The spring semester is now underway on the College of Mississippi, and with a brand new yr comes new challenges and expectations within the sports activities world.
The identical may be mentioned for the main sports activities at Ole Miss. Over the subsequent few days, The Grove Report will analyze the present state of those groups in Oxford in a sequence of columns entitled “State of the Program.”
Very like the president’s State of the Union deal with, these items are designed to put out the final feeling surrounding a program right here in late January. Yesterday, we analyzed males’s basketball, and right this moment, we dive into soccer.
The 2022 season began effectively for Lane Kiffin’s Rebels, starting with a 7-0 document and rising into the highest 10 nationally. That begin, nonetheless, was adopted by a 1-5 end down the stretch, together with falling flat within the Texas Bowl in opposition to the Texas Tech Purple Raiders.
Because the conclusion of the season, it has been recruiting time for Kiffin and his employees, hitting the switch portal laborious after snagging some key prep signees like in-state star Suntarine Perkins.
One of many extra intriguing tendencies for the Rebels out of the portal has come on the quarterback place. When Luke Altmyer transferred out of Oxford this offseason, it was broadly believed that Kiffin would want to search out his second string quarterback out of the portal when Marcel Reed flipped his dedication to Texas A&M.
That, nonetheless, is simpler mentioned than carried out.
Most gamers who enter the portal accomplish that for a purpose, one in every of which is that they need to see ample enjoying time at their new faculty. Kiffin went out and grabbed former 5 star Walker Howard from LSU, however his subsequent sign caller snag has introduced into query the beginning quarterback place for 2023.
Spencer Sanders from Oklahoma State is planning to spend his remaining yr of eligibility at Ole Miss, and purpose would dictate that he hopes to win the beginning job in a contest in opposition to Dart and Howard. This may increasingly come as a shock to many contemplating that, though he was not elite in 2022, Dart was greater than serviceable, and as a younger quarterback, he was certain to enhance shifting ahead.
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Nonetheless, maybe Kiffin’s concept was, “Why not carry competitors to the quarterbacking room, and whoever wins the job will robotically be higher due to it?” This battle for supremacy will probably be Ole Miss’ second in as a few years this spring, and the way it unfolds will probably decide what the quarterback room appears like within the fall, together with if somebody transfers out.
Shifting gears, Kiffin snagged one other massive get out of the “teaching portal” when he landed new defensive coordinator Pete Golding from the Alabama Crimson Tide. There was a time the place Golding would have been a candidate for the pinnacle teaching place in Oxford, and the truth that he was prepared to leap from Tuscaloosa to hitch the Rebels says loads about what Kiffin is constructing, no less than on the floor.
If Ole Miss hopes to get again into the 10-win dialog subsequent season in a frightening schedule, it’s going to have to be higher defensively. That is why Golding was introduced in, and we’ll see if he can get the job carried out.
All-in-all, it is all the time soccer season within the South, and the identical may be mentioned for Ole Miss. There will probably be loads of storylines to comply with all through the offseason, and one factor is for positive: regardless of the lackluster end to the season, the Ole Miss soccer program is in higher form than it has been in a very long time.
You possibly can comply with John Macon on Twitter at @JMakeGillespie.
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