2018 Ole Miss Projections on the Hour Glass
The last year has brought plenty of change for the Ole Miss football program. Surprisingly, though, the outlook and questions surrounding the team’s potential on the field this fall are the same they were this time last year. As of this writing, the Rebels will again be held from a bowl at season’s end. Matt Luke will again enter the season as the head coach, though that wasn’t true at this time last year. And, again the roster has the makings of a team that should be dangerous on offense, but suspect on defense.
No one is quite as high this offseason on Jordan Ta’amu, as most were last offseason about Shea Patterson, but the Rebels should still be fine at QB1. In fact, the Hawaiian native comes in with an Hour Glass QB stamp of 9.5, which ranks 8th in the SEC (just .2 behind Jake Bentley for 7th) but 31st in the Power 5 conferences. And that’s on the heels of playing in just eight games last season, while slinging for 1,682 yards and 11 scores. Ta’amu was able to take advantage of the Rebel’s high-flying, uber-talented receiver corps last season by torching defenses for nearly 15 yards per completion, but he was also accurate, completing 66.5% of his passes.
Speaking of those pass catchers. The trio of AJ Brown, Demarkus Lodge and DK Metcalf is a good place to start, as they combined for 155 receptions for 2,596 yards and 25 touchdowns. Metcalf has drawn comparisons, at least based on his body build and athleticism, to former NFL great Calvin Johnson. And Lodge was once a five-star prospect who brings experience as he will be a senior this fall. But it would be unfair not to single out Brown, who caught 75 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 scores. The Starkville, Miss. native showed strength, speed, agility and all the qualities of a potential first round draft pick at his position.
With that said, the most important factors for Ole Miss this season could come be whether mostly the same cast along the offensive line improves, if the tight end position helps out more in the passing game and if a stable of guys can replace a 1,000-yard rusher in Jordan Wilkins from last season.
The defense has even more unanswered questions than that. Last year most concerns were aimed at the linebacker position. This offseason the Rebels face questions at all three levels. Marquis Haynes and Breeland Speaks were the bright spots of the defensive line last fall, GONE. Demarquis Gates, the team’s leading tackler in 2017, was a stud linebacker for a thin unit, GONE. Most faces from the secondary return, but that was a group that struggled to slow teams through the air or make tackles on the back end of plays. Second year defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff must find playmakers at all three levels, though he might have one to build around up front in defensive tackle Benito Jones.
HG analytics pick: 6-6, 5th in SEC West
My pick: 6-6, 5th in SEC West
Last Year’s Analytics Pick 6-6; Actual Record 6-6 (100 percent accuracy)
2018 Ole Miss Analytics –
Hour Glass National Recruiting Ranking: 26th – Inside our Realistic College Football Playoff Bust Line on our talent index.
National Coaching Rank for Matt Luke on HG Scale: 45th (Luke Stamp at -2) – Average coaching value for 2018 set at 3.75.
Returning Ole Miss quarterback play rated 57th in the country out of 130 teams. Average quarterback stamp nationally for 2018 is 8.3. Ole Miss has a stamp of 9.5.