There hasn’t been a more talked about program in the last year of college football as the Ole Miss Rebels, but for all the wrong reasons.
A 2016 calendar year that started off oh so right with a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State, but ended oh so wrong with a Draft night debacle and a second Notice of Allegations has the Rebels future cloudy at best.
Hugh Freeze totally shuffled his coaching staff after a 5-7 campaign this past season and athletics director Ross Bjork announced earlier this spring that his program would self-impose a one year bowl ban on the program as they await a resolution to the ongoing NCAA investigation.
After weeding through all the off the field mess, Ole Miss still has to play football in 2017 and beyond and as we examine the Rebels for 2017 through the Hour Glass, they are still a team that’s going to be a tough out for most teams on Saturday’s this fall.
From a talent standpoint, Ole Miss sets at number eighth in the conference via the Hour Glass Matrix – which is a three year recruiting composite. The Rebels have a recruiting stamp of 87, which is just ahead of South Carolina, and just behind Texas A&M. To put things in perspective, Alabama is tops in the conference with a stamp of 99 and LSU number two at 96.
Ole Miss was considered just a little over a year ago well within the range of a College Football Playoff recruiter and had a profile worthy of such a tag. But, recruiting can change on a dime and the Rebels drew without question their worst class during the Hugh Freeze era this past year.
But – Freeze’s HG Stamp moving forward and where he ends up will depend on how quickly new defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff adapts to life in the SEC. The Rebels fell apart a year ago defensively and need to see drastic improvement on that side of the ball to get back to six wins or better.
From an on the field coaching standpoint, Hugh Freeze has beat back the competition time and again while in Oxford, giving him a three year coaching stamp of (9), which is tied for second with Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M. Only Nick Saban has been better than Freeze from an analytics standpoint.
Quarterback play is the final big enchilada in our equation and the expectations for Shea Patterson couldn’t be any higher. Patterson only played in three games a year ago, so his sample size for evaluation is small – which is why he ranks 10th in our Preseason SEC quarterback rankings.
We fully expect Patterson to move up the charts of SEC quarterbacks by seasons end, but it will be interesting to see how he adapts and evolves under Freeze and new offensive coordinator Chuck Longo.
The biggest faultfinding I personally have with Patterson is his pocket presence and leaving the pocket to ad-lib way too early. He has all the tools to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league, along with a stacked receiving corps; he just now has to go make it happen.
Ole Miss does have the 13th hardest schedule in the SEC in our matrix, which could bode well as far as momentum and getting some wins early.
The one thing we cannot gage is how this locker room will respond knowing they cannot play for a championship or in a bowl in 2017. Some teams have risen above such circumstances in the past to put together great years, while others have folded and packed it up.
We won’t truly know this teams mindset until at least mid-October.