Posted: 9:00 a.m. Thursday, July 25, 2013
By Brandon Larrabee
One of the more important reasons to think that Hugh Freeze might be able to meet or exceed last year's surprising debut season at Ole Miss can be found in this year's depth chart. The team loses just five starters from last year -- and that's if you count the punter and placekicker. The lost starters on the offense that churned out an average of 458.8 yards over the last four games include a running back, a tight end and a guard.
Experience, of course, doesn't automatically translate into wins or even into a player automatically getting better. But the thing is, there's a lot of room for the Ole Miss depth chart to grow statistically. And if they can do that, this could turn into a dangerous team in the SEC West.
BIGGEST RETURN |RB Jeff Scott
Who was the leader in all-purpose yardage for Ole Miss last year? If you answered Donte Moncrief, you would be wrong. Scott actually beat Moncrief out by more than 100 yards, largely because Moncrief was only a receiver while Scott also returned kicks and caught some balls along with his running back duties. In all, Scott rang up 1,082 all-purpose yards -- the largest portion being his 846 yards rushing -- and ended up with seven total touchdowns. It's hard to say that Scott is a star in the league yet, but he might be by the time the year is out.
BIGGEST LOSS |RB Randall Mackey
This is a difficult pick, largely because (as we noted) there are so few players to pick from. But Mackey was a nice multipurpose player to have if you're running an offense. He ran for 325 yards and four touchdowns, had 346 receiving yards and a touchdown and was 3-of-6 passing for 59 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Again, Mackey's versatility will likely be missed by the Rebel play callers, but he's also largely here because of the competition.
BREAKTHROUGH POSSIBILITY |QB Bo Wallace
It seems a little bit odd to list last year's starting quarterback as the possible breakout star for this team, but it still feels like Wallace came up a little shy of his potential in 2012. His 142.69 passer rating is solid, but not the stuff that SEC Storied documentaries are made out of. Wallace was 235-of-368 for 2,994 yards, 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Even if Wallace can essentially match last year's totals while cutting back on the interceptions, Ole Miss would likely be in pretty good condition. But if Wallace can do a bit more than that, it could require raising the ceiling we might considering for the program.