Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Ole Miss
By ESPN.com staff
OLE MISS REBELS
Record: 2-3 (0-2 SEC)
For the second straight season, the early part of the schedule looked very manageable for the Rebels. And for the second straight season, they find themselves with three losses at the midway point. The season-opening 14-13 loss to BYU at home was a tough one to swallow after playing so well defensively and blowing a 13-0 lead. But the embarrassing 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt two weeks later was the one that sent everything into a frenzy in Oxford. For the most part, the Rebels’ offense has been a disaster. There was a ray of sunshine, though, heading into last week’s open date when junior quarterback Randall Mackey played his best football, leading Ole Miss to a 38-28 win at Fresno State. The Rebels had been juggling quarterbacks, but it looks like they’ve found their guy. The defense, after taking a terrible beating last season, has come back strong and played well enough to win in most games. The schedule only gets more difficult the rest of the way starting with Alabama on Saturday. The Rebels are hopeful senior running back Brandon Bolden will be a lot closer to 100 percent with the extra week of rest. Either way, they’re going to have to pull off some major surprises the second half of the season to avoid a second straight losing record.
Offensive MVP: RB Jeff Scott. When Bolden went down with a fractured ankle in the opener, the Rebels needed somebody to step up. That somebody was the 5-7, 175-pound Scott, who’s been their most dependable offensive threat. He leads the team in rushing (350 yards) and touchdowns (six) and is fifth in the SEC in all-purpose yards (144.6 yards per game). One of the top breakaway threats in the league, Scott has touchdown runs of 69 and 37 yards and also returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.
Defensive MVP: LB Mike Marry. He's been hampered by a painful foot injury, but it hasn’t stunted Marry’s production from his middle linebacker position. The 6-2, 248-pound sophomore has been one of the SEC’s leaders in tackles all season and tops the Rebels with 51 total tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. He's lived in a walking boot throughout the week and hasn't practiced a whole lot, but still goes out there on Saturday and racks up 10 tackles.