The Lane Train’s coming to town!
aFor the first time since 2013, Georgia Tech and Ole Miss will be playing against each other. Though Tech lost that game, I remember a lot of the marketing around that game, specifically the Georgia Tech-branded stormtroopers. Both teams are now a lot different, with Lane Kiffin running the Admiral Ackbars and Geoff Collins running the Yellow Jackets.
Last season, Ole Miss was pretty successful, going 10-3 and finishing second in the SEC West behind Bama. Looking through their schedule from last year, they were a bit of an anomaly. They would go out and beat a team like Texas A&M by double digits but also give up more points to Arkansas than they gave up to Bama. Their season ended in the Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Baylor 21-7.
QB Matt Corral
The biggest loss for Ole Miss comes in Matt Corral, who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the draft this past year. Corral finished in the Top 10 of Heisman voting last season. Stats-wise, he was very efficient, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 3,349 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just five interceptions.
WR Dontario Drummond
Ole Miss also loses Corral’s favorite target last year: Dontario Drummond, who was an UDFA picked up by the Cowboys. He caught 76 passes for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns. For comparison, the next best receiver (in yards) caught 24 passes for 549 yards.
DE Sam Williams
Rounding out the notable losses for Ole Miss is EDGE Sam Williams, who led the way with 12.5 sacks last season. He also forced four fumbles.
OL Nick Broeker
Ole Miss’s offensive line was not great last season, but Nick Broeker was the best of the bunch and is set to return this season. He was a third/fourth team All-American last year, and I have seen him graded as high as a second round draft pick.
DE Cedrick Johnson
Though Williams is gone, Ole Miss does return its second-leading sacker Cedrick Johnson, who accounted for 6.5 sacks. He (and the newcomers at edge) will be relied on to make up for Williams’ departure.
S Otis Reese and AJ Finley
Most notably, Ole Miss returns their safety duo Otis Reese and AJ Finley. They accounted for 90 tackles each last season with three picks and six pass break-ups between them.
QB Jaxson Dart
Ole Miss played the transfer portal very hard this offseason, adding 12 new players. One of the headliners from that group is former USC quarterback Jaxson Dart, who is expected to be the starter. As a true freshman last season, Dart appeared in six games for the Trojans, completing a touch over 60 percent of his passes for 1,353 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions.
RBs Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley
Though Ole Miss didn’t really run the ball much last season, their transfer portal additions indicate they will be running it much more this season. They add both Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley. If you pay any attention to recruiting, I’m sure you know who Evans is. He’s a former five-star TCU player who had a very loud recruitment. Between his two seasons at TCU, Evans rushed for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. Bentley comes to Ole Miss from SMU. Last season for the Mustangs, Bentley rushed for 913 yards and 11 touchdowns.
DE Jared Ivey
I’m sure you all need no introduction here. Ivey is one of a couple pass rushers that Ole Miss added. Ivey, of course, comes from Georgia Tech where he was Tech’s brightest star at Edge, though the stats didn’t show it (he had just 1.5 sacks last year). It will likely be a bittersweet reunion for Ivey coming back to the Flats.
Interestingly enough, this is a very different Ole Miss team from even last season. With a ton of new Transfer Portal additions in line to start, it’s tough to say what we will see from them this season. One are Tech will absolutely need to exploit is the offensive line. Outside of Broeker, the offensive line performed poorly last season. And with a young quarterback, it is important to try to rattle him. It will be early in the season for both teams, so it also makes sense that Ole Miss’s new additions will still be in the process of gelling in their new roles.
If Georgia Tech does truly come out as a reinvigorated team this season, I think this game is winnable. It’s at home. Ole Miss will be breaking in a lot of new, young players. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to bet on that for Tech this season. For now, I will say that Ole Miss will probably win this game, but until the week of, I’m not ready to give a score prediction.
How do you see Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech playing out?