A big product in Ole Miss' six-game winning streak to end 2008 was the play of quarterback Jevan Snead.
The junior's contributions were great, accounting for 1,298 passing yards over that span, including 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
"I think experience was a huge part in that," Snead said of his improved play over the season's latter stages. "I was growing in the offense and knew what to expect. Coach Austin and the staff were a big part in that."
But having not played in over two months, Snead has been forced to knock off a little rust, as he and the Rebels ready for their fourth practice of spring Wednesday.
"I can make a lot of improvement," said Snead. "I'm a little rusty, but I am a lot better than I was last year at this time, that's for sure."
One adjustment Snead and the offense have faced this spring is replacing LT Michael Oher.
Sophomore Bradley Sowell, who made his mark as the second team tight end last season, is manning the spot. But Snead said the adjustment is coming along rather well.
"I'm having to adjust a little, but I have patience because the team had to be patient with me last year," he said. "I know what (Sowell) is going through. There's a lot to learn and do at that position, but Bradley is working hard and doing fine so far."
Snead is also working without the presence of his greatest deep threat from a year ago in the departed Mike Wallace, but is pleased with what he's seen from the wide receivers early.
Lionel Breaux is a prime candidate to replace Wallace, as the junior possesses great speed of his own in stretching the field against opposing defenses.
"Not too many humans have Wallace's speed, but Lionel is extremely fast and moves well," said Snead. "He's doing a great job this spring. We are looking for all our younger guys to step up. We know who our playmakers are, but now we are trying to develop those younger guys to become playmakers too.
"We need them to step up and they are all doing that. I've enjoyed throwing to all of them. They're improving."
Head coach Houston Nutt was also quick to praise Breaux, who made a name for himself on special teams and with catches against Alabama and LSU late last season.
"His speed is close to Mike's, but Mike outran every corner every Saturday. Lionel is fast, though, real fast," Nutt said. "Lionel just needs to work on getting in and out of breaks and running with his pads on. He's got to stay consistent. He's getting there."
Snead said he's focused on improving in many areas over the Rebels' 15 scheduled practices.
"There are so many things I can do to get better," said Snead. "Decision making is a big thing I can improve on. Recognition of defenses and coverages are also things I can get better with."
While Snead is sure to garner the bulk of attention this season as the leader of the Rebel offense, he said the team isn't focused on outside expectations.
With all eyes centered on Ole Miss' progress this spring, he said the only goal is to improve each-and-every practice.
"The big thing that got us here was working hard and not listening to what people were saying," he said. "We have to keep that same mindset and not pay attention to what people say. We'll keep our nose to the grindstone and keep working. It's one day at a time."
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