HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Ole Miss finished 5-7 (1-7 in the SEC) including a 62-7 beatdown at the hands of Alabama in the 2018 season.
The Rebels will have to replace lots of talent on both sides of the ball including tackle Greg Little to the NFL Draft.
Ole Miss finished second to last in the SEC West and are projected to finish in a similar position this season, according to most experts.
Ole Miss’ biggest win in 2018 was arguably their opening day game against Texas A&M. There was little to cheer about after that.
Head coach Matt Luke is entering his third season and believes it’s all uphill from here for the Rebels considering the team’s two-year postseason ban has finally been lifted.
“We’ve had a very productive and a very busy offseason,” Luke said. “We were able to sign 31 guys in last year’s class…a top 25 class, and most importantly, it gets us back to that full number of 85 for the first time since 2014.”
The Rebels also added two former national coaches of the year to their staff in defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez.
Quarterback Matt Corral looks to take over the reins full time for the Rebels in 2019. Corral appeared in just four games last year throwing two touchdowns and one interception but is expecting a bigger year as the featured quarterback in 2019.
“I feel like a big part of it is just playing with confidence,” Corral said. “Just doing my job, doing what I need to do for the team, just being where I’m supposed to be.”
Although not a first, bringing an underclassman like Corral to Media Days was a surprising choice to some, but was an obvious one for Luke.
“His competitive fire and his competitive spirit, the players gravitated toward him,” Luke said. “I think he was thrust into a leadership role, and I really think he’s done a great job of competing and carrying himself the right way.”
Offensive lineman Alex Givens is the one Rebel getting national hype around as some experts think he could be an All-American this season, or better yet a top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Week in and week out, just going out there and grind it out,” Givens said. “Do everything you can to win that week, and don’t focus too much on the future. That’s probably the biggest thing.”
Givens played in all 12 games for Ole Miss last season.
Linebacker MoMo Sanogo was all over the field in 2018 racking up 112 tackles and will likely be one of the few bright spots on the defensive end as the Rebels finished in last place defensively a season ago.
Both Sanogo and Luke are confident the defense will improve tremendously.
“I think our work ethic this summer has been exceptional,” Sanogo said. “Especially compared to the last two summers I’ve been here. It has definitely been a culture change shifting more towards hard work.”
“I think when we take the field against Memphis, I think you’ll see a fundamentally sound defense,” Luke said. “They are lined up in the right spot. Their eyes are in the right spot.”
Ole Miss kicks off 2019 at Memphis August 31.