Can Ole Miss defense improve enough to allow offense to win games in 2018?

Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown

Alabama will open the 2018 season, as usual, ranked in the top five, if not No.1. Auburn and Mississippi State won’t be far behind in the polls. LSU has questions, but pedigree and Texas A&M has renewed energy under new head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Where does that leave an Ole Miss team which did better than expected in 2017 and which may finally have the worst of its NCAA drama in the rear view mirror?

Whatever success the Rebels have, it will likely be powered by one of the best receiver corps in the nation.

At Ole Miss, wide receiver is a position well-represented in the NFL. Currently, Quincy Adeboyejo, Donte Moncrief, Laquon Treadwell, and Cody Core are all in the league.

According to Mel Kiper, Jr., current Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown will soon join the ranks of professional Rebels. As of today, Brown is the top receiver in next year’s mock drafts and a Top-10 pick overall.
With good reason. He is the single-season Ole Miss record-holder in receiving yards with 1,252 and touchdown catches with 11.

Additionally, D.K. Metcalf finished the season with 39-receptions for 646 yards and seven scores. DaMarkus Lodge also returns with similar numbers, hauling in 41 catches for 698 yards.

The wild card this season for Ole Miss in the pass game could be tight end Dawson Knox. The former walk-on snagged 24 catches for 321 yards and is primed for a productive fall.

Ole Miss signed two highly-ranked recruits in Miles Battle from Houston, TX (Cypress Creek High) and Elijah Moore from Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas High) who will have an opportunity to contribute this season.

With an offense that finished 11th in the country in passing offense in 2017, offensive coordinator Phil Longo has to be excited about his crop of receivers.

While the Rebels figure to be able to put up points this fall, will they be able to prevent anyone from doing so?

One could surmise a defense that finished 115th out of 129 teams a season ago can’t help, but improve. Ole Miss has been especially atrocious at linebacker the last few seasons.

To Matt Luke’s credit, he hit the recruiting trail hard, signing one of the top junior college linebackers in the country in Vernon Dasher from Baxley, GA (Appling County High/Coffeyville CC).

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