Hottytoddy.com is giving readers a roundup of all the commentary and information about the Ole Miss Rebels from various publications around the Web.
Readers will be able to check out the latest information in a single post every week throughout the season. Here at HottyToddy.com, we are doing all the leg work to find the information that people want to hear about Ole Miss sports.
This week, the roundup will consist of articles on the quarterbacks, offense, key position battles and a possible return of the powder blue uniforms.
Red Cup Rebellion Article
Ole Miss Football Preview 2015: Matt Luke’s last stand
Perhaps Hugh Freeze has done Matt Luke and the Ole Miss offensive line a disservice. Freeze has coached, recruited, repurposed, and redeveloped a ragtag roster into an SEC contender in three short years, while Luke’s offensive line has generally been credited with two late-season collapses. A running game that has produced 2nd-and-11 more often than 2nd-and-6, along with an unreliable pocket for Bo Wallace, has left many fans miffed at Matt Luke’s inability to mirror the miracles that Freeze has been performing elsewhere.
Of course, it’d be lying by omission to ignore some of the challenges Luke has faced. Laremy Tunsil has been injured at critical moments (Auburn 2014 and MSU 2013 come to mind), Austin Golson tucked tail and ran to Auburn under dubious circumstances, Aaron Morris has gone under the knife twice, and several offensive linemen developed weight issues while under the summer supervision of Paul Jackson. Even dating back to 2012, Luke lost his most talented returning lineman, Bobby Massie, to the draft. Offensive linemen already take longer to develop than arguably any other position group, so this string of bad luck has hit Luke’s unit especially hard.
Even with these caveats in mind, 2015 is very much a make-or-break year for Luke. With greater depth in place, an increased emphasis on downhill running by Freeze, and the top seven or so linemen from 2014 all returning, Luke will be expected to produce results sooner rather than later. And while there is experience, talent, and potential at each position, he still has his work cut out for him.
Let’s take a look at each position.
The offensive tackle position, though not as razor-thin as last year, is still lacking in experience and depth. While Laremy Tunsil is arguably the best linemen in all of college football, his right-side counterpart, Fahn Cooper, struggled at times, and behind Cooper were virtually no viable options. This year, one would hope that Cooper will benefit from the second-year bump that many JUCO players see. Apparently, coach reviews on Cooper are extremely positive heading into camp.
Ole Miss Rebels Position Battles
Our team-by-team look at position battles across the SEC continues today with Ole Miss. A look at three key battles to watch in training camp:
Quarterback: The Rebels entered training camp with a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job between Ryan Buchanan, Chad Kelly and DeVante Kincade. Buchanan got the reps with the first-team on the first day of camp but all three are getting turns. Kelly is the one pegged as the preseason favorite by outsiders, but coach Hugh Freeze floated the idea recently of not deciding on a starter until Ole Miss’ Week 3 game vs. Alabama. The Rebels open the season with home contests vs. Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State so there is room for them to experiment with different signal callers before the showdown in Tuscaloosa. It would be ideal if the Rebels decided on a starter early to help the offense establish continuity with the winner, but so far, there doesn’t seem to be much separation between the trio in camp.
Saturday Down South
Ole Miss Rebels 2015 Strength and Weakness
The strengths and weaknesses of any team can change throughout the course of a college football season. Health, weekly matchups and coaching can all factor into what teams excel at and where they are lacking.
Stopping the football is clearly the biggest strength in Oxford as the Rebels try to build upon 2014 when they finished 13th in the nation in total defense.
But on offense, health and quarterback play will determine where Ole Miss thrives and where it must improve. The Rebels best offensive lineman and wide receiver are coming back from gruesome leg injuries that they suffered late last season and coach Hugh Freeze has yet to definitively name a starting quarterback.
But when it’s all said and done, depth at virtually every position might be what helps Ole Miss finish this season with more strengths than weaknesses.
Here’s our look at the best and the worst of the Rebels entering the 2015 season.
Saturday Down South
2015 Ole Miss Rebels uniform update
Will we see a Nike alternate from the Rebels this season?
Probably not, but you know how these unexpected reveals catch fire once they’re hyped via social media.
Ole Miss last updated its uniforms prior to the 2013 season, going for a simplistic, somewhat traditional two-color look with wide shoulder stripes on jerseys.
RELATED: Ole Miss uniform history
Red, white and navy are the current jersey color options with grey, navy and white pants — fitting for a variety of combinations. (Thank goodness the all-grey alternate last worn during the 2010 campaign was shut down soon thereafter.)
Rebels Debute in Preseason AP Top 25
On Sunday, the Associated Press released the 2015 preseason AP Top 25 Poll. Ole Miss debuted at No. 17 in the poll with the reigning national champions Ohio State at No. 1. TCU, Alabama, Baylor and Michigan State round up the top five.
The SEC leads all other conferences with eight teams included in the top 25.
Below is the complete list of the preseason AP Top 25 Poll.
The Rebel Walk
Freshman GK Marnie Merritt doesn’t feel pressure replacing McCormick
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt doesn’t feel any pressure of replacing last year’s starting goalkeeper Kelly McCormick. Her performance says it all.
Merritt didn’t see any action for Ole Miss last season since more experienced players were in front of her, but she picked their brains for knowledge to prepare herself for an opportunity to start as the team’s goalkeeper.
“I don’t feel the pressure as much, because I am having fun. It’s just soccer,” the Huntersville, North Carolina native said to the media following the Ole Miss Rebels’ shutout win against Boise State.
After the 4-0 victory over the Broncos, Merritt broke out with her signature gesture, a smile. Thanks to the 10 starters from last season’s 8-6-5 team, Merritt has been able to fit in well with this year’s Ole Miss soccer team. When Merritt stepped onto the University of Mississippi campus in 2014, head coach Matthew Mott was hopeful Merritt would come in right away and play a significant role to an experienced group.
So far, Merritt hasn’t disappointed and she’s wasn’t afraid to step in behind McCormick, the defensive specialist who finished her career at the university as the all-time leader in multiple categories in goal, including the leading spot in career goalkeeping wins (42).
SEC school takes the cake with Georgia linebacker
Donta Evans, the recruit who is famous for announcing his college decision with cakes rather than baseball caps, talked about his recruiting after Archer High School’s season-opener.
Evans’ announcement that he was taking his talents to Ole Miss on Aug. 2, was done in one of the most unique ways we have ever seen. and involved delicious food. Luckily, Evans let us know the thought process behind his announcement.
“My aunt, she likes to do things big, man, so she was like ‘we should have a cake for all your top fives schools,’ so she went with it and I said ‘you know what? I’m just going to be the guy who says a few words and announce what school I’m going to and you get the party stuff ready, man.’”
Now that he has had time to reflect on his decision, however, does he still feel the same way?
“I’m still 100 percent Ole Miss, man,” Evans told the AJC. “I talked to coach Womack before the game, and coach Freeze and they were like ‘make sure you have a good game tonight, don’t get too serious, just fly around and have fun.’”
HottyToddy.com sports staff report