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MISSISSIPPI MAGAZINE 2011 Ole Miss/ Mississippi State Football Preview

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SEC Preview


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mississippi football magazine

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SEC PREVIEW

07 mississippi high school seniors............... 08 mississippi offense...................................... 12 chris relf....................................................... 18 mississippi state defense........................... 21 charles mitchell.......................................... 26 mississippi state depth chart................... 28 ole miss offense........................................... 34 brandon bolden............................................ 40 ole miss defense........................................... 42 kentrell lockett.......................................... 48 ole miss depth chart................................... 50 sec composite schedule............................. 54

Letter from the editor...............................

MISSISSIPPI FOOTBALL MAGAZINE Published by Legend Publishing Company Publisher: Wesley Wells Layout/Design: Fran Sherman Advertising Sales: Wesley Wells, Susan Speed Contributing Writers: Paul Jones, MSU; Parrish Alford, Ole Miss Photography: MSU Sports Information, Ole Miss Sports Information, shelby daniel on the cover: Ole miss RB brandon bolden and msu QB chris relf cover design by: tim wall

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Fall 2011


editor’spage Hello, Mississippi football fans. Another football season has finally arrived and I, like many of you, couldn’t be more excited. Thanks for picking up this year’s football edition. We made some changes to the magazine this year. We totally shifted our focus to the Ole Miss and Mississippi State programs. There are many more magazines out there that cover the SEC, so we wanted to utilize our pages with more coverage of our two area SEC schools. Mississippi State is coming off a 9-4 season, including a 52-14 trouncing of Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Dan Mullen has the fan base excited in Starkville and the Bulldogs hope to continue their

momentum in 2011. Ole Miss suffered a season opening upset to Jacksonville State last season and never recovered, en route to a 4-8 finish. Coach Houston Nutt brought in a stellar recruiting class and hopes to get things turned around quickly in Oxford. Again, thank you for picking up the magazine and please support our advertisers. They are the reason we are able to publish this magazine. Also, I know tailgating and having fun with friends and family are a big part of football, but please have a designated driver if you plan on drinking. We don’t want to lose a single one of you this football season. Best wishes to you and your team. Wesley Wells

SEC predictions SEC West Alabama (11-1, 7-1) Tide is loaded on the defensive side of ball. Could be best in the nation. LSU (9-3, 6-2) Solid across the board. Early season suspensions will hurt. Arkansas (9-3, 5-3) Plenty of tools around quarterback Tyler Wilson. Miss. State (8-4, 4-4) solid nucleus returns on offense. Underrated defensive front. Auburn (6-6, 3-5) Defending champs have too many holes to fill. Ole Miss (5-7, 2-6) Counting on freshmen to contribute early.

SEC east

2011-12 SEC Bowl Projections

Georgia (9-3, 6-2) SEC schedule works Bulldogs favor.

BCS-National Championship Game – Alabama vs. Boise State

South Carolina (9-3, 5-3) Holes to plug on defense. QB Garcia is still a wild card.

Capital One Bowl – LSU vs. Ohio State

Florida (8-4, 4-4) Plenty of talent at skill positions, but both lines are a concern. Tennessee (7-5, 3-5) Lack of experience at receiver and defensive line could prove costly. Kentucky (6-6, 2-6) Defense should be much improved, but lack skill players on offense. Vanderbilt (3-8, 1-7) Much improved even though record may not show it.

Outback Bowl – Georgia vs. Michigan State AT&T Cotton Bowl – Arkansas vs. Texas Chick-Fil-A Bowl – South Carolina vs. Virginia Tech Gator Bowl – Florida vs. Michigan Franklin American Music City Bowl – Miss State vs. Georgia Tech Autozone Liberty Bowl – Tennessee vs. Houston BBVA Compass Bowl – Auburn vs. Connecticut

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Our Top 10

Mississippi High School

W

ith each passing year, the Magnolia State produces its share of highly-touted prospects on the gridiron. And the Class of 2012 is no exception. College programs from all over the country have already focused on several senior prospects in the state of Mississippi this recruiting season, particularly along the defensive line. Here is a brief breakdown in what we consider the Top 10 prospects in the state for the Class of 2012: 1. DE Channing Ward, Aberdeen High School

It’s been many years since a defensive end in this state has exhibited the athletic ability possessed by Ward. Already owning an offer from nearly every SEC school and beyond, Ward has collected 130-plus tackles the last two season along with double-digit sack and tackles for loss totals. Last year Ward tried a new role at tight end and succeeded at that spot as well. Now standing 6-4 and nearly 250 pounds, Ward is considered a four-star prospect by every recruiting service and that status could rise as the season grows longer. Many believe Ward’s recruitment will feature an in-state battle between MSU and Ole Miss along with SEC West rivals LSU and Alabama. Predicted choice: Ole Miss

2. DT Quay Evans, Morton High School

When his motor is running at a high level, Evans is as dominant as anyone along the defensive line - in this state and in the Southeast region. Like Ward, Evans has numerous SEC offers as well as interest from Texas and Oregon. Evans has been one of the most talked-about recruits in the state since his sophomore season, also similar to Evans. In fact, Scout.com has Evans ranked as the nation’s top defensive tackle prospect for the Class of 2012. For several months now, the 6-foot-2 and 315-pound Evans has favored Mississippi State but also expect a strong push from Ole Miss and Alabama. Predicted choice: Mississippi State

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3. QB Anthony Alford, Petal High School

Strictly judging from an athletic perspective, there may not be a better one in the state this year than Alford. The dual-threat quarterback was the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and is also a top baseball prospect. LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are among the many schools pursuing Alford and those three schools have offered him the chance to play football and baseball at the next level. But considered a top prospect for the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, Alford may or may not ever play college football. Predicted choice: Pro Baseball

4. DT Nick James, Long Beach High School

Another talented defensive lineman this fall hails from the Coast region with 6-foot-5 and 330-pound James. He has already attracted his share of SEC offers and is one of the most intimidating figures in the trenches. Still considered raw in his techniques, there is no doubting his size and physical play along the defensive line. LSU, Alabama and in-state rivals Ole Miss and MSU have all offered among others with LSU and Alabama holding the edge. Predicted choice: Mississippi State commit


5. QB Jeremy Liggins, Lafayette County High School

At 6-4 and 260 pounds, Liggins is a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses in the Magnolia State. Not only has Liggins racked up the yardage through the air and on the ground, he’s also been a winner at the prep level. As a sophomore, Liggins led Lafayette County to the Class 4A title game and then helped the Commodores win that title last December. With Liggins back under center, no doubt Lafayette County will be heavily favored to win the title again. Liggins has offers from MSU, Ole Miss and Alabama among others as well as LSU. He wants to play quarterback at the college level but with his size, he could face a position change. Predicted choice: Ole Miss

6. LB Richie Brown, Long Beach High School

In a state noted for producing big-time linebackers, the 6-foot2 and 225-pound Brown could continue that trend. He holds offers from Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Stanford and other SEC schools will also likely get in the mix later down the road. As a sophomore, Brown led the state in tackles and he collected over 150 tackles last fall as a junior. Known for his quickness and his hard-nosed tackling, Brown should easily again be one of the top tacklers in the Magnolia State this fall. Predicted choice: LSU

7. OL Cordarrly Gaines, Provine High School

Finding physical and big offensive linemen is always a priority for college programs, and Gaines could be the best in the Magnolia State in this recruiting class. Gaines has the footwork to play tackle at the next level and could also make a move to guard, something he may do in his senior season. Gaines has options of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Tennessee among others and does have the trend of Provine products doing well in Starkville. Predicted choice: Mississippi State

8. WR D’Arthur Cowan, Olive Branch High School

Last year could easily be called the ‘year of the receiver’ in the Magnolia State concerning the senior prospects. While that type of depth is not evident this year, that doesn’t mean the quality is not there and Cowan is likely the best of the wideouts in the state. At 6-2 and 180, Cowan has displayed solid speed (4.5) and the ability to make the tough catches across the middle of the field. Cowan was one of the leading receivers in the Class 6A ranks a year ago and could take his talents to the SEC Western Division either to Mississippi State or Arkansas. Predicted choice: Arkansas commit

9. RB Xavier Grindle, East Marion High School

Despite playing at a small school, Grindle has proven the past two years that he has the speed and running ability to play at the next level. And he also comes from good bloodlines and is the cousin of former MSU standout Terrell Grindle. The 5-foot10 and 185-pound Grindle has rushed for over 1,000 yards the past two years and should make that three years straight in 2011. Holding offers from MSU and USM, Grindle could be the best tailback threat in the state this fall. Predicted choice: Mississippi State commit

10. DL Issac Gross, South Panola

In a year stacked full of defensive linemen, Gross ranks right up there with the best of the best. The 6-2, 250-pound Ole Miss commitment was a preseason Dandy Dozen selection by The Clarion Ledger and is very deserving. He owns the quickness to stay on the edge and the size to possibly play more inside at the next level. Predicted choice: Ole Miss Commit MFM

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davis wade stadijm

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Missississippi State PREVIEW offe n se

D

chris relf

uring the spring, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his offensive coaches saw many familiar faces on that side of the ball, particularly in the backfield. And that ever-growing depth at quarterback continued to take strides this spring.

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tyler russell

quarterback

Chris Relf is back under center for his senior year and held a firm grip on his starting job this spring. Last year, Relf displayed major improvements in the passing game while maintaining his threat to pick up yards on the ground. In 2010, Relf completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,789 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ranked second on the squad with 713 rushing yards and five touchdowns. But other signal callers also took a step forward this spring - redshirt sophomore Tyler Russell and redshirt freshman Dylan Favre. “The great thing is Chris Relf

was very, very efficient this spring in taking a step forward,” said Mullen. “(For Russell and Favre) the thought was ‘hey, you know what, I’m going to come in and beat Chris Relf out and find a way to do that.’” “I think that helped Chris pick his game up. I think that is where you saw a lot more consistency out of Chris, not just in his confidence, but that he’s looking over his shoulder and here comes two hungry guys that want his playing time. The second he puts it on cruise control he’s going to be out of a job. I think that helped all three of them to push each other in how they compete.”

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vick ballard

running backs

Senior running back Vick Ballard set a school record last year with 19 rushing touchdowns (led SEC, too) and had 968 rushing yards. LaDarius Perkins also finished strong in 2010, including the Egg Bowl, and was back to his big-play self this spring. The Bulldogs also feature more experience in senior Robert Elliott in the

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backfield and a new face in redshirt freshman Nick Griffin. After being a pleasant surprise early in spring, though, Griffin tore his ACL late in spring drills and is expected to miss the first month of the 2011 campaign.


wide receiver

TWhile those running backs remained steady this spring, it was the emergence of depth at receiver that caught Mullen’s eye. Veterans Chad Bumphis, Brandon Heavens and Chris Smith provided experience as expected. But sophomores Ricco Sanders and Michael Carr also made plays and looked more comfortable this time around. “With the receiver, there’s a little bit of depth there now and experience there,” said Mullen. “So you’re comfortable. I still don’t know if we have the go-to, play-making receiver. But I think we have multiple ones that are going to be comfortable in game situations.

“Then our young receivers came out, where Robert Johnson and Jameon Lewis got some catches and performed in the stadium in front of big crowds (at the spring game).” Staying with the passing game, experience is also a key at the tight end position although that leadership is pending a couple of injuries. Senior Marcus Green went through spring drills but was withheld from contact due to offseason knee surgery. Also isolated from contact this spring was senior Kendrick Cook. Mullen noted that both could have done more this spring but there was no reason to push it, and both are expected to be 100 percent in the fall.

Chad bumphis

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Offensive Line

While the Bulldogs exhibited proven leaders at certain spots, there were also new faces at a few positions this spring. “Throughout spring, one of the things you really see is how young a team we are once I take guys off the field,” said Mullen. “We go put our first-team offense, first-team defense on the field, it’s an experience unit that’s played a lot of football that we feel really good about. As I start pulling guys off the field you realize just how quickly we get young and inexperienced. That’s something we really need to monitor and continue to develop those young players to be ready to play next season.” That youth in the backups is evident on the offensive line. The Bulldogs return starting guards in Tobias Smith and Gabe Jackson as well as starting right tackle Addison Lawrence. MSU also returns senior Quentin Saulsberry, who started at guard last fall, but is moving to center this year to replace now-graduated J.C. Brignone. But also absent this spring was first round NFL draft choice,

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Derek Sherrod, the team’s starting left tackle the past three years. Senior James Carmon played defensive tackle last year but moved to left tackle this spring and battled redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell for first-team reps. “This spring we had Tobias and Gabe out,” said Mullen. “You take two returning starters out, the trickle-down effect becomes huge in that there is not a lot of experience with the backups. (Junior) Templeton Hardy got a lot of work with the 1’s, (redshirt freshman) Dillon Day got a lot of work with the 1’s. Those guys have not played a lot of football for us come game-day Saturdays. So they need to grow up fast. James Carmon and Blaine Clausell have not played left tackle in an SEC football game so they have to grow up fast. “But if we can stay healthy with the 1’s, then you start to feel good about your depth because they will get their time to slowly develop and not be forced to be the starter at the other positions.” MFM


quentin saulsberry

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ChrisRelf Big change for

B

ack during spring drills, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was asked of his initial impression of quarterback Chris Relf. Mullen had just taken the job and was meeting with each player individually..

Now nearly three years later and how things have changed! Relf began his college career as an afterthought on the depth chart but is now one of the top returning quarterbacks in the SEC as he enters his senior season. “Yeah, he didn’t say much of anything,” said Mullen of his first meeting with Relf. “He was a nice kid, talking to him. Did I think he could get here”? Boy, I don’t know, probably not. But I know I’ve had a lot of success developing quarterbacks. So, I never really judge whether they can or not (develop). It’s more of a judge on ourselves. Can we develop them? “I feel throughout my coaching career I’ve been known as a developer of quarterbacks, and so has (MSU offensive coordinator) Les (Koenning). To me, the great thing is you can develop all shapes and sizes of them.” And Relf comes in a big size, as in 6-3 and nearly 250 pounds. Last year, Relf started every game for the Bulldogs and was a key factor in the team’s 9-4 record and Gator Bowl victory. He passed for 1,789 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions and completed almost 60 percent of his passes. Always a threat on the ground, Relf also ranked second on the team with 713 rushing yards and five touchdowns. During the last three games of the season, Relf passed for more than 800 yards and displayed his new-found passing improvement, a process that actually started following the 2009 season. “I think I’ve progressed a lot,” said Relf. “I think I’ve come a long ways. I’ve been here five years and it was my last spring. Mainly, I’ve just tried to work on my footwork, staying in the pocket and delivering the ball this spring, and I think I did all of that. I got a lot done and I knew I had to work even harder after spring leading up to the season.” With his improvements also came new-found confidence in his game, and that carried over to his leadership qualities on and off the field. Not a player to be known as a strong vocal leader, Relf

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could be heard more often this spring, whether it be on the field or on the sidelines, cheering for his teammates or offering encouragement or even a little trash talk in the direction of the defense. “His confidence has really boosted a lot and that has been very helpful to him,” said Koenning. “When he first came in he wasn’t loaded with a lot of confidence. That is not saying anything bad against the other staff here. It was just that Relf was a young kid that has matured now. We’ve tailored some things for him in the offense and it’s been a good marriage. “The other part with Relf was just playing well in games and the teams he beat gave him a lot of confidence. And he likes that role of being a leader. Since we are usually a no-huddle team, his vocal leadership is not that big of a deal but he did improve in that area. He is still a quiet leader that leads by example and he does that in our offseason program, too, and it shows out on the field.” Which, said Relf, is a far cry from the kid that had his initial meeting with Mullen heading into his redshirt sophomore campaign. “Things were just so fast when I first got here,” recalled Relf. “I just had to adjust to everything. It’s been a lot of hard work. I remember when I first started off playing football and I was clumsy. It was something I had to work at. My dad used to have me out there throwing to trash cans and hanging on monkey bars to keep my hands strong. There was a lot of stuff that I did just to get to this point where I am right now.” But through all the improvements from last season, what hasn’t changed is Relf’s mindset towards holding off daily battles from other MSU quarterbacks such as Tyler Russell and Dylan Favre. “The big thing last year was to become a good leader for the offense,” said Relf. “I felt I would be the starter last year and I expected to be the starter. As a competitor you have to believe that, and it is the same going into my final season.” MFM


chris relf

Mainly, I’ve just tried to work on my footwork, staying in the pocket and delivering the ball.

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Missississippi State PREVIEW defe n se

M josh boyd

ississippi State head coach Dan Mullen enters the 2011 season with his third defensive coordinator in as many years. But this year’s defensive boss is not exactly a new face for the Bulldog defenders. After Manny Diaz took the defensive coordinator spot at Texas, Mullen quickly promoted 2010 defensive line coach Chris Wilson to the open vacancy. “You will always have different tweaks here and there,” said Wilson. “But our scheme and aggressiveness will not change. We will still play with the same mindset and that is to attack the offense from all different directions.”

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fletcher cox

Defensive Line That attacking style starts up front where Wilson and company return several familiar faces. Returning starters and juniors Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd combined for five sacks and 15 tackles for loss a year ago and will again anchor the line at the defensive tackle slots. “Fletcher Cox has the chance to be that dominant guy in the SEC this year,” said MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. “He has welcomed that leadership role left behind by (former Bulldog defensive end) Pernell McPhee and ran with that role. And Josh Boyd is another veteran full of experience in this league and you can’t put a price tag on that.” However, a pair of new faces - redshirt freshmen Kaleb Eulls and Curtis Virges - will get their first shot at adding depth at defensive tackle this fall. Called a “wildcard and flavor of the day”, junior Devin Jones

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could also again rotate at tackle and on the edge of the defensive line. Jones has been a consistent part of State’s defensive line rotation in the past and has six career tackles. And speaking of the edge, senior Sean Ferguson returns at defensive end and looks to fill the void left behind by the graduation of All-SEC performer McPhee. Ferguson owns starting experience, which is rare among returning defensive ends. “Sean probably made the biggest jump this spring of all our defensive ends,” said Wilson. “And that is what you expect from a senior who is only guaranteed 12 more games in his college career.” Also in the mix at defensive end will be juniors Shane McCardell and Trevor Stigers, as well as sophomore Corvell Harrison-Gay, who was one of three true freshmen to see action last year.


cameron lawrence

Linebackers

brandon wilson

Another big unknown is at linebacker where MSU lost the services of 2010 seniors K.J. Wright and Chris White the team’s top two tacklers. The Bulldogs are hoping Cameron Lawrence, Brandon Wilson and Chris Hughes can overcome those losses along with upand-coming talent like Deontae Skinner and Ferlando Bohanna. MSU also got more help in the summer when former Clemson transfer and three-year starter Brandon Maye arrived in Starkville. “There’s still a lot of unanswered questions there,” said Mullen. “I didn’t doubt maybe the talent level that we have there. The biggest question was the experience level this spring you have there. But I do think guys stepped forward. I do think we have a bunch of SEC players at linebacker here. “We just got to make sure that they’re SEC ready this September. Not saying that they’re SEC-caliber players but they’re actually able to perform at that level come this September. That’s a long way to go development-wise with these guys.”

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johnthan banks

defensive backs

MSU does, however, return a secondary full of experience and proven performers with the likes of senior safeties Charles Mitchell and Wade Bonner, as well as junior corners Corey Broomfield and Johnthan Banks. Considered one of the top leaders on the team, Mitchell is the team’s leading returning tackler and had 93 stops last year. Banks and Broomfield again made big plays last year and tied for team honors with three interceptions. During the spring, Banks split time at cornerback and safety and could rotate at both spots this fall. Also in the corner rotation this spring were seniors Damein Anderson and Marvin Bure along with redshirt freshmen Jamerson Love and Jay Hughes. And joining the team this fall will be former juco All-American cornerback Darius Slay.

“Those guys have played a lot of football in this league and they know this league,” said MSU defensive backs coach Melvin Smith. “So we have a chance to be as good as we’ve been in a long, long time. They are not five star guys but they are hard-nosed and blue collar guys.” Depth is also good at safety even before Banks took reps there this spring. Sophomore Nickoe Whitley started last year and like Banks and Broomfield, ended the year with a trio of interceptions. “You can never have enough of those kind of athletes,” said MSU safeties coach Tony Hughes. “And we have a good mix of leaders in that group and guys that are very versatile. That always makes you feel better about your depth and leadership for the season.” MFM

Special Teams That can also be said for the Bulldog placekickers. Senior Derek DePasquale took most of the field-goal reps last year and converted 10-of-12 field goals and was perfect on all of his 28 extra-point attempts. Backing up DePasquale this spring was former Western

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Illinois transfer Brian Egan, who showed a stronger foot than DePasquale and could handle kickoff duties this fall. But from a consistency standpoint, DePasquale still held a major advantage.


corey broomfield

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Charles Mitchell

sets standard for Bulldog defense

F

ollowing scrimmages this spring, first-year Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson found himself surrounded by reporters searching for answers about what transpired that particular day on the gridiron. And like clockwork, a certain name of a Bulldog senior defender was mentioned in Wilson’s opening comments - strong safety Charles Mitchell. “We know what the Charles Mitchells of this team can do,” said Wilson. “This spring was about finding guys to step up and play like he does every day. You know what you are getting every single day with Charles, and he sets a standard for the rest of the defensive guys.” Not only that, said Mitchell’s position coach, but he sets a standard for the whole team. “Charles is a three-year starter in the program and we look at him as one of the leaders for the entire team,” said MSU safeties’ coach Tony Hughes. “He plays extremely hard, is athletic, is one of our best tacklers and is a guy we are very excited about this fall. It is a blessing to have him as a great senior leader and the leader of the defense.” Being a staple in the Bulldogs’ secondary since 2009, Mitchell is one of several familiar faces back in the secondary. Last year, Mitchell ranked third on the team with 93 tackles and he also tallied three tackles for loss. Mentioned as an All-SEC candidate for 2011, the humble Mitchell gives credit to those around him. “We have a lot of older guys back there and we’ve been through the battles in this tough league,” said Mitchell. “We have to set the example for the younger guys and we have a lot of great athletes at this position like (Johnthan) Banks, Wade Bonner, Nickoe Whitley and Dennis (Thames). We just try to help each other out every day and feed off our competitiveness.” And being one of the leaders on the field as well as an emotional leader for the Bulldogs is not a task that Mitchell takes likely. “It is a leadership role that I want and a role I’ve been trying to get,” said Mitchell. “I am still trying to work my way towards being a more vocal leader. You know, I have always led by example

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and doing everything right and doing the best I can.”I am more encouraging now to guys and just try to boost them on. If they are not doing something right, I get on them, make sure they do it right the next time or just do it over until they get it right.” Back to spring practice, Mitchell and his position mates likely make up MSU’s deepest position on the defensive side of the ball as well as the most experienced. With another year under their belts, Mitchell was encouraged by what he witnessed this spring. “A lot of guys stepped up, and that’s what gave me encouragement,” said Mitchell. “A lot of guys got better. But things we’ve got to get better on are more technique-wise. Stuff like staying low, and running to the ball and finishing the play, we’ve got to keep working to get better.” For the past couple of years, MSU’s secondary has seen its share of big plays yet also allowing big plays to their opponents. However, Mitchell feels that balancing act took a turn in the right direction last fall. And that path down the right road will be crucial for Mitchell and the Bulldogs’ success on defense this fall. “I feel like we are gonna keep reducing those big plays we gave up,” said Mitchell. “And then keep adding on to the big plays that we made. All that starts right now and has already started after spring. We are doing extra stuff and extra deep-ball drills this offseason. “And that was basically where all the big plays came from, you know, the ones we gave up. It was deep balls thrown over our head. Those are things we have to eliminate if we want to produce better than we did last year.” MFM


A lot of guys stepped up, and that’s what gave me encouragement

charles mitchell

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MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS PROJECTED DEPTH CHART OFFENSE

DEFENSE

Special Teams

WR -19 ARCETO CLARK 5-10 180 JR. 86 Michael Carr 6-1 195 So. WR - 1 CHAD BUMPHIS 5-10 200 JR. 3 Brandon Heavens 5-10 175 Jr. WR - 8 CHRIS SMITH 6-2 205 JR. 11 Ricco Sanders 5-11 190 So. LT - 77 JAMES CARMON 6-7 330 SR. 75 BLAINE CLAUSELL 6-7 295 RFR. LG - 61 GABE JACKSON 6-4 310 SO. 68 Templeton Hardy 6-3 300 Jr. C - 55 QUENTIN SAULSBERRY 6-2 300 SR. 63 Dillon Day 6-4 285 RFr. RG - 67 TOBIAS SMITH 6-3 305 JR. 78 Damien Robinson 6-8 310 RFr. RT - 62 ADDISON LAWRENCE 6-4 290 SR. 59 Archie Muniz 6-5 275 RFr. TE - 32 MARCUS GREEN 6-1 240 SR. 18 Brandon Hill 6-2 240 RFr. RB - 28 VICK BALLARD 5-11 215 SR. 27 LaDarius Perkins 5-10 190 So. 2 Robert Elliott 6-0 210 Sr. QB - 14 CHRIS RELF 6-4 240 SR. 17 Tyler Russell 6-5 225 So.

DE - 99 SEAN FERGUSON 6-3 250 SR. 56 Corvell Harrison-Gay 6-3 250 So. DT - 97 JOSH BOYD 6-3 295 JR. 92 Kaleb Eulls 6-4 280 RFr. DT - 94 FLETCHER COX 6-4 295 JR. 60 Devin Jones 6-0 255 Jr. DE - 96 SHANE MCCARDELL 6-5 255 JR. 54 TREVOR STIGERS 6-5 245 JR. LB - 22 MATTHEW WELLS 6-0 205 RFR. 12 Chris Hughes 6-0 215 So. LB - 58 BRANDON WILSON 6-0 235 SR. 9 Brandon Maye 6-2 235 Sr. LB - 10 CAMERON LAWRENCE 6-2 225 JR. 51 Deonte Skinner 6-2 235 So. CB - 13 JOHNTHAN BANKS 6-2 185 JR. 41 Marvin Bure 5-9 190 Sr. SS - 4 CHARLES MITCHELL 5-11 205 SR. 30 Jay Hughes 5-11 185 RFr. FS - 7 WADE BONNER 5-10 190 SR. 5 Nickoe Whitley 6-0 200 So. CB - 25 COREY BROOMFIELD 5-10 180 JR. 26 Damein Anderson 5-11 195 Sr.

PK- 40 DEREK DEPASQUALE 5-8 180 JR. 53 Brian Egan 5-10 210 So. P - 39 BAKER SWEDENBERG 6-0 190 SO. 43 William Berg 5-9 195 Jr. SN - 84 REED GORDON 6-4 230 RFR. KOR - 27 LADARIUS PERKINS 5-10 190 SO. PR - 1 CHAD BUMPHIS 5-10 200 JR.


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vaught-hemingway stadium

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ole miss PREVIEW offe n se

zack stoudt

randall mackey

quarterbacks On his summer speaking tour Houston Nutt told people Barry Brunetti, the sophomore transfer from West Virginia who became eligible after an NCAA waiver was granted, was a little ahead in the three-man race. Turns out Brunetti, an elusive athlete who quickly grasped the new offensive installed by coordinator David Lee, was ahead at the end, albeit ahead of, perhaps, a surprise No. 2. Junior college transfer Zack Stoudt, suspended for the spring game, edged out athletic and accurate Randall Mackey, a fleetfooted junior college All-American who redshirted last season. Stoudt is most pure pocket passer of the three. Brunetti gives the Rebels a better chance to escape a bad play.

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Brunetti, a Memphis native, is the only quarterback on the roster with any college game experience. He appeared in four games for the Mountaineers last year. His waiver request centered around his mother’s health. The most important name in the race, though, has been David Lee, Nutt says. Lee was hired in January as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “There’s not a better quarterbacks coach, and he couldn’t come at a better time because of the three quarterbacks. He’ll put the best one on the field. He brings tremendous organizational skills and knowledge that goes way back.”


barry brunetti Brunetti, a Memphis native, is the only quarterback on the roster with any college game experience. He appeared in four games for the west virginia Mountaineers last year.

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enrique davis

running backs

Jeff Scott was only a true freshman last year when he turned the corner against Auburn and scampered 80 yards to the end zone. It’s a highlight Nutt mentioned more than once this summer. Scott’s a little bit stronger and a little more experienced now, but Brandon Bolden remains the clear leader of the backs. Bolden rushed for 969 yards a year ago and has the line this season to get him past the 1,000-yard mark if he upholds his end of

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the bargain. Bolden had 14 rushing touchdowns and was the team’s leading receiver with 32 catches and three more scores. One of the deepest positions on the team, Bolden has a solid back-up in Enrique Davis, a senior and powerful straight-ahead runner.


offensive Line

With the addition of Arkansas transfer Matt Hall at right guard, the Rebels could very well become a right-handed running team. Hall (6-10, 350) gives Ole Miss a physical presence it hasn’t had at the position in recent seasons. Hall is lining up next to an NFL prospect at right tackle, Bobby Massie, who is entering his third season as a starter. Nutt says Massie is primed for a big season. “He’s about 325 pounds. This is the best he’s ever been with his body. He’s worked so hard, so much better with his pass sets. Always been a good run blocker,” he said. Left tackle Bradley Sowell will protect the blind side. He made all the preseason All-SEC teams as well as the watch lists for the Outland and Lombardi awards which honor the nation’s best line-

man. Center A.J. Hawkins was named to the Rimington watch list for the award honoring the best at that position. The front five was a revolving door last year, starting with the dismissal of right guard Rishaw Johnson. The Rebels went half the season before settling on five starters. The hard times helped develop depth and chemistry, and coaches feel they have a complete second line they can trust. That being said, they’ll find a top-eight rotation and get their best players on the field. One lots of young players gained experience last year, one of those top eight could be heralded freshman Aaron Morris. Keep an eye on him.

Bobby Massie

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bradley sowell

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ja-mes logan

Wide Receivers

Some experience returns with junior Melvin Harris and sophomore Ja-Mes Logan, but they’ve been swallowed up in the talk of the recruiting class. In an effort to boost speed, the Rebels signed five wide receivers. There are more bodies and more speed for new wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer. “I love the group. Logan and Harris got better this summer. The group that got to camp has tremendous work ethic. They are hungry and can run. They’re not average freshmen,” Nutt said. Harris at 6-foot-6 always brings the chance for a favorable match-up. Experience will keep Harris and Logan in the rotation, but they will have to work hard to rise to a level of “go to”

receiver. There are plenty of candidates for “go to” guy, and the leader could be freshman Nick Brassell, who has been consistent with speed and good hands in camp. Freshmen Donte Moncrief and Tobias Singleton had impressive camps as well. Singleton can stretch the field, and Moncrief is a physical receiver who makes catches in traffic. A big addition to this group is tight end Jamal Mosley. Of course, priority one for tight ends is blocking, but Mosley has a skill set the Rebels have not recently had at tight end. While they’ve thrown sparingly to tight ends in the past, that could change. MFM

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Brandon Bolden Rebels Leading Man

I

n terms of the life of a college football player, Brandon Bolden really hasn’t been running with a football as long as one might expect. “I really didn’t start playing running back until the 10th grade in high school,” he says, almost apologetically. While there are question marks at many positions for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, running back isn’t one of them. Bolden (5-11, 221) enters his senior year as the Rebels’ most established player, a leader on an offense long on talent but short on experience at some positions. The running backs and many offensive linemen have been around the block a few times. The quarterbacks and most receivers have not. While Bolden’s life span as a running back may not be all that he’d like, it has in some ways work to his advantage. It’s certainly left him with a hunger to learn. “I’ve watched almost every running back since 1962 until now. I’ve just become a student of the game,” he said. What Bolden’s study must have revealed – even if he wouldn’t admit it in such a way – is that his body of work is really pretty good. With a year to go, he’s already a fixture in the top 10 of Ole Miss running backs in a number of career categories: second in overall touchdowns (28), second in rushing touchdowns (23), seventh in rushing yards (2,132) and eighth in all-purpose yards (3,962.) With a mix of experience and talent along the line – and at this point in time good health, which escaped the Rebels for the first half of 2010 – Nutt has in Bolden the key ingredient for what he wants in a successful offense. “We want to be a physical football team. We have a big, outstanding offensive line. I want them to continue to get better, get better chemistry, be better blockers. We always want to run the football, but we want to have a very confident passing game, want to throw it to our guys, be consistent and take care of the ball,”

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Nutt said. “There were too many times last year where we didn’t take care of the ball. We want to be able to run the ball, have a good playaction, mix things up. You want to be able to run the ball and be able to throw it when you want to.” Bolden was the Rebels’ leading receiver last year with 32 catches, three for touchdowns. Known as one of the most versatile backs in the SEC, taking a handoff for big gains as he did on a 50-yard run at LSU, is how he’s built his career. Bolden has shown power with the football since he’s been on campus. As a junior in 2010 he improved his game with more yards after contact and with vision, using his quickness to bounce outside to open spaces. Bolden narrowly missed 1,000 yards last season, finishing with 976 on 163 attempts. He finished fifth in the SEC in rushing with 81.3 yards a game, sixth in scoring and seventh in all-purpose yards. Now he just wants to win. “We were put at the bottom, the very bottom. We’ve got to get back to the top. We’ve got to win games; we’ve got to do something. It’s a horrible spot to be in from 4-8. We’ve just got to get back to the top. We’ve just got to climb,” he said. While Brandon Bolden didn’t start scoring touchdowns in pee wee football, he understands the significance of his role in helping the Rebels climb. “I feel like there’s a lot of responsibility on me. That’s how all the seniors feel. This is our team.” MFM


brandon bolden

We want to be able to run the ball, have a good play-action, mix things up.

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ole miss PREVIEW

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defe n se

D

efensive backs coach Keith Burns, hired in January, plans to have his cornerbacks crowding the line of scrimmage more often than not. “People who know me know I like to pressure, to bump and run, to press at the line of scrimmage. Passing games nowadays are too good with all the rules changes, the way the game is played with no huddle and spread offenses,” Burns said. “The passing game, primarily is about the timing component. When you’re off in cushion, you’re rarely going to disrupt timing.” The good news for Burns is there’s more speed to work with than there was last year.

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damien jackson

defensive backs

Great news came for the Rebels late when freshman Senquez Golson did not sign with the Boston Red Sox and begin a pro baseball career. Golson is among the top four cornerbacks right now and has a world of potential with his speed and ball skills. More speed is on hand in Wesley Pendleton, a junior college track champion who went through spring drills, and in freshman wide receiver Nick Brassell, who will also play defense. Pendleton has played faster and with more confidence during camp.

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Burns has also worked with senior Marcus Temple for the first time this month. Temple missed spring drills recovering from hernia surgery. Presently, Temple, Pendleton and third-year sophomore Charles Sawyer are the top three corners. That doesn’t mean Golson won’t break into the group as the season goes along. At safety Damien Jackson is back after totaling 68 tackles, 4 1-2 tackles for loss in his first season as a junior college transfer. Third-year sophomore Frank Crawford and junior college transfer Aaron Garbutt will also be in the mix.


linebackers

There is more opportunity for newcomers here than at any other position after the off-season losses of D.T. Shackelford by injury, and his replacement Clarence Jackson by suspension. Joel Kight, a junior, will line up on the outside and will be counted on for leadership and for more production. He totaled 35 tackles in 12 games with seven starts a year ago. Sophomore Mike Marry will get the call at middle linebacker, but redshirt freshman Ralph Williams has shown a lot of energy and enthusiasm in camp and will press for playing time. Freshmen C.J. Johnson and Keith Lewis will compete for playing time and could challenge for starting jobs.

Johnson, of Philadelphia, was Mississippi’s top recruit last season and switched from Mississippi State to Ole Miss during the process. “C.J. Johnson doesn’t look like a guy just coming out of high school,” Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said. “Physically, he looks the part. He’ll have every opportunity to play a lot of football.” Look for a number of wrinkles from the base 4-3 defense that could include dropping a safety into the second outside spot. Sophomore Brishen Mathews and junior college transfer Ivan Nicholas are candidates there.

joel kight

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mike marry

defensive line

Only senior Justin Smith has any game experience at the interior down positions. Smith will be in the rotation of the top four tackles, but the Rebels need to see production from junior college transfer Uriah Grant, who has been a consistent force in the backfield at the I-AA and community college levels. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt planned for the transition from last year’s group of four senior tackles. Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett, redshirt freshmen, have the chance to make their marks now. Both were ranked among the state’s top 10 prospects coming out of Madison Central two years ago. They’ll get their chances, as will Gilbert Pena, another junior college transfer. “We don’t have the experience, but here’s what we do have … a real hunger, a real attitude and a real work ethic. We’re going to

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need those five guys in the middle to play their best football. These are names you’re not familiar with. I’m anxious to see how they do,” Nutt said. There is more experience at the ends where Kentrell Lockett returns after being granted a medical hardship sixth season as he returns from a torn ACL. Lockett had five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 13 pressures in 2009. Nutt is hoping for big things from Wayne Dorsey as a senior. Dorsey, a highly rated junior college recruit last year, never really acclimated and eventually lost his starting job. He’s been a different player in spring and through camp, coaches say. Juniors Gerald Rivers and Jason Jones also add some experience at the end positions.


special teams

Junior kicker Bryson Rose is a former walk-on entering his second year as a starter. His first was quite successful. Rose led the SEC last year with an 88.9 success rate hitting 16 of 18 field goal attempts. He was third in field goals per game at 1.33. His longest field goal is only 41 yards, but he’s shown greater leg strength in camp. Junior punter Tyler Campbell led the NCAA last season with an average of 46.4 yards on 60 kicks, becoming the 20th national

statistical champion in school history. The return game will get a boost from the signing class, specifically junior college transfer Philander Moore and freshman Nick Brassell. Moore earned juco All-American honors last year after totaling a combined 811 yards and six touchdowns on kick and punt returns. Running back Jeff Scott will also be used in the return game. MFM

wayne dorsey

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Kentrell Lockett

Senior’s leadership is key for the Rebels

I

t was only the fourth game of the 2010 season, and Kentrell Lockett had already missed the opener. Then mid-way through the Fresno State game, Lockett turned one way, and his knee turned another. That’s never a good thing. Before the night was out Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt had a pretty good idea his best defensive player was done for the year – his senior year. The Rebels celebrated a 55-38 win over Fresno, but Nutt knew bottom line was a loss and more than just with Lockett’s play on the field. “It’s the leadership, just him being in the locker room, him riding the bus, all those little things you take for granted.” Nutt said Lockett’s impact on this year’s signing class was evident early. “Eating lunch ... those freshmen are already looking up to him.” Nutt needs Lockett to lead on the field too, the way he did in 2009, to reinvigorate a defense that gave up yards and points with alarming consistency a year ago. Leadership is big, but so are the field results for a defense that will count on unproven interior linemen and a junior college transfer senior in Wayne Dorsey, who will try to rise up from a disappointing first season on campus. In their third season with Nutt as head coach and with Tyrone Nix as defensive coordinator, the Rebels gave up 35.2 points a game last - by a wide margin - in the SEC and 107th out of 120 major college teams.

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“The first two years I really thought we played with that passion and energy to get to the ball. I just didn’t feel like we did that last year,” Nutt said. Lockett showed that hunger for the ball as a junior two years ago. He led the team in quarterback pressures with 13 and had five sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Lockett struggled in going from field leader to sideline observer - and the Rebels struggled without him. “It was so much the attitude,” he said. “I know from the previous years, like the first Cotton Bowl year and the second Cotton Bowl year, if something bad happened, if they scored, if they got a first down, if they broke a long run, that was just that play. It was going to change.” Many players bounce back from ACL and return to form, but there are other stories, too. Lockett - who was voted second-team preseason All-SEC by the coaches, first team by the media - is eager to get on the field and test the knee. “When I play ball, everything else just completely goes. It just goes. Any worries, any problems, I’m not even worried about it, because I’m doing what I do best. I’m in the element, I’m in a zone. If any pain or anything or any worries, I’m not going to notice it until after the game’s over, after I watch film, if I’m slow getting off the ball. I ain’t too much worried about it.” MFM


kentrell lockett

brandon bolden

When I play ball, everything else just completely goes. It just goes.

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OLE MISS REBELS PROJECTED DEPTH CHART OFFENSE

DEFENSE

Special Teams

WR - 2 Nick Brassell 6-0, 175, Fr. 85 Ja-Mes Logan 6-2, 190, So. WR - 12 Donte Moncrief 6-2, 200, Fr. 5 Melvin Harris 6-6, 210, Jr. LT 78 Bradley Sowell 6-7, 315, Sr. 70 Emmanuel McCray 6-4, 319, So. LG - 77 Patrick Junen 6-6, 311, So. 72 Aaron Morris 6-5, 310, Fr. C - 76 A.J. Hawkins 6-3, 313, Jr. 56 Evan Swindall 6-2, 306, So. RG - 75 Matt Hall 6-9, 340, Jr. 74 Jared Duke 6-7, 346, So. RT - 79 Bobby Massie 6-6, 325, Jr. 73 Alex Washington 6-4, 356 Fr. QB - 11 Barry Brunetti 6-0, 213, So. 8 Zack Stoudt 6-4, 222, Jr. RB - 34 Brandon Bolden 5-11, 221, Sr. 3 Jeff Scott 5-7, 175, So. FB - H.R. Greer 5-11, 235, Jr. 33 E.J. Epperson 6-2, 253, Jr. TE - 83 Ferbia Allen 6-3, 235, Jr. 17 Jamal Mosely 6-4, 250, Jr.

E - 7 Wayne Dorsey 6-6, 262, Sr. 55 Cameron Whigham 6-2, 256, So. N - 93 Justin Smith 6-3, 298, Sr. 92 Carlton Martin 6-1, 298, RFr. T - 98 Uriah Grant 6-1, 280, Jr. 95 Bryon Bennett 6-2, 280, RFr. E - 40 Kentrell Lockett 6-5, 248, Sr. 90 Gerald Rivers 6-5, 245, Jr. LB - 1 Damien Jackson 6-2, 210, Sr. 20 Aaron Garbutt 6-2, 205, JR. MLB - 52 Mike Marry 6-2, 248, So. 44 Ralph Williams 6-0, 235, RFr. LB - 15 Joel Kight 5-9, 226, Jr. 24 Keith Lewis 6-2 215 Fr. CB - 6 Wesley Pendleton 5-11, 180, Jr. 33 Cliff Coleman 5-10, 188, Rfr. CB - 4 Marcus Temple 5-10, 196, Sr. 21 Senquez Golson 6-0, 180, Fr. S - 3 Charles Sawyer 5-11, 174, So. 25 Cody Prewitt 6-3, 200, Fr. S - 5 Frank Crawford 6-0, 185, So. 13 Brishen Mathews 5-11, 200, So.

K – 81 Bryson Rose 5-11, 197, Jr. P – 97 Tyler Campbell 6-2, 227, Jr. PR – 3 Jeff Scott 5-7, 175, So. 2 Philander Moore 5-9, 192, So. KOR – 3 Jeff Scott 5-11, 175, So. 34 Brandon Bolden 5-11, 221, Sr.


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VANDERBILT Nashville LSU Starkville (Sept. 15)

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS Oxford

AUBURN Auburn

BRIGHAM YOUNG Oxford

MEMPHIS Memphis (Sept. 1)

OLE MISS

MISSISSIPPI STATE

OLE MISS Nashville

CONNECTICUT Nashville

ELON Nashville

VANDERBILT

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia

VANDERBILT Columbia

WEST VIRGINIA Morgantown

FLORIDA Lexington

OLE MISS Oxford

KENTUCKY Lexington

BUFFALO Knoxville

AUBURN Columbia

GEORGIA Athens

FRESNO STATE Fresno

KENTUCKY Baton Rouge

LSU Baton Rouge

MISSISSIPPI STATE Athens

ALABAMA Gainesville

ALABAMA Tuscaloosa

GEORGIA Knoxville

KENTUCKY Columbia

UAB Birmingham

FLORIDA Baton Rouge

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia

TENNESSEE Knoxville

LSU Baton Rouge

GEORGIA Nashville

ARMY Nashville

ARKANSAS Nashville

FLORIDA Gainesville

KENTUCKY Nashville

ARKANSAS Fayetteville

MIDDLE TENNESSEE Knoxville SOUTH CAROLINA Knoxville LSU Knoxville

FLORIDA Columbia ARKANSAS Fayetteville

ALABAMA Starkville

TENNESSEEMARTIN Starkville TENNESSEE Knoxville

LOUISIANA TECH Oxford

WESTERN KENTUCKY Baton Rouge

VANDERBILT Nashville

AUBURN Athens

TENNESSEE Knoxville

VANDERBILT Knoxville

THE CITADEL Columbia

ARKANSAS Little Rock

LSU Oxford

OLE MISS Oxford

GEORGIA Athens

KENTUCKY Athens

FURMAN Gainesville

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia

KENTUCKY Lexington

ALABAMA Tuscaloosa

OLE MISS Lexington

NEW MEXICO STATE Athens

VANDERBILT Gainesville

MISSISSIPPI STATE Little Rock SAMFORD Auburn

TENNESSEE Fayetteville

SOUTH CAROLINA Fayetteville

GEORGIA SOUTHERN Tuscaloosa

Nov. 19

GEORGIA Athens

MISSISSIPPI STATE Starkville

Nov. 12

LSU Tuscaloosa

Nov. 5

MISSISSIPPI STATE Starkville

AUBURN Auburn

MISSISSIPPI STATE Lexington

FLORIDA Jacksonville

GEORGIA Jacksonville

OLE MISS Auburn

VANDERBILT Nashville

Oct. 29

KENTUCKY Lexington

ALABAMA Tuscaloosa

ARKANSAS Oxford

AUBURN Baton Rouge

JACKSONVILLE STATE Lexington

LSU Baton Rouge

OLE MISS Oxford

TENNESSEE Tuscaloosa

Oct. 22

SOUTH CAROLINA Starkville

ALABAMA Oxford

TENNESSEE Knoxville

VANDERBILT Nashville

AUBURN Auburn

FLORIDA Auburn

OLE MISS Oxford

Oct. 15

2011 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME • DECEMBER 3 • ATLANTA, GA.

FLORIDA Gainesville

CINCINNATI Knoxville

MONTANA Knoxville

TENNESSEE

Charlotte

NAVY Columbia

MISS. STATE Starkville (Sept. 15)

NORTHWESTERN STATE Baton Rouge

OREGON Arlington, Texas

LSU

GEORGIA Athens

LOUISVILLE Lexington

CENTRAL MICHIGAN Lexington

W. KENTUCKY Nashville (Sept. 1)

KENTUCKY

EAST CAROLINA

LOUISIANA TECH Starkville

COASTAL CAROLINA Athens

SOUTH CAROLINA Athens

BOISE STATE Atlanta

GEORGIA

SOUTH CAROLINA

GEORGIA Oxford

TENNESSEE Gainesville

UAB Gainesville

FLORIDA ATLANTIC Gainesville

FLORIDA

ARKANSAS Fayetteville

SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia

FLORIDA ATLANTIC Auburn

CLEMSON Clemson

MISS. STATE Auburn

UTAH STATE Auburn

AUBURN

VANDERBILT Tuscaloosa AUBURN Fayetteville

TROY Fayetteville

NEW MEXICO Little Rock

MISSOURI STATE Fayetteville

ARKANSAS

FLORIDA Gainesville

Oct. 8

TEXAS A&M Arlington, Texas

ARKANSAS Tuscaloosa

NORTH TEXAS Tuscaloosa

PENN STATE State College

KENT STATE Tuscaloosa

ALABAMA

Oct. 1

ALABAMA Tuscaloosa

Sept. 24

Sept. 17

Sept. 10

Sept. 3

Date Team

2011 SEC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

WAKE FOREST Winston-Salem

KENTUCKY Lexington

CLEMSON Columbia

OLE MISS Starkville

MISSISSIPPI STATE Starkville

ARKANSAS Baton Rouge (Nov. 25)

TENNESSEE Lexington

GEORGIA TECH Atlanta

FLORIDA STATE Gainesville

ALABAMA Auburn

LSU Baton Rouge (Nov. 25)

AUBURN Auburn

Nov. 26


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