Usually when interviewing players, a given Rebel is surrounded by media inside the IPF team meeting room, answering generic questions such as their progression or the increased expectations for Ole Miss in 2009.
However, unlike the green transfer from Texas who was just beginning his Rebel career as the man under center a year ago, things are different these days for the Stephenville, Texas native.
"I think just the chance to have last year under my belt has really made me a lot more comfortable," said Snead. "Not only myself, but I feel the rest of the players as well feel more comfortable. We've had that year to get to know the system and how each of us fit into it. We're definitely a lot more comfortable compared to last year."
Before ranking second in the SEC in TD passes (26) and third in passing average (215.5) as a sophomore, Snead's only real game experience came as a backup to fellow Heisman candidate Colt McCoy for the Longhorns.
As a true freshman in Austin, Snead completed 26-of-49 passes for 371 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 87 yards and one touchdown, with his most extensive action coming against Big 12 opponent Kansas State when McCoy went down with a shoulder injury.
However, those numbers are a far cry for a quarterback who established Ole Miss season records for average yards per completion (15.0) and pass attempts (8.4) two years later.
"I think the biggest difference this year is my confidence level and how much of the offense I know," he said. "Personally, I feel a lot more comfortable and confident. I'm more comfortable in the system. I feel like I can bring a lot more to the table."
In his first game in Red and Blue, Snead totaled 185 yards through the air on 10 completions. He notched two touchdowns in the 41-24 Ole Miss win, but completed only 45 percent of his passes.
But as the year wore on, the 6-foot-3, 215 pounder only got better. After tossing four interceptions in a forgettable loss to Vanderbilt at home, Snead closed the season with 20 touchdowns and only six INTs.
Now, after garnering numerous preseason honors and being named to various watch lists, Snead has placed his name amongst the more decorated quarterbacks in college football.
"Really, we're not focused on that at all," Snead said of any statement the team needs to make Sunday with such high expectations for the season.
"Personally, I feel we need to simply go out there and play the best we can play and do everything we possibly can to win the game. Whatever people are saying, it isn't going to affect how we play. We're going to do everything we can to go out there and get a victory."
While the team closed with six-straight wins to end the season, some early portions of 2008 were quickly forgettable for Snead and company.
After tackling the Tigers at home, Ole Miss dropped a heartbreaker at Wake Forrest, before returning home for an uninspired 34-10 win over Samford. A six-turnover game led to possibly the toughest loss of the season to Vanderbilt, with the Rebels dropping another disappointing outing to South Carolina two weeks later.
At that point, a 31-30 upset over Florida in the Swamp appeared an aberration. However, sound play in a second half in Tuscaloosa changed a season, followed by a nail-biting finish at Arkansas.
"We've just got to be consistent and consistently take care of the football," Snead said. "We can't make those mistakes we started out making last year. It's no secret that we kind of stumbled a little bit at the beginning of the season. It's one of the things we're working and striving toward – to get going quicker and try not to have those mistakes."
And it starts with Memphis.
After finishing with 2,762 yards through the air last season, Snead understands the expectations surrounding his team with a trip to the Bluff City rapidly approaching.
Ole Miss holds a commanding 46-10-2 record against the Tigers in the overall series and has won the last four meetings. The Rebels have been victorious in 13-of-17 games dating back to 1988, with a 24-7-2 lead in matchups played in Memphis.
Though history lends itself to Ole Miss wins, Snead isn't looking past the 59th all-time meeting of the Mid-South rivals. Instead, his sole focus is of marching from Liberty Bowl Stadium with the first win of the season.
"They're a great team," he said. "Anytime you play a good team, you're going to have some trouble here or there. But we're just preparing to see if we can recover. Memphis is a good team. We've got to prepare for them as we would prepare for anybody else.
"Some people would say we were the same last year – going into the season without much to lose. It's always dangerous when you have a team that's not supposed to win the game like some people are saying. So we have to prepare for them. They're going to be tough. They always have been."
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