I was standing in one end zone corner in Columbia, S.C., in 2004 when Ethan Flatt threw the pass and Bill Flowers made the catch in the other end zone corner, the one near the Ole Miss bench.
The most significant part of that play was that it provided the winning points.
Now four years later it’s significant in other ways. The 31-28 win over South Carolina — the day in which Robert Lane played quarterback for the first time and the day that David Cutcliffe used three quarterbacks — is the last time that Ole Miss has beaten a ranked opponent.
The Rebels have since lost 14 straight against ranked opposition, some close, some not so close. Twelve of those were under the guidance of Ed Orgeron, who was 0-for-the-top-25.
That game was also the last time Ole Miss has scored 30 or more points against a Division I opponent.
Half of the SEC averaged more than 30 points last year.
The Rebels had their best offensive season of the Orgeron Era with 241 points scored and still finished last in the SEC and 104th in the nation in scoring offense at 20.1 points a game.
Orgeron constantly pointed to this season, with transfer quarterback Jevan Snead, as the one in which his team would turn the corner offensively. Half of that equation is true. I believe the Rebels will turn the corner offensivey, not only because of Snead but because of the players around him.
“Coach Nutt knows how to score points, and we have players who can put it in the end zone,” offensive tackle Michael Oher said.
It sure looks that way on paper.
The only warning flag is experience. Snead looks really good on paper. He looked really good in spring practice. Former Auburn coordinator Al Borges attended one practice and told Nutt afterward, “The quarterback gives you a chance.”
The only unknowns are Snead’s decision-making under duress and how he handles game-day speed. Those are important factors, but there’s a lot of reason to be excited about the possibilities for Ole Miss at quarterback. That hasn’t been the case since Eli Manning was in town.
On paper the running game looks really good, but Cordera Eason hasn’t done it in a game, and Enrique Davis is brand new to the program.
There is experience on the offensive line but also a new center and some shuffling going on.
I like the experience of receivers Shay Hodge and Mike Wallace and the possibilities of Lionel Breaux and Markeith Summers. I like the versatility of Dexter McCluster.
I can see this offense being one that surpasses 30 points more than once.
But I’m also eager to see it in a game situation, and that’s still a month away.