OXFORD – We know what Ole Miss football will do on the first day of 2022. After that, there are a lot of questions.
In almost every way, 2021 has been a smash success for Ole Miss. The year opened with a victory on January 1 over Indiana in the Outback Bowl, forerunner of a 10-2 season, a top 10 and a place in the Sugar 2022. Bowl the 1st January.
But the team formed by Ole Miss in New Orleans (7:45 p.m., ESPN) will be drastically different from the squad that adjusts on September 3 when the Rebels open their 2022 season against Troy.
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To celebrate the new year ahead, here are 22 questions for Ole Miss football in 2022.
1. Who will play the quarterback?
Matt Corral is not coming back. Is this Luke Altmyer? Is this someone from the transfer portal? Someone has to do it.
2. Where will Corral be written?
Many Ole Miss fans have spent the past two decades supporting the New York Giants because of Eli Manning. Will Corral influence a new generation of Mississippi NFL fans?
3. Is John Rhys Plumlee still a receiver?
He started as quarterback in 2019. He was a replacement in 2020. He was receiver in 2021. Does he have a chance to take over the QB position now that Corral is leaving, or is he using another offseason to refine his capture of skill passes?
4. Will the entire year be spent wooing Arch Manning?
I can answer this now: yes. He’s the best quarterback and overall prospect in the class of 2023. He’s considering Ole Miss. And his last name is Manning. The biggest question of the year is whether he makes the same choice as his grandfather, father and uncle.
5. Will Lane Kiffin call the games?
Ole Miss loses offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Will his replacement call play, or will Kiffin return to one of his strengths without Lebby to lean on?
6. Back or back by committee?
Jerrion Ealy, Snoop Conner and Henry Parrish are going their separate ways this year. Will a feature film stand out next season, or will it be another year of attacking defenses with variety?
7. Will there be a receiver depth?
Braylon Sanders, Dontario Drummond and Jahcour Pearson will be gone. Are the young players going to step up or is it going to be a slim year as receiver?
8. How does the tackle room shake?
Left tackle Nick Broeker could turn pro. If he’s gone, is Jeremy James going from the right? Does a newcomer slip into it? Are the rebels trying to find a protector from the blind side in the portal?
9. How many portals do you add to attacking play?
In 2021, Ole Miss was all about the defensive transfer portal players. In 2022, these could be offenses. The Rebels may need help at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and offensive line. How new is the offense and how long does it take for chemistry to manifest?
10. Is 3-2-6 here to stay?
Ole Miss adopted a 3-2-6 pattern for 2021 and he quickly turned the rebels from one of the country’s worst defenses into an above-average unit. Is Ole Miss sticking to that pattern, or are Kiffin and DJ Durkin going for something that fits the new roster better?
11. Can Cedric Johnson replace Sam Williams?
Sam Williams set Ole Miss’s single-season sack record in 2021. Another leading forward Cedric Johnson has also become a dominant role, but can he grow even taller to make up for Williams’ absence in 2022 ?
12. Will the top-rated defensive linemen finally step up?
Demon Clowney was Ole Miss’s top-rated rookie in 2020. Tywone Malone was the top-rated rookie in 2021. Neither defensive lineman has done much at Oxford. Will this be the year the talent is unlocked?
13. Will Chance Campbell be back?
The transfer from Maryland was Ole Miss’s best linebacker in 2021. He can come back last year if he wants to, but will the NFL Draft be too appealing for him after a huge season?
14. Will there be a youth movement among linebackers?
With or without Campbell, Ole Miss will still have to replace linebackers Mark Robinson, Lakia Henry and MoMo Sanogo. Will veterans Ashanti Cistrunk and Austin Keys step up their efforts, or will transfers from freshmen and junior colleges invigorate the room?
15. Who replaces Jake Springer?
Defense was different day and night with and without defenseman Jake Springer this season. Can anyone replicate his value now that he is leaving, or will there be a key figure missing from the system?
16. Who takes over at the cornerback?
Jaylon Jones and Deane Leonard are gone. Are some of the inside cornerbacks like Tysheem Johnson clashing on the outside or will the 2021 and 2022 Rebels defensive-back signatories be called up?
17. What will the stadium experience be like?
The Vaught-Hemingway stadium will be under renovation in 2022. How will the match experience be and how ready will the stadium be for September?
18. Do you expect a warm start?
The Rebels’ first six games are against Troy, Central Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Tulsa, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. It’s a good start. Is 5-1 or 6-0 realistic, or will this team have too much to do with so many replaced pieces?
19. How important is the week off before Alabama?
Ole Miss will have two weeks to prepare for Alabama this season. Having to play nine straight weeks before a pass will hurt, but will the extra rest and preparation mean a lot to the Rebels?
20. A turkey of the day?
Ole Miss has not won three Egg Bowls in a row since 2002-04. Can the rebels be successful on Thanksgiving Day in Oxford?
21. Is SEC West accessible?
It’s going to be hard. Alabama is still Alabama, but almost every other team will either have a new coach or a new quarterback. Can the Rebels overcome the hump on their first trip to the SEC Championship?
22. Is this the year Lane Kiffin wins?
Kiffin spent three years in Alabama. He spent three years at Florida Atlantic. As the third year at Oxford approaches, is the trend continuing? Is Kiffin ready to jump in after another good year or is he ready to prove he can stay in one place for the long haul?
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected]. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.