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June 13, 2011
Rebels rebuilding too
Ole Miss Rebels
2010 Record: 4-9, 1-7
Q&A with Chase Parham of RebelGrove.com
Q - Is this basically a "start over" type year for Coach Nutt and are fans still on his side after last season?
A - "In some ways yes, but Ole Miss really needs for this year's football team to be competitive and around bowl contention at the end of the season. After one of the worst overall athletic years in recent memory, the fan base is restless and in need of something to get excited about. It's definitely not an ideal situation for Houston Nutt, as the Rebels are very, very thin at cornerback and linebacker and inexperienced on the defensive front. Ole Miss will rely on a solid offensive line and the offensive backfield led by Brandon Bolden. The fans are still with Nutt, especially after he made three coaching changes during the offseason - mainly turning over the offense to coordinator David Lee."
Q - Hindsight being 20-20, so you think Coach Nutt regrets bringing in Jeremiah Masoli for that one year, in that it could possible have delayed the development of Nathan Stanley and Randall Mackey? Who will be the quarterback when Ole Miss hosts Georgia in September?
A - "Even though the record was ugly, Jeremiah Masoli helped that team. He was the best player on offense and kept the season from being even more of a trainwreck than it was. In saying that, practices last August were spent learning the read option instead of getting more reps for Nathan Stanley. But, after watching Stanley for several years, I don't think he would ever excel in the SEC. He's left the program after finishing fourth during this past spring's quarterback competition. Randall Mackey needed a year in the system, so he didn't have a lot of impact on Masoli. Mackey is a heck of a playmaker, but he needed to work through some communication issues during a redshirt season. I expect the quarterback to be transfer Barry Brunetti. The dual-threat QB transferred to Ole Miss from West Virginia and received immediate eligibility from the NCAA recently. He came on strong in spring practice, and the coaches expect him to make a jump as the system becomes more familiar."
Q - Defensively, Ole Miss finished dead last in the league last year. Is there hope for a turnaround?
A - "This is the unknown. Ole Miss lost its top four defensive tackles to graduation, so the youngsters will have to grow up quickly. The Rebels should be much more athletic in the middle, but they'll also be smaller than past years. Linebacker took a key hit when D.T. Shackelford tore his ACL during spring practice, and promising linebacker Clarence Jackson was dismissed from the program after multiple violations of team rules. Cornerback is thin, and Ole Miss is hoping for several freshmen to make early impacts. Rivals100 signee Nick Brassell has some academic issues to clear up but should play immediately. Senquez Golson, another cornerback signee, will be drafted early in the MLB Draft, so Ole Miss may not know his availability until August. The defense will be better. How quickly is the question."
Q - Defensive end Kentrell Lockett was granted his sixth year. Will he be able to come back full speed?
A - "Kentrell Lockett should be ready to go at the start of fall practice. I've heard good things about his rehab, and he's a vocal leader that instantly elevates the play of those around him. Considering the youth and inexperience on defense, Lockett's return is of the utmost importance."
Q - Who are some of the incoming freshmen that may be able to make an impact?
A - "C.J. Johnson, a Rivals.com five-star middle linebacker signee, tops the list. With Ole Miss' limited depth chart at the position, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder will be counted on from day one. Brassell, who I already mentioned, can help Ole Miss in a lot of ways. He's expected to be a dynamic player on all sides of the ball -- including special teams. Donte Moncrief, a physical wide receiver out of Raleigh, Miss., was a leader of other in-state players during his recruitment and should add depth and size to Ole Miss' pass-catching group."
Q - Prediction time: What kind of season is Ole Miss in store for this fall?
A - "I hate predictions. It's a no-win situation, but I polled several different writers that cover the team and have an answer: 4-8. Said one writer: "It's hard to find six wins on the schedule, especially not knowing the impact of the incoming class. The critical games are obvious. The Rebels have to win at Vandy and then play well against BYU, Fresno and Kentucky. 3-1 in those four games would give them a chance."