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Countdown to Ole Miss football: Single digits

We are 8 days from embracing the familiar blend of joy, despair, and crippling anxiety.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Texas A&M Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Handshakes and backslaps all around, as our journey through the content desert ends, and we stand on the verge of the 2023 season.

One Saturday from tomorrow, Ole Miss and Mercer will lock horns at 1 PM, with the ideal outcome involving an easy win, zero injuries, and no heat strokes for those in attendance. But a win of any kind, zero injuries, and no heat strokes is an acceptable outcome.

What we learn on September 2nd about this version of Ole Miss football remains to be seen (hopefully not a lot!), however, as I’ve written before, Mercer has the potential to be annoying to quite annoying on offense. Outside of some Old Testament action happening, Ole Miss isn’t in danger of losing the game, but there are many unknowns about this team.

Using a rapid-fire format, here’s what we don’t know (rumors/rumblings are not known things):

  • The starting quarterback situation
  • Wide receiver rotation
  • Offensive line depth that shows up in games
  • Tight end situation
  • Communication in a new defense
  • Execution in a new defense
  • Defensive line depth that shows up in games
  • Linebacker situation (perpetual)
  • Defensive back rotation
  • Which Caden will do kickoffs*
  • Which Caden will kick field goals*

*I feel reasonably confident we can eliminate Caden Prieskorn from this conversation, making it a two-Caden battle, but you never know!

With those unknowns in mind, let’s end this countdown with eight predictions that may be an answer to some things in that list.

Lane Kiffin outfit changes in OVER 9.5 games

This seems like a lock, given he always changes clothes at halftime, but we have to account for cold weather games where he comes out wearing five layers* and isn’t going to readjust. Once you get all those layers on, it could not be a bigger pain in the butt to make adjustments.

*Kiffin has talked about how much he hates cold weather and gets cold very easily.

If Ole Miss has three really cold games, this prediction is a loser. The Egg Bowl will be freezing (and probably raining) because Egg Bowl, so we can only afford one of these to be cold:

  • Vanderbilt in Oxford (October 28th)
  • Texas A&M in Oxford (November 4th)
  • at Georgia (November 11th)
  • Louisiana-Monroe in Oxford (November 18th)

Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe* will probably be day games, so those seem unlikely. We just need to avoid an early November cold snap with the potential for night games.

*I expect the weather for this game to be 70 and sunny before turning to absolute crap right before the Egg Bowl, per tradition.

Quinshon Judkins UNDER 999.5 rushing yards

Before you send the SWAT team to my house, let me list things that have the potential to eat into his yardage:

  • Better quarterback play
  • Better pass protection
  • New receiving threats, especially at tight end
  • A three-running back rotation (with Judkins getting the majority of carries)
  • Judkins’ alleged improvement in being a receiving threat out of the backfield
  • Judkins not staying fully healthy (289 touches last year and never missed any time; Zach Evans had 156 and missed a lot of time)
  • Defenses will have 13 games of tape and will be repeatedly reminded of the hype by their coaches
  • Defensive improvements that cut down on explosive plays, forcing opposing offenses to put together longer drives
  • New clock rules mean fewer plays

When he rushes for 2,000 yards, please bring bullhorns and stand outside my house yelling at me about this.

Quinshon Judkins OVER 1199.5 total yards

That’s right, more than double his receiving yards from last year (132) combined with 900+ rushing yards, and we’re counting that paper. Or in this case, since I have no financials involved, I will be LOUDLY tapping the sign.

Caden Prieskorn OVER 36.5 receptions

The last Ole Miss tight end to catch 37 or more passes? Evan Engram in 2016, with 65 for 926 yards (!!!). Obviously, Engram’s role in Hugh Freeze’s offense won’t be what Prieskorn’s is in Kiffin’s offense, nor do they possess the same skillsets, but they messed around and gave a Kiffin offense a tight end receiving threat.

Wins versus Alabama, LSU, and Georgia OVER 0.5

The triumvirate of SEC powers makes the schedule brutal, but I get the sense this team has the ability to land haymakers. Not consistently, mind you, but them getting on a heater for 60 minutes is a very real thing.

The most logical scenario is:

  • at Alabama - loss
  • vs LSU - win
  • at Georgia - loss

The most hilarious scenario is:

  • at Alabama - win
  • vs LSU - loss
  • at Georgia - loss

The peak chaos scenario is:

  • at Alabama - loss
  • vs LSU - loss
  • at Georgia - win

The last scenario might cause Kirby Smart to have such an existential crisis that he goes to a barber instead of cutting his hair with a spoon.

Hugh Freeze Treadwell pass plays versus Ole Miss OVER 1.5

More than likely, they won’t work, but if they do, Freeze may do 50 Degeneration X crotch chops at the Ole Miss sideline. And I would give that stubborn man a tip of the top hat.

Number of Gray tweets about Glen Waddle’s PA mic volume in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium being obnoxiously loud OVER 17.5

That would be more than three per home game and, frankly, I could go OVER 23.5. For the love of all that is decent and good, Keith Carter, turn the volume knob back to the left.

I have season tickets and it’s awful at the games. No one is there to hear Glen Waddle!

And when I watch on TV, it’s as loud as the announcers. No games at any other school in the country have that problem. D I A L I T B A C K.

Win total OVER 8.5

I could be a coward and take OVER 7.5, which is probably right on point, or I could cut the brake lines of reason and likely be an idiot. I choose SCARED MONEY DON’T MAKE MONEY.