Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is an absolute offensive genius, and he’s quickly turning the Rebel offense into one of college football’s “greatest shows on turf.”
If the Rebels are to chase 10 wins in 2013, though, offense production must increase even more.
Coming in as the No. 9 key to a 10-win campaign is “enhanced offensive production.”
From the day he was hired at Ole Miss (December 5, 2011), Freeze made clear the type of offensive philosophy and style he would bring to Oxford:
That fast style fits my personality. That is all I know to be. If you aren’t yourself as a coach you are hampering your abilities and chances of competing. My personality is kind of like basketball on grass. I think it is an advantage for teams that may play in a league like this that don’t see that kind of offense all the time. I know that it limits exactly what a defense can call. I am not suggesting that defenses can defend it, but it has been very successful for us. We will go very fast. We have three speeds and we like to go the fastest a lot. We need a lot of receivers to catch balls and quarterbacks and running backs to get a lot of touches.
Granted the offense didn’t run as quickly or efficiently as he would’ve liked in year one, there was a monumental improvement in the Ole Miss offense from 2011 (Houston Nutt) to 2012 (Freeze).
In fact, Freeze did the exact same thing at Arkansas State when he joined the Red Wolves as offensive coordinator in 2010. Statistically speaking, team offensive numbers both before Freeze and during Freeze’s first year at each school were quite similar.
In comparing the two boxes of statistics above, there were greater percentage increases across all categories under Freeze at Ole Miss than there were at Arkansas State. However, there’s a reason.
If you take a look at the actual yardage and point production the year before he joined each program, the Ole Miss offense was in significantly worse shape than the Arkansas State offense that Freeze inherited as OC in 2010.
However, the bottom line is that Freeze pumped new life into the offenses at both schools.
To take things a step further, let’s consider what type of improvements Freeze made from year one to year two (offensive coordinator to head coach) at Arkansas State.
While there were more modest percentage increases across the board during his sophomore campaign with the Red Wolves, there was still a consistent 10.5-to-13.5-percent increase.
The offensive numbers at Ole Miss were actually higher in year one with Freeze than they were at Arkansas State, but you must consider that the talent pool in Oxford this season will be much greater than it was with the Red Wolves in year two.
Not only does QB Bo Wallace return this season, but so does RB Jeff Scott and five of the Rebels’ top-six leading receivers from 2012 (including breakout star WR DonteMoncrief).
With the expectation that returning players like RBs I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, WR Cody Core along with newcomers like RB Mark Dodson and WRs Laquon Treadwelland Quadarias Mireles will make new contributions this fall, the Rebels will simply be loaded.
All of this is without even mentioning the hope that a couple of legitimate tight end options emerge from summer camp. If consistent tight end production is added to the equation, then the sky will literally become the limit for the Ole Miss offense.
Putting it all together, the Rebels should see similar (if not greater) increases in offensive production in 2013 that the good folks in Jonesboro witnessed during Freeze’s sophomore campaign.
Projecting Ole Miss offensive production this fall based upon the same levels of production that occurred under Freeze during his second year with the Red Wolves, here’s what Rebel fans can expect in 2013:
Taking a closer look at the 2013 projections, total offense should increase by an estimated 42 yards per game and scoring offense by nearly four points per game. That’s the most important number: four more points per contest.
It may not seem like a lot, but think back to last season. The Rebels lost to Texas A&M by three, Vanderbilt by one and LSU by six. The average point difference among these three defeats was 3.3 points per game.
With projected offensive point production projected to increase by 3.7 points per game this year, it’s safe to assume the Rebels will find themselves on top in some close contests this fall. That’s absolutely huge to a team looking to take the collective next step towards greatness.
If the Rebels average near 500 yards of offense per contest and 35 points per game in 2013, Rebel Nation will be smiling. Get ready to smile, folks. — Seph Anderson, Sportswriter to The South, covers timely Ole Miss, SEC, & national news from the sports world. @SephAnderson