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5 Things I Want to See from Ole Miss Football in 2023

Via Ole Miss Athletics

I’m ready for all the college football hype talk to be over and for teams to prove who they are – or aren’t – on the field. Also, I’m ready to put Ole Miss’ 2022 football season behind me.

Ole Miss started the 2022 season by winning their first seven games. However, it was a disappointing finish as Ole Miss lost five of their final six games.

It was also one of the strangest conclusions to an Ole Miss Football season that I can remember in a long time – with practically everyone (even Ole Miss fans) convinced that Lane Kiffin would be the next Head Coach at Auburn.

As we all know, that’s not how things turned out.

Lane Kiffin enters 2023 needing to rebuild trust with Ole Miss fans and show a renewed commitment to the program. He took a step in the right direction by paying top dollar for Pete Golding to be his new Defensive Coordinator.

With spring football over and fall practice just a few short months away, here are my top five expectations for Ole Miss Football in 2023.

1. More Consistent Quarterback Play

Jaxson Dart was not bad last season. He threw for 2,974 yards, completed 62.4% of his passes, and threw 20 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Not great numbers, but not terrible either. When you factor in his rushing for over 600 yards, you have a pretty solid season for a second-year quarterback.

However, it was also painfully obvious last season that Lane Kiffin was just not comfortable letting Dart throw the ball in certain situations. Ole Miss had a fantastic running game in 2022 – but at some point, you have to be able to drop back and make some big throws, and Dart was inconsistent in that department last year.

The word around Ole Miss this spring was that Jaxson Dart would be a tough man to beat out for the starting quarterback spot in 2023 – even with the addition of veteran transfer Spencer Sanders and talented freshman Walker Howard. We will see if Dart has improved as much as people are saying.

2. A Powerful Combination of Running Backs and Tight Ends

Everyone knows about star running back Quinshon Judkins, but not many people know that Ole Miss might have the best 1-2 punch at tight end in the SEC.

Junior transfer Caden Prieskorn had 602 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2022 at Memphis. At 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, he’s an imposing target next to 6-foot-3, 240-pound Michael Trigg.

Both played well in the spring and are exceptional athletes at tight end. Both Trigg and Prieskorn have the potential to play at the next level.

An offense called by Lane Kiffin with one of the best running backs in the country, plus two athletic, big-bodied tight ends, will give opposing defensive coordinators plenty of headaches in 2023.

Look for Kiffin to exploit mismatches produced by the combination of Judkins and the tight ends.

3. Improved Defense

Lane Kiffin hired Pete Golding because the defense has the Achilles heel of his Ole Miss teams. If the 2021 team with Matt Corral had a good defense, Ole Miss probably would have been in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

In Lane Kiffin’s three years in Oxford, he has yet to put a top-50 defense on the field.

  • 2020 – Allowed 38.3 points-per-game (118th of 128).

  • 2021 – Allowed 24.7 points-per-game (51st of 130).

  • 2022 – Allowed 25.5 points-per-game (57th of 131).

By hiring Pete Golding, Kiffin acknowledged that the defense must improve if Ole Miss is going to move beyond a middle-of-the-pack SEC West program.

4. A Renewed Focus with Veteran Leadership

Look, the rumors of Lane Kiffin going to Auburn were absolutely a distraction to last year’s team. How could it not have been? And having a younger team without the veteran leadership of players like Matt Corral and Sam Williams, well…let’s just say it’s not surprising 2022 ended how it did.

But now, those younger players are back with some experience under their belts. Kiffin has added experienced leadership like Spencer Sanders. There’s been a renewed commitment to winning from Lane Kiffin by hiring Pete Golding. I think we will see an Ole Miss team with much better focus because the leaders on the team have developed and grown.

5. Shut Down Mid-Season Rumors Surrounding Lane Kiffin

Watching the daily circus surrounding the Ole Miss Football program was incredibly frustrating as a fan. We couldn’t even focus on the game each week – we were forced to listen to every possible scenario involving Lane Kiffin. I can only imagine the toll it took on the team, coaches, and potential recruits.

And that has to stop.

I understand that Lane Kiffin will always be a “hot name” that everyone throws around for every open coaching position. But Lane Kiffin has to do a better job of shutting down rumors – which he didn’t do that great of a job at the close of 2022. And it probably cost his team a win or two.

When a player or coach’s antics start costing you wins – that’s a problem.

Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin need to stay out in front of rumors in 2023 and focus on winning every game each week. If they do that, I think they can surprise some people.



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