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SEC Football Preview 2014: Ole Miss' Roster Questions Are Mostly on Offense

The Rebels have all but two of their starters from 2013 returning on the defensive side of the ball. But there are some more losses on offense, and one of them leaves a pretty big hole

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

If you have any question about one of the reasons that Ole Miss has taken a step forward under Hugh Freeze, the Rebels' media guide helpfully points out that over the last two seasons, 18 Ole Miss offensive records have fallen. The offensive revival hasn't been the only thing working in the Rebels' favor, but Freeze's system and the numbers its put up have helped quite a bit.

The interesting thing is that the defense might be even more set this year from a roster perspective than the offense. Only two defensive starters from 2013 won't return to the Rebels this year, and the grand total of lettermen lost on that side of the ball comes to nine. That would seem to indicate that if the offense can at least hold steady and the defense's experience helps it improve, 2014 could represent a sizable step forward for Ole Miss.

One of the top reasons for optimism about the Ole Miss offense this year is Wallace, who enters his senior season after going 283-of-437 for 3,346 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2013. He also ran for 355 yards and six touchdowns on 131 carries. Obviously, the touchdown-to-interception ratio needs to improve; Wallace has to avoid becoming Jevan Snead redux -- but if he does and continues to grow, he could be one of the better quarterbacks in a league that doesn't have a surplus of returning talent this year. It might be a stretch to say that the Rebels will go as far as Wallace takes them, but they won't go far without him.

BIGGEST LOSS | WR Donte Moncrief
Moncrief is off to get fed in the NFL, after catching 156 passes for 2,371 yards and 20 touchdowns over his three seasons in Oxford. Moncrief led the team with 15.9 yards a catch, and his 938 receiving yards ranked fifth in the SEC on a total and per-game basis. The wide receiver would have been a contender for this spot regardless of who else was in the running. But in a year in which many of the 2013 starters are returning -- of the 10 starters Ole Miss loses in 2014, three of them are specialists -- Moncrief is a lock for the player that will likely be missed the most. Wallace will have to find someone else to target for big gains.

Which is where Treadwell might come in. The sophomore was already Wallace's top target in 2013 -- he had 72 grabs -- but averaged just 8.4 yards a reception. Treadwell also didn't break 100 yards in a game; his high-water mark was 82 yards against Vanderbilt, and he fell short of 50 yards in eight of the Rebels' 13 games. Still, he caught at least two passes in each contest, giving him the reliability that some wide receivers lack. And the lack of yardage numbers has a lot to do with the fact that Treadwell was the slot receiver. Ole Miss plans to move him this season, which could give him the ability to produce huge numbers, given that Wallace already appears to be comfortable throwing to him.