It was to be a year to legitimize his Heisman candidacy and stake claim as the top overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. But now six games into his junior season, the script for second-year Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead hasn't quite gone according to plan.
Having reached the halfway point of a highly-anticipated year for Ole Miss, Snead has completed only 80 of his 161 passing attempts, while totaling 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions. A preseason All-SEC Second Team selection, the Stephenville, Texas native has passed for 1,108 yards through the air, but ranks ninth in the conference in pass efficiency (120.9).
However, in a 48-13 win over UAB last weekend, Snead made good on over 60 percent of his pass attempts (15-of-22) for 240 years and three touchdowns. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
"It felt good to finally get out there and play good as an entire offense," he said. "Anytime you're able to put up points, it feels good. We had been stumbling until that game. Hopefully last Saturday will get us going for the rest of the season."
With Ole Miss facing a crucial two-game slate against Arkansas and Auburn, a season at its crossroads with two losses already can ill-afford a final run filled with the alarming inconsistency of Snead in weeks prior.
Before the encouraging performance versus UAB, Snead was completing just over 48 percent of his passes, while having thrown a season-high four interceptions in a 22-3 loss to No. 2 Alabama.
"(The interceptions) have been a surprise," said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. "He doesn't deserve all of them, even though they go under his name. Some balls pop up out of a receiver's chest or were taken away from a receiver. Some are not his fault. But it's a team game and he accepts it."
Comparable to his teammates moving forward, Saturday marks a new season for Snead.
As the signal-caller who ranked second in the SEC in touchdown passes (26) and third in passing average (215.5 ypg) last season, Snead has certainly proved capable of handling the trials and tribulations as a starting quarterback in the SEC.
"He knows he can play better," Nutt said. "He started last week playing much better and making good decisions. That's all we want him to do. We want him to be Jevan, a guy that makes good decisions, has a good arm, and is a good quarterback."
Or the quarterback who set an Ole Miss season record for average yards per completion (15.0) and ranked third in the SEC in pass efficiency (145.5) as a sophomore.
"I'm hoping last week (against UAB) is going to be the springboard that gets us rolling from here," Snead said. "I know (Arkansas) is going to play with a lot of intensity. They have a great defensive line and a really strong defense overall. I'm looking forward to playing them. It should be a really good game."
While Snead's early struggles in 2009 are surely substantial, they're not unusual. Last season, Snead endured a similar stretch of poor play, as his touchdowns (9) equaled interceptions through six games.
However, in the Rebels' seven remaining contests to end the year, Snead notched 17 touchdowns to only four interceptions. And with the team eyeing another six-game winning streak to close out 2009, a repeat of those same late-season heroics is desired in the junior.
"I think we can take off now. I think all we needed was a game like (UAB) that we can build on and play offense the way we did last year," he said. "We played our kind of football."
A Clean Slate
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