Featured

The offensive and defensive X-factors for Ole Miss in 2016

Issac Gross vs. Arkansas in 2014
BETH HALL/USA TODAY SPORTS

The definition of an “X-factor,” says Merriam-Webster (you know, the dictionary people), is “a circumstance, quality or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.” When it comes to football, then, think of an “X-factor” as a player who could make – or break – an offense or a defense.

Here are Ole Miss’ X-factors this season.

Offense

RB Eric Swinney: Ole Miss knows what it has in Akeem Judd; the bigger question among the running backs is Swinney (5 feet 9, 210 pounds), a redshirt freshman from the Atlanta area. Ole Miss has relied heavily on its passing attack under Freeze, and many observers believe Swinney could be the back Rebels coaches – and fans – have yearned for. Swinney missed last season with a stress fracture, then had a strong spring. He has good speed and big-play ability, yet is comfortable running between the tackles. "we can be the best running back group in the country," he said. "I'm here for whatever the team needs me to do."

Defense

DT Issac Gross: Gross (6-1, 263) suffered a neck injury in the opener against UT Martin and was lost for the season. He's healthy now and should be a team leader, both physically and emotionally. He's small but quick, and does a nice job compensating for his lack of bulk with technique and instincts. His best season came as a sophomore in 2013, when he had 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He should be part of an effective tackle rotation. Yes, the Rebels will miss Robert Nkemdiche, but Gross' return is a big boost as Ole Miss attempts to replace Nkemdiche. Pass-rushing E Marquis Haynes is a given; if Gross can be disruptive in the middle, Ole Miss' line will wreak havoc.

RELATED: Ole Miss season preview: Can Rebels again increase win total?
RELATED: How many Rebels made the GN preseason All-SEC team?

(You can follow Brad Logan on Twitter @BradLoganCOTE)

© 2016, Brad Logan. All rights reserved.

© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
To Top
OLE MISS NEWSLETTER

Get The Latest Ole Miss News!

Our Ole Miss insiders have long-established Rebel connections. You will get the latest news delivered to your inbox once a week...no spam and no giving your information to any third-party.