Archive for July, 2008

FOOTBALL: Trahan’s impact

July 31, 2008

Looks like Patrick Trahan has made the grades as expected, which is very good news for the Rebels. This guy has some pretty impressive credentials and looks like he has the ability to make big plays. There isn’t a lot of depth at linebacker, but add him to the mix, and it could be a pretty good group. Trahan falls into the August category of a guy with potential who hasn’t really done it consistently at the big-time level. (See Jevan Snead, Cordera Eason, Enrique Davis.) But if Trahan is the player many people believe he is, the linebackers could be a pretty solid group. Then the biggest remaining question for the defense is cornerback.

— PA

FYI: Grading the officials

July 31, 2008

The written test required of SEC officials creates a little anxiety, but by and large the scores are fine. The test is administered in-house.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Thoughts Part II

July 31, 2008

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.

— PA

FYI: Wednesday morning thoughts

July 30, 2008

— I posted the media relations release about the change in kickoff times for September home games Tuesday afternoon and in doing so was glad to end a streak of seven consecutive blog posts about Jerell Powe. I’m thinking that’s a blog record.

— Powe’s eligibility took on a new meaning when sophomore nose tackle Ted Laurent had arthroscopic knee surgery Monday. Laurent may only miss three weeks or so, but these are three very important weeks for a young player who appeared in only seven games last year. Laurent left spring drills as the No. 1 nose tackle ahead of Lawon Scott. It’s a reminder of how quickly a deep position becomes thinner.

— It’s strange to see Jermey Parnell’s bio in the football media guide. He’s got the Parnell hair going in the mug shot, then I’m thinking I’m going to turn the page and see Kenny Williams or somebody, but it’s football again. Parnell was very physical on the basketball court, and that will translate to the football field at some level, but there’s a difference in basketball “shape” and football “shape.” Parnell is also figuring in at defensive end, where the Rebels have a lot of players. He’s a good athlete, but I figure anything the Rebels get from Parnell this year is “bonus coverage.”

— Players report Saturday and Sunday, and practice starts Monday. It should be interesting to watch the running backs in the coming weeks. Keep an eye on Devin Thomas. I think he’s a darkhorse for playing time.

— Dexter McCluster is a junior this season, and if he plays in each game it will be the first time. The shoulder injury against Vanderbilt in 2006 ended his freshman season and kept him out of the first four games of his sophomore season. He’s an electric player when he’s at full strength, and he’ll be fun to watch in the “Wild Rebel” formation. Maybe McCluster can stay on the field.

— PA

FYI: When coaches, Hollywood intersect

July 30, 2008

Wally Hall, of Little Rock, has an interesting read here as he plugs SEC coaches into TV and movie roles.

— PA

FOOTBALL: September home kickoffs moved back

July 29, 2008

This from Ole Miss Media Relations.

— PA

OXFORD — Due to expected high temperatures, Ole Miss is announcing a 6 p.m. CST kickoff for the Aug. 30 opener against Memphis and any non-television September home games this season, including the Sept. 13 meeting with Samford.

The Vanderbilt game on Sept. 20 is tentatively set for 6 p.m., pending the announcement of the SEC TV schedule for that week.

“The heat factor played a major role in this decision,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone. “We have experienced exceptionally hot weather in Oxford this summer, and we hope to provide as much relief as possible for our fans in the early-season games.”

FOOTBALL: Deserve an interview?

July 29, 2008

I had to roll my eyes at Jerrell Powe’s statement yesterday. I’ve heard this line of thinking before, but it’s so misguided.

Powe, in a statement released by the school’s media relations office, says he doesn’t “deserve to give interviews yet,” because he hasn’t proven himself on the field or in the classroom.

The statement goes on to say that other Ole Miss players are “more deserving” of media “time and interest,” because they have in fact proven themselves.

Exactly what is the criteria for “deserving” an interview. It’s really not very complicated, and it’s actually a long way from whatever athletic accomplishments one might achieve.

The qualifications for an interview are simple. Do something that creates reader interest. We’re trying to take care of our customers, and when we discern stories and people that interest them, we head in that direction.

An interview is not an honor and privilege as to “deserve an interview” as the statement suggests.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Powe for print

July 29, 2008

Here’s our take on Powe from the print edition. The story got good play in SEC quarters, but the wire version was also picked up the the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times.

— PA

FOOTBALL: Powe’s in … Now what?

July 28, 2008

I celebrate today’s announcement, because I think I may have an August without the need for quotes from attorneys and the NCAA.

But what does the announcement mean for Ole Miss football. Now that Jerrell Powe is officially a part of Ole Miss football, how does it impact the 2008 Rebels?

— PA

FOOTBALL: Powe’s statement

July 28, 2008

The following comes from Jerrell Powe by way of Ole Miss Media Relations.

— PA

“I am deeply grateful to Ole Miss and to the SEC for the opportunity to be admitted here and to prove that I can succeed academically and on the football field. I have always had faith and a plan and both are beginning to show results.

“Through God’s help and help from Ole Miss professors, counselors and coaches, I have successfully completed my first year of school at Ole Miss. However, my journey is just beginning. I have to continue to work hard in the classroom, and I still must prove myself on the football field in the SEC.

“Therefore, I have decided that I don’t deserve to give interviews yet, and that I will not give any interviews until such time as I have proven myself both in the classroom and on the football field. The teachers and the coaches will make that decision for me.

“Thank you for your interest in me. However, there are other Ole Miss student-athletes who are more deserving of your time and interest since they have already proven themselves.

“Thank you and God bless … Jerrell Powe #57″