Today we review the second team in the SEC, the University of Mississippi Rebels. Other reviews so far:

Kentucky

Biggest Loss

 When you only beat one FBS school, it’s hard to say anyone is a big loss, but even moreso for the Rebs. Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis both entered the season expecting big things and limped through the back eleven after both managed to injure ankles against BYU in the first game of the year. It wasn’t much better on defense. Preseason defensive MVP Kentrell Lockett was back for his sixth season hoping to vindicate a 2010 that was cut short by injury. He failed to have the impact Rebels fans hoped he would. The biggest loss is RT Bobby Massie. The offensive line was terrible, giving up the third most sacks in the league and rushing for a dismal 129 yards per game. Still, replacing two tackles while trying to implement a new offense is a difficult position to be in, and Massie was the better of the two tackles.

Most Important Returning Player

The pickings are slim, but there is the occasional gem on this roster. I’m going with Donte Moncrief. The gifted wide receiver will be relied upon to provide a little stability to a passing game that doesn’t have a starting QB yet.

Highest Ranked Recruit

Ole Miss stayed close to home to snag their highest ranked recruit, Magnolia State native Channing Ward.  The four star defensive end had offers from practically the entire SEC and should compete immediately for playing time on a defensive front that ranked dead last in the SEC in rushing yards allowed and sacks and must replace it’s two most productive players.

Most Important Off-Season Acquisition

Perhaps this seems like an obvious choice, but the biggest acquisition was at head coach. Though Coach Hugh Freeze‘s resume is a bit on the light side in terms of experience, what’s there is pretty impressive. In his first and only season at the helm of the Arkansas State Red Wolves, he managed to turn a 4-8 team into a conference-winning 10-3, becoming only the third Sun Belt team to go undefeated in league play. While the change in record is impressive, here is what makes it even more so: Freeze was the OC in 2010, when they went 4-8, and that offense set school records for offense. When he took over as head coach, not only did the offense get even better, but he dramatically improved the defense, going from 105th to 24th in the nation in total defense. He won’t be able to show that much immediate improvement at Ole Miss given the fact that they play in the SEC West, plus get Georgia on the Road and Texas in Oxford, but any growth in the quality of play — regardless of a change in record — should be welcome and Freeze appears to be one of the few good decisions Pete Boone made in his tenure as athletic director.

Biggest Game

Again, this may seem obvious, but it has to be Mississippi State. Almost since his first day in Starkville, Dan Mullen has made a point of poking the black bear, and to this point, he’s earned that right, having gone a perfect 3-0 against the Rebels. But here’s the thing:  he’s gone 0-12 against the rest of the SEC West. If Coach Freeze can take back just that one game, they can go 0-7 against the rest of the SEC and still be regarded as a success.

Projected Record

Central Arkansas – W

UTEP – W

Texas – L

@Tulane – W

@Alabama – L

Texas A&M – L

Auburn – L

@Arkansas – L

@Georgia – L

Vanderbilt – L

@LSU – L

Miss State – W

Final Record – 4-8