SEC: Joshua Shene

Ole Miss spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

Ole Miss Rebels
2008 overall record: 9-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Jevan Snead, WR Dexter McCluster, WR Shay Hodge, OT John Jerry, DE Greg Hardy, DE Kentrell Lockett, LB Patrick Trahan, FS Kendrick Lewis, PK Joshua Shene

Key losses

OT Michael Oher, WR Mike Wallace, FB Jason Cook, DT Peria Jerry, SS Jamarca Sanford

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Dexter McCluster* (655 yards)
Passing: Jevan Snead* (2,762 yards)
Receiving: Shay Hodge* (725 yards)
Tackles: Kendrick Lewis* (85)
Sacks: Greg Hardy* (8.5)
Interceptions: Kendrick Lewis* (4)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule
Sept. 6 at Memphis
Sept. 12 BYE
Sept. 19 Southeastern Louisiana
Sept. 24 at South Carolina
Oct. 3 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 10 Alabama
Oct. 17 UAB
Oct. 24 at Arkansas
Oct. 31 at Auburn
Nov. 7 Northern Arizona
Nov. 14 Tennessee
Nov. 21 LSU
Nov. 28 at Mississippi State
Snead's team: If the Rebels are going to make a run at their first SEC championship in more than 40 years, Jevan Snead's the guy to take them there. He was terrific over the last half of last season and took it to another level this spring. Offensive coordinator Kent Austin will be able to expand the playbook with Snead under center and give him more freedom.

Powe emerges on defense: Jerrell Powe certainly waited long enough to play in a game for Ole Miss, and after learning on the job a year ago and getting his weight down, he showed this spring that he can be a difference-maker up front. He's poised to be a big part next season of one of the deepest defensive lines in the country.

Trahan the man: The Rebels have talented defensive linemen coming out of their ears, which is the strength of this defense. But keep an eye on outside linebacker Patrick Trahan, who had his moments last season and blossomed this spring. He's a big-play linebacker with the speed, strength and desire that it takes to be a star in this league.

Fall questions

Handling the hype: From a talent standpoint, Ole Miss ranks second only to Florida in the SEC. But this is entirely new ground for the Rebels. They're probably going to be a top-10 team entering the season, and the expectations are going to be off the charts. We'll find out a lot about this team's maturity, focus and leadership next fall, because the talent is there to be special.

Solidifying the left side: Michael Oher was Snead's bodyguard from his left tackle position last season, but Oher is now counting his money after being selected in the first round of the draft. Bradley Sowell, who played some at tight end last season, had an up-and-down spring. But he enters the fall as the Rebels' starting left tackle. Top signee Bobbie Massie arrives this summer.

Is Patterson the real deal? If signee Patrick Patterson is as good as he looks on tape, then Snead is really going to have a big time slinging the ball around next season. Patterson has the size and speed everybody's looking for in a receiver. We'll see in the fall if he also has the maturity and focus to play as a freshman in this league.

Florida's kicking game remains the class of the SEC

April, 23, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

I got a question the other day that's usually ignored until somebody has to line up to kick a game-winning field goal or somebody gives up a punt return for a touchdown that completely changes the complexion of a game.

Who has the best kicking game in the SEC?

Once again, that would be Florida, which also happens to have the best team. As long as Urban Meyer's around, you can bet that special teams are going to be pretty special in Gainesville.

The Gators have both place-kicker Jonathan Phillips and punter Chas Henry coming back. Phillips thought he was done last season, but received a medical redshirt for missing most of the 2007 season. He was 12-of-13 on field goals a year ago.

But what makes Florida so strong in the kicking game is its return team and its penchant for blocking kicks. Brandon James is one of the most dangerous return specialists in the country. He missed the spring, but should be 100 percent for the fall. He's returned four punts for touchdowns during his career.

And last season, the Gators blocked nine kicks -- five punts, three field goals and one extra point -- to tie the school record set in 1995.

The only real negative for the Gators is that they lost both their long-snapper and holder to graduation.

So maybe a better question is: Who has the second-best kicking game in the SEC?

The threat Javier Arenas poses in the return game certainly puts Alabama in the conversation, but place-kicker Leigh Tiffin has to be a lot more consistent than he was a year ago.

Ole Miss' Joshua Shene is the SEC's career active leader with 42 field goals and is one of those guys you want on the field if there's a pressure kick to be made. The Rebels also boast a contingent of explosive return specialists, including Brandon Bolden, Dexter McCluster and Marshay Green.

Georgia's return game is solid, but the Bulldogs are losing Brian Mimbs, one of the best punters in school history. Drew Butler is taking over for Mimbs. Georgia has 13 special teams touchdowns and a safety in the last eight seasons under Mark Richt.

With John L. Smith joining Arkansas' staff as special teams coordinator, the Hogs are a good bet to have the most-improved kicking game in the league. Dennis Johnson and Jarius Wright are more than capable in the return game, but place-kicker Alex Tejada needs to recover from a rough season and the Hogs also have to find a new punter.

1Q update: Alabama 7, Ole Miss 3

October, 18, 2008

Posted by's Chris Low

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The streak is over.

Somebody finally scored against No. 2-ranked Alabama in the first quarter, but the Crimson Tide never really flinched and charged into the second quarter Saturday with a 7-3 lead over Ole Miss.

The Rebels got a 26-yard field goal from Joshua Shene with 5:25 to play, the first points Alabama has allowed in the first quarter all season. Up until that point, the Crimson Tide had outscored their opponents 88-0 in the first quarter.

Alabama wasn't especially sharp in the first quarter, but made a couple of huge plays. The biggest was cornerback Kareem Jackson chasing down Ole Miss freshman tailback Enrique Davis when it looked like Davis was going to score on a long touchdown.

But Jackson never gave up on the play and caught Davis at the Alabama 8 on the tail end of a 62-yard run. The Rebels went backward from there and had to settle for the field goal.

The Crimson Tide's passing game clicked nicely on their scoring drive, as freshman Julio Jones is off to a big start. John Parker Wilson, after being sacked by Greg Hardy on the opening possession of the game, has had more time to throw ever since. He hit freshman Marquis Maze in stride with a 26-yard touchdown pass.

The most entertaining part of that play was Nick Saban absolutely unloading on Maze as he came back to the sideline. Maze was hit with a 15-yard celebration penalty after scoring the touchdown and immediately felt the wrath of Saban.

Ole Miss' Hardy has been quiet after recording his sack during the game's first possession.