I recently had my first experience as a sports reporter in a collegiate press box last Saturday when I watched the Ole Miss Rebels dismantle University of Alabama-Birmingham 48-13. I got a chance to eat free food (my favorite part of the weekend) and watch my alma mater rebound from an embarrassing 22-3 defeat to Alabama.
The Tide made light of my poor Rebels by limiting them to 19 first half yards and one first down in the first half. Following the heartbreaking loss, questions arose about whether Ole Miss Head Coach Houston Nutt should bench his praised quarterback. I, however, noticed that Snead was not the problem. The offensive line was.
The o-line must have gotten an old-fashioned chewing out following the game because they played phenomenal against UAB. They helped Jevan Snead pass for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Fans even got a chance to see what freshman running back Rodney Scott can do. And he didn’t disappoint by scoring two nifty touchdowns. With Cordera Eason in his senior season, he should be seeing more carries in 2010.
And let me be the first to say that I agree that UAB is not Florida or Alabama. But it is a start back in the right direction. With an unpredictable Arkansas team on deck, a 35-point win was a great way to get back on track. The Rebels just need to get the ball to playmakers early and often.
Dexter McCluster, who was the team’s second leader rusher in 2008, has only gained 164 yards. In order to compete with SEC team’s, Ole Miss will have to find a way to get McCluster the ball – whether it be by the Wild Rebel or screen passes.
Snead, also, needs to understand his limits. If a throw is not there, don’t risk it. He seems to be forcing passes instead of letting the game come to him.
Defensively, I am extremely proud of the Rebels – although I’m not surprised. They have given the Ole Miss offense various opportunities to win games.
Without a doubt, Ole Miss has one of the most dominant front seven’s in the nation. This about this: All-American defensive end Greg Hardy isn’t even a starter. The Rebels have a defensive line that is anchored by guys who will all likely have decent NFL careers: Hardy, Kentrell Lockett, Jerrell Powe, Marcus Tillman, Emmanuel Stephens, and newcomer D.T. Shakelford.
Ole Miss knows their defense shows up each week. The question is how will Snead and the offensive line perform? Let’s just hope the Snead of November 2008 returns. God knows we need him.