed as I was last spring. Now that I have a year under my belt, I feel way more comfortable coming into spring training. I think my retention has been good, so I am ready to improve and keep working hard. Knowledge goes a long way in helping your confidence and in allowing you to relax and perform stress-free."
Snead felt he made strides in the offseason and was pleased with his results.
"I thought I got better in some areas I needed to get better in. I'm stronger and in better shape, so I feel good about that," he explained. "I'm always striving to get better and I put in the effort in the offseason. We'll see how it translates onto the field."
Jevan does not know what will be added to the Rebel playbook this spring, but he's anxious to find out and knows whatever is added will work.
"Coach (Kent) Austin has so much information in his head and in his playbook, I have no idea what we are going to do," Snead noted. "Some of the things he has shown us on the board are great, but there's no telling what direction he will go in. He's so intelligent and has so much in his arsenal, we don't know what to expect, but we know it will be exciting and we know he will put us in a position to succeed. I'm looking forward to it."
The question has come up a thousand times since the Cotton Bowl - how do the Rebs take up the slack for losing Mike Wallace, the ultimate deep threat?
"We will miss Mike, who was tremendous, but Lionel Breaux has great speed and we have other receivers who can stretch the field," he explained. "We're going to be fine. Just because someone is not as fast as Mike does not mean they cannot be a deep threat or stretch the defense. Not many guys are as fast as Mike. I have a lot of faith in the guys who are coming back to step in and fill his spot effectively."
Snead seems unaffected by the preseason talk of the Rebs being a Top 10 team.
"That has to be earned. I think we can be that good, but we will have to work hard and make it happen. It won't be given to us," he closed. "I have all the confidence in the world we can do it and will do it."
Snead does not anticipate 2009 being anything but a leap forward for him and the team.
Tough act to follow? Not to Jevan.
Jevan Snead -
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