The Crimson Tide will welcome Houston Nutt and the Ole Miss Rebels to Bryant Denny on October 16. Last year the Rebels ended the season third place in the SEC West with a SEC record of 4-4. Overall they finished with a record of 9-4 including a 21-7 Cotton Bowl Victory over Oklahoma State. However, much like the Florida Gators, the Rebels will be replacing their quarterback in Jevan Snead, who was 5th in the SEC last year in total offense for a quarterback with 2,632 yards.
Snead will not be the only weapon they will have to replace on offense. They will also have to replace wide receiver Shay Hodge who lead the SEC last year in receptions and receiving yards per game, and Dexter McCluster, who led the team in rushing and was one of the most explosive and entertaining players to watch on the field.
Taking the reins at quarterback will be sophomore Nathan Stanley. Stanley did see some playing time last year, throwing for 163 yards and a touchdown on 11 completions. He did however end the season with one interception to his credit and a lower quarterback rating than Dexter McCluster. He will however have some big receivers to throw to this fall in Markeith Summers and Brandon Bolden, both who were in the top five in receivers on the team a year ago. Taking over for the graduating McCluster is Rodney Scott, a sophomore who had only 138 yards rushing on 35 attempts and two touchdowns. Though young, Scott will look to make the most out of his carries and carry the rushing offense on his young shoulders.
On the defensive side of the ball we will see much of the same from last year, especially up front. The Rebel defense returns six of their front seven from a year ago. While not much will change, look for them to add to their work from last year. Last season the Ole Miss defense was fourth in both Total Defense and scoring defense in the SEC. The real question mark will be the secondary with only one returning starter in safety Johnny Brown. The Rebels will have to look for some young talent to fill the gaps, especially at corner back which is never good in the SEC with the talent of wide receivers in the league.
While Ole Miss will be no walk in the park for Alabama, they have always played the Tide tough. However, the Rebels will have to answer some questions both on the offensive line and defensive secondary. With the talent on the Tide’s defensive front, it may be a long day for Stanley and the Rebel offense. On defense, this may be one of the better games to watch the battle in the trenches between to the line units. Depending on how well the Tide can run the ball, that will dictate the need to pass. However, look for Greg McElroy to call some big plays to pick at the young secondary.