Summer Scouting is a daily weekday post analyzing LSU football’s 12 opponents for the 2015 season. From McNeese State (June 29) to Texas A&M (July 11), we’ll give you an early scouting report on the one dozen teams on LSU’s schedule.
When: TBA, Nov. 21
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi
Early spread: PK
Who’s before and after: Arkansas and Texas A&M
Ole Miss at a glance
Coach (year): Hugh Freeze (4th)
2014 record: 9-4 (5-3, 3rd SEC West)
2014 postseason: Lost Peach Bowl, 42-3, vs. TCU
Returning starters: 16 (9 offense, 7 defense)
Preseason prediction: 11th nationally, 3rd SEC West
Quarterbacks: Chad Kelly, the No. 1-ranked junior college quarterback this past year, picked Ole Miss among a host of possible suitors that included, at least briefly, LSU. But he didn’t emerge from spring practice as the Rebels’ No. 1 QB. That went to redshirt sophomore Ryan Buchanan, a former four-star recruit out of Jackson. Buchanan and Kelly are in a neck-in-neck slug fest for the starting job. “I go back and forth,” Freeze said of the battle after spring.
DT Robert Nkemdiche: The nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 2013, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior hasn’t necessarily produced incredible stats, but he’s a destructive force for the Rebels. A likely first or second round draft pick next year, Nkemdiche had just 33 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks last season. He might need to be more productive statistically with the Rebels replacing all three starting linebackers from last season. Ole Miss moved DE C.J. Johnson to middle linebacker in the spring.
Running back: Few SEC teams struggle in this area, but Ole Miss is one of them. The Rebels ran for 155 yards a game last season, 73rd nationally and 10th in the league. It didn’t help that the Rebels allowed 31 sacks, 12th in the league. They didn’t break the 100-yard rushing mark in four games last season, including a nine-yard game in a blowout loss to TCU in the Peach Bowl. The positives? Ole Miss returns all five starting offensive linemen from 2014 and leading rusher Jaylon Walton (106 carries, 586 yards). They’ve also added the No. 1-ranked junior college running back in Akeem Judd.
Previous posts and coming posts
Monday: McNeese State
Tuesday: Mississippi State
Friday: Eastern Michigan
Saturday: South Carolina
Tuesday: Western Kentucky
Friday: Ole Miss
Saturday: Texas A&M