If we’re honest with ourselves, few reasons exist to have lofty expectations for Ole Miss football this season.
AJ Brown and DK Metcalf are in the NFL. A redshirt freshman is starting at quarterback. The offensive line is thin.
And then that defense.
It would be foolish to expect the defense to all of a sudden be really good or even kind of good after the atrocities these eyes have witnessed the last two seasons.
And it gets worse. Practically speaking, this should also be the season that the NCAA sanctions start to really show up (lack of depth) on the field.
The odds are against Matt Luke’s team experiencing much success this season. That’s why most are picking Ole Miss to fight it out with Arkansas for last place in the SEC West.
But just when it seems like all reason for hope is lost, you throw in Rich Rodriguez at offensive coordinator and give him a pocketful of quality running backs, make that redshirt freshman QB one that has some legit talent and a little bit of game experience from a year ago, and see that the wide receiver cupboard isn’t exactly bare. It’s inexperienced, but talented.
None of that changes the predicament on the offensive line, but if Rodriguez has proven anything over the years he’s proven that he knows how to use a chalk board to utilize talent and exploit holes in defenses. It’s conceivable that a good X’s and O’s coach, which RichRod is, can figure out ways to create space for weapons like Scottie Phillips and Jerrion Ealy. And if that happens Matt Corral’s job gets a lot easier at quarterback. Maybe the Ole Miss offense could turn out to be really good.
As seen above, I have 5-star abilities to create reasons for hope, but those abilities are being seriously tested by the defense.
Mike MacIntyre is an upgrade at defensive coordinator. He has to be. But can we just be real here? It’s unrealistic to thing that MacIntyre is a coaching magician. If he was he would still be the head coach at Colorado. MacIntyre can’t reach in his hat and pull out All-SEC players. He can’t wave his wand and create linebackers out of thin air. And without these powers I am just not sure what we will see out of the defense this season. I’m not saying he can’t “Coach em up,” but I need to see it happen before I can predict it will happen. When it comes to the defense, it’s hard to get a handhold for hope. “It can’t get any worse,” isn’t a recipe for better.
But maybe the defense is just a little better. Maybe the offense keeps possession of the football longer this season and doesn’t put the defense in as many bad positions as the Phil Longo strategy of three passes and punt. Maybe the defense tastes some success and starts to get a little confidence as the season progresses.
Maybe just a little better is enough to get to six wins and a bowl.