2002 SEC Football Preview- Ole Miss

VandyMania takes a look at the 2002 Ole Miss Rebels and makes a prediction on how they'll finish.

COACHING

Head Coach: David Cutcliffe (Career Rec: 23-13)
Offensive Coordinator: John Latina
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Driesbach

2001 Record: 7-4 overall (4-4 SEC)

2001 SEC/NCAA STATS RANKINGS

Total Offense: 4th / 37th (415.0)
Rushing Offense: 8th / 68th (144.3)
Passing Offense: 4th / 23rd (270.7)
Scoring Offense: 2nd / 11th (35.5)
Total Defense:8th / 60th (375.5)
Rushing Defense: 12th / 105th (214.2)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 2nd / 30th (109.3)
Scoring Defense: 10th / 76th (28.2)

2002 SCHEDULE

Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning completed 259 of 408 passes for 2,948 yards with 31 TDs (all school records) and nine interceptions. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Aug. 31 LOUISIANA MONROE
Sept. 7 MEMPHIS
Sept. 14 at Texas Tech
Sept. 21 VANDERBILT
Oct. 5 FLORIDA
Oct. 12 ARKANSAS STATE
Oct. 19 at Alabama
Oct. 26 at Arkansas
Nov. 2 AUBURN
Nov. 9 at Georgia
Nov. 23 at LSU
Nov. 28 MISSISSIPPI STATE

STARTERS RETURNING

Offense (7):

*SE Chris Collins (6-2, 190, Jr.)
LG Doug Buckles (6-5, 290, So.)
C Ben Claxton (6-3, 288, Sr.)
RG Marcus Johnson (6-6, 320, So.)
RT Belton Johnson (6-5, 290, Sr.)
TE Doug Zeigler (6-4, 254, Sr.)
*QB Eli Manning (6-4, 212, Jr.)

Defense (7):

LE Charlie Anderson (6-4, 225, Jr.)
WLB L.P. Spence (5-10, 195, Jr.)
RE Cory Robinson (6-4, 255, So.)
*SLB Eddie Strong (6-4, 245, Sr.)
MLB Lanier Goethie (6-0, 223, Sr.)
SS Matt Grier (6-1, 190, Sr.)
FS Von Hutchins (5-11, 184, Jr.)

* All-Star Candidates

TEAM STRENGTHS

Quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line.

TEAM QUESTION MARKS

Running back, defensive line, defensive secondary.

KEY GAME

October 19, at Alabama. If the Rebs can get by the Crimson Tide they'll be in a position to challenge LSU for the West's title.

HEAD COACHES COMMENTS

"We have a nice blend of veteran playmakers with youthful talent. We have got to make all that come together. We have more depth than we've had. We need all that because we're playing a very challenging schedule."

"Our spring practice I thought our defense set the tempo for the first time since I've been there. Our defensive staff did a great job of learning and putting together a new system, and the players embraced it. It is a very versatile system. There are a lot more people around the line of scrimmage. I'm excited about it and looking forward to seeing us compete and seeing how it goes on the game field."

VandyMania Projection

Ole Miss missed out on a bowl bid last season after Vandy gave them a late season scare.

Ole Miss has the offense to rack up the points but can their defense get the job done? The Rebs installed a new 4-2-5 defensive alignment for 2002. A lot will hinge on how the defense adapts to the new system. Look for Ole Miss to finish with 7-9 wins and a bowl bid. The Rebs will vie with Alabama as the most likely team to unseat LSU as SEC West Champions. They'll finish in the upper echelon of that division.


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