Devil's Advocate (Ole Miss)

Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was touted as a Heisman candidate in preseason but he hasn't played like one. Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton was regarded as a journeyman in preseason but he hasn't played like one.

If you're a Big Orange fan that should scare you a bit as Saturday's Vol-Rebel showdown in Oxford approaches.

Crompton posted a woeful 98.13 passer efficiency rating in 2008 with more interceptions (5) than touchdown passes (4). He is on an inexplicable roll in 2009, however, with a 139.75 efficiency rating, an SEC-best 21 TD passes and just 10 interceptions.

Whereas Crompton has been surprisingly good, Snead has been surprisingly lame. After posting a 145.5 passer efficiency rating with twice as many touchdowns (26) as interceptions (13) in 2008, he has a mere 123.84 rating in 2009. Although he has 17 TD passes to his credit, he already has matched in nine games his 13-game interception total of '08.

The recent numbers are even more dramatic:

Crompton was unconscious last week vs. Memphis, completing 21 of 27 passes for 331 yards and 5 touchdowns. Do you really think he'll be that hot again this weekend?

In his last outing against a Football Bowl Subdivision foe, Oct. 31 at Auburn, Snead completed just 16 of 35 for 175 yards with two interceptions. Do you really think he'll be that cold again this weekend?

The law of averages suggests Crompton will cool down this Saturday and Snead will heat up. Certainly, Snead is a better QB than he has shown lately.

"What sets him apart is his ability to make throws downfield," Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin said. "He's got such a big arm. He's so dangerous. He's had some ups and downs, like most quarterbacks do, but I'm shocked his completion percentage is as low as it is (51.9). When you watch the film it doesn't feel like that because he's had a couple of games that knocked it way down - the Alabama game and the South Carolina game. He's very dangerous."

Another factor that favors Ole Miss this Saturday is the Rebels' rock-ribbed defensive line.

"They're so big and physical upfront and so deep," Kiffin said. "There's just one (big bruiser) after another. Imagine that (Greg) Hardy doesn't start. The guy's a first-round pick. I can't imagine having that much depth.

"They just rotate the D-linemen in. Sometimes you can't even figure out who it is. They're just dominating up there. It's like Alabama in that way."

In case you've forgotten, Alabama limited Tennessee to 2.0 yards per carry (35 rushes, 76 yards) and a season-low 10 points on Oct. 24. If the Ole Miss defense is similarly stingy, the Vol offense could struggle this Saturday.

As Kiffin put it: "We're going to have to play very fundamentally sound and disciplined to have a chance to win."

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