Three questions as Mississippi heads into SEC Media Days. The Rebels will be in their first season with Matt Luke in his first season without the interim head coach tag. This past fall, Ole Miss finished the 2017 season on a bit of a roll, winding up 6-6 and winning the Egg Bowl over Mississippi State.
1. Will the defense improve?
If Ole Miss hopes to have any semblance of success, it must. Last fall, under defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff, the Rebel defense finished 114th nationally. If you’re counting, there are only 130 teams in the FBS.
Furthermore, the Rebels gave up 243.5 yards rushing per game, finishing 124th in the nation. It’s simply impossible to have any stable success giving up that amount of yardage.
The ineptness of Hugh Freeze recruiting on the defensive side of the ball is painfully evident and will be surely felt when Ole Miss stares down the gauntlet of the SEC.
2. Who will step up at running back?
With D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown all, but locked in as first round draft choices at wide receivers, offensive line seemingly on solid ground and senior quarterback Jordan Ta’amu aiming for a record-breaking season, running back is the only mystery on offense. Running backs coach Derrick Nix will be looking for a few of his running backs to take the next step.
Both D’Vaughn Pennamon and Eric Swinney could be in the mix, but both are coming off of knee injuries. Ole Miss recently released its latest two-deep depth chart and Pennemon wasn’t listed.
Following the graduation of leading rusher Jordan Wilkins, the next highest rusher is Jordan Ta’amu.
Junior college transfer Scottie Phillips received the bulk of the carries in the spring and will have the first shot. The wild card could be Armani Linton. The senior was moved from the defensive side of the ball and was an incredible running back in high school, prepping at Walnut High.
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.