Earlier today, Brandt released a mostly accurate and only mildly speculative depth chart for the upcoming season. There aren't any major surprises anywhere, but it's football and it starts in a week-from-tomorrow, so it's definitely worth looking at and discussing. Follow the jump, Rebel fan, and look at our thoughts on the offense, then the defense. Leave your own thoughts in the comments thread and, yes, keep them snarky.
QB - Stanley/Masoli/Mackey
This is obvious. Stanley will be named the starter until he makes a mistake. Then Masoli will come in. I'm fairly positive we will use both a good deal throughout the year. I expect Mackey to redshirt, unless he's totally unwilling to do so, which would be a huge mistake on his part. Mackey needs time to adjust to the non-JUCO aspects of SEC football which is, chiefly, everything. I do not think we will see a lot of Masoli early on, but I do expect to see him situationally against Jacksonville State and Tulane before getting more time against Vanderbilt and Fresno State. Ideally, you want to let Masoli get most of the snaps against the meat of our schedule, but I am perfectly fine with the coaches letting him adjust to SEC football and reacclimate to football in general early on.
RB - Bolden/Davis/R. Scott/J. Scott/Thomas
Honestly, I'd like to see Jeff Scott move up that chart. Bolden deserves first team carries, but the others ahead of Scott haven't shown a lot. I like both Enricky and Rodney, but with the reports from practice about how great Jeff Scott is, I would just hate to see us not give him a legitimate shot at significant carries. He is young and he is small, but everything we've heard suggests that he very well could be the fastest person on the team. At the very least, let's hope our coaches get him in the game situationally on end-arounds, sweeps, screens, and other plays designed to give speedy guys room to build up some steam.
FB - Epperson/Greer/D. Davis/Eastland
It's surprising that HR Greer is listed ahead of Derrick Davis. Davis has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. I've always thought we should use him a bit more. I'm fine with EJ "Bowling Ball Filled With Knives" Epperson getting the starting nod. We all thought he looked fine during Spring workouts.
WR - Summers/Harris/Neat/Logan
Again, it's interesting that Logan is so far behind after having a "breakout" Spring. Korvic Neat excites me because of his sheer speed. Obviously, Harris has been awesome so far this Fall, but I think people overlook Markeith Summers a good bit. Whiskey Wednesday basically hates the guy, in fact. I actually think he gets open relatively well, but he certainly doesn't have great speed and isn't as good with his hands as his former teammates Shay and Dex.
WR - Breaux/Grandy/Sanders/Herman
Vincent Sanders has moved ahead of Derrick Herman quickly. That's a good sign, because I know the coaches like when Herman actually has the ball in his hands. I'm a little bit surprised that Breaux is ahead of Grandy, but that goes along with what EtoH has reported about practices. Apparently Breaux looks pretty good. Brandt has alluded to the idea that the WR position is far more fluid than any depth chart could suggest, meaning that all eight of these guys could see playing time at any wideout position. That isn't necessarily a good thing, nor is it a bad thing. It just means that all of these guys are alright wideouts. None of them are superstars (yet), and none of them are terrible enough to be relegated to the scout team.
TE - Allen/Hicks/Mason
I think Ferbia Allen could be in for a decent year due to Masoli's tendency to look for the tight end. Reggie Hicks will do fine in his second team spot, while Zaccheus Mason at this point is still a major project.
LT - Sowell/McCray
Word on the street is that Emmanuel McCray looks alright in practice. That's good. Still, if Sowell went down, we'd be in a scary situation, and that says a lot about Sowell's improvement over the past season. He was tossed in the fire last year, and we did our fair share of roasting the guy, but he has come a long way and actually looks the part of a legitimate SEC left tackle.
LG - Washington/Brown
This is what I don't get. Why is Jared Duke not the primary backup at left guard instead of right? We've heard all offseason about how he is so impressive. Why stick him behind Rishaw Johnson where he has no opportunity to contend for the starting job? Apparently Alex Washington's hold on the position is questionable at best, so we put Michael Brown in as his primary backup? Regardless of who is at that spot on the depth chart, though, left guard and center are easily the weakest links of our line and, perhaps, the entire offense.
C - Hawkins/Swindall
This switches on a seemingly daily basis. We've got to get this in check. Whoever is better at snapping the ball, give them the nod and keep them there, Houston and Mike. I worry that we are really, really going to miss Daverin Geralds this season.
RG - Johnson/Duke
The right side of our offensive line appears pretty strong. Rishaw and Bobby are both lane-plowing linemen, saving finesse and technique in favor of their size and strength. Look for us to move the ball behind their two large frames a good bit this fall.
RT - Massie/Clair
Ohhh boy, let's just hope that Massie doesn't get hurt.
DE - Lockett/Rivers
Lockett is going to have a monster year, barring - knock on wood - injury or other horrible circumstance. I like getting Rivers some snaps behind him, especially in mop-up duty, just to give him more time to get ready for his likely starting role next season. Early on in his career, Rivers wasn't progressing well. Nutt said recently that he has been really happy with Rivers' offseason, and that's certainly encouraging. If nothing else, he's a pass rusher, and backing up Lockett is right place for a pass rushing specialist.
DT - Powe/Laurent
You've gotta feel very good about having Jerrell Powe backed up by Ted Laurent. Ted Laurent is a legit SEC defensive tackle who would easily start at half of the teams in the conference. This is a position about which we needn't worry. I wonder why Brandt didn't place Corey Gaines or Justin Smith on this depth chart. I wonder where they're supposed to be. I assume both of those guys will play sparingly, allowing us to redshirt Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett.
DT - Scott/Armour
LaMark Armour is more of a lean, pass-rushing type defensive tackle who we'll see primarily in passing situations, whereas Scott is a first and second down type guy who is squatty and tough to move around. Don't be surprised to see Laurent in this spot either at certain points. I would guess that we'll play Armour a good bit when we're having trouble rushing the passer. I'd also like to see him play a lot against Tennessee, since a speedy DT could have a huge impact against their spotty offensive line.
DE - Dorsey/Whigham/Thompson
This is definitely Dorsey's spot to lose. He has apparently been working very hard in practices and only really needs to establish himself against the run to become a complete defensive end. The coaches say he's doing that, and that's fantastic. I like the idea of Carlos Thompson at the third spot here. He and Delvin Jones were huge recruiting pickups for us last season and the earlier we can get these guys on the field and in SEC shape the better. They're a bit small to start, but they'll be fine situationally and against our out of conference foes.
WLB - Kight/Jackson
Joel Kight is fierce but small. Clarence Jackson is built like a brick outhouse (GoJC's phrase, not mine), but a raw freshman. We're going to experience some growing pains at this position due to Trahan's graduation and budding Tennessee Titans career, but I think that both of these guys just need some experience and adjustment to get ready to play this position at a high level. I really like that Kight will be a on the field a good bit now. I love his speed and hitting power.
MLB - Cornell/Shackelford
Obviously, this is the strongest of our linebacker positions. Both of these guys are very strong and have a good idea of how plays develop. Cornell really understands the defense well, and Shackelford is beastly. I'd like to see us cycle both out a good bit in order to keep them each fresh. Shackelford isn't hurt anymore, so he should be able to get into games a good bit more now. There won't be a significant drop-off when Cornell graduates though depth could be an issue then assuming we don't move someone else over to the backup MLB spot.
SLB - Walker/Marry (when healthy)/Sanders
Allen Walker is easily the most underappreciated starter on our defense. I think it all can be tied back to the fact that he was rumored to be the top safety in the country coming out of high school. Sure, he didn't turn out to be that way. However, the abilities he developed as a safety have really helped him at linebacker. I love his ability to cover tight ends, and he can blow up screens very well because of his speed. Mike Marry is obviously a great story because of his willingness to sit out for a year instead of accepting his Duke offer in 2009. He's well built and probably the future of the SLB position. Brandon Sanders.... I just don't know anything about him other than the fact that he is constantly moved around.
CB - Temple/Sawyer
Marcus Temple has been a huge surprise since arriving at Ole Miss. He played sparingly as a true freshman and made an impact (stopping Tebow, etc.). Still, I never thought he would be anything more than a nickel corner. Then, the light came on for Temple. He's playing at a high level as just a junior, and I'm really satisfied with the position. Obviously Charles Sawyer is a budding star on defense. He's going to be a great player for us in time. I honestly like the fact that we're using him as a backup right now though. It allows him to give up a play or two and not lose confidence when our coaches pull him out. He can have the mindset of a backup for his first year.
SS - Jackson/Ingram (when healthy)/Junaid
Hm... I'm not sure about this. Ingram had the starting gig until he got hurt. He'll be eased back into the starting role, but I would assume he'll take it back. Damien Jackson should be fine as an early starter, but I want to see him in some games before I have any confidence in his ability to play against Arkansas. Dele Junaid scares me a good bit. He's a hard hitter, but that's about it.
FS - Brown/Matthews
Johnny Brown has always been one of my favorite players. I wish we had redshirt him as a sophomore when his job was taken over by Kendrick Lewis, but that's neither here nor there. Brown is a beast and should lead the team in tackles again. I wish he was a little better in coverage, but he's not bad. Brishen Matthews is a surprise here until you look at our horrible depth at safety. I'm sure he'll be ok, but I would guess that the pre-season hype of his ability is only because the coaches want him to feel confident as a backup.
CB - McGee/Crawford
Jeremy McGee is alright. Like Temple, he's better than I thought, but he's got to show the ability to cover more than just a slot receiver. Frank Crawford easily jumped over Ryan Campbell since Campbell hasn't progressed much since arriving at Ole Miss. Crawford has transitioned better than I thought from safety to corner, but I still imagine we'll play a good bit of nickel this season to avoid putting Crawford out there even when four receivers are on the field.
K - Rose/Ritter
Apparently Bryson Rose has solidified this job. Ritter has fallen victim to the biggest common problem with big-legged kickers: accuracy. He can kick it really far, but it doesn't exactly go where he wants it to go. As you can imagine, that's an issue in depth chart placement.
KO - Ritter/Hankins
Once again, Ritter can kick the ball quite a distance. As a kickoff specialist, that's what he has to do. Hankins, eh.... he's alright I guess.
P - Campbell/Ritter
Yay! Two guys who can kick it really far at punter! Yay! Kicking! But for reals, if NCAA 2011 is any indicator, watch out SEC return men, because Campbell can boom the damn ball half a mile.
H - Contartesi
This is your chance to see the field Richie. Don't blow it.
What do you think of the depth chart?