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Countdown to kickoff: Hello, Ole Miss

8/16/2012

GeauxTigerNation writers Gary Laney and David Helman get you ready for the season with a daily breakdown throughout August of what LSU is facing in the fall, from its opponents, to its road trips to who it's recruiting. Today, Gary Laney asked the questions in a Q&A with Hugh Kellenberger, who covers Ole Miss for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. For more with Kellenberger, see the GTN Chute:

Q: Hugh Freeze has engineered quick turnarounds coaching at the NAIA level and in the Sun Belt Conference for Arkansas State. Has he hit bitten off more than he can chew this time with Ole Miss?

He's inheriting a team that is probably similar in talent as compared to his opposition as he has at Lambuth and Arkansas State, but he also didn't face Nick Saban or Les Miles at either of those stops. That's probably his biggest challenge to making another quick turnaround.

There's little reason to doubt that he is convincing his first Ole Miss team to believe in itself, and he may even get it to play over its head (which is, really, what he did previously). But how does that translate to wins against the very best?

It probably doesn't, at least not in year 1.

Q: Like Texas A&M, Ole Miss has a new coach who likes an up-tempo spread offense, but doesn't have an experienced QB to run the offense. Will Freeze have to compromise the spread to help his young QBs develop?


We're likely to only see about half of what this offense can do in year 1. Ole Miss installed about 50 percent of the playbook during the spring, with middling success.

After just a few days this August, Freeze decided to hold off on installing anything else in order to get the quarterbacks good at doing something. I imagine what we'll see is very base package stuff, and try to use matchups (tight ends lined up in the slot, putting players in motion) to give it complexity.

Q: Houston Nutt was given a lot of grief for recruiting failures before his departure. Did he leave Freeze with any particular area where the Rebels have high-end talent by SEC standards?

I'd say either wide receiver or defensive back, but the latter stands out. Charles Sawyer, who will play safety but is also probably the team's best corner, was a preseason third-team All-SEC pick and a team leader. Wesley Pendleton has had a fantastic offseason and looks ready to be a No. 1 corner in the SEC, and sophomore Senquez Golson is a natural athlete with good instincts in coverage.

It's still a young group, with probably four players making their college debuts week 1. But you can see it being the strength of this team at the same time.