Reason No. 2: The offensive line | Ole Miss Sports

Here’s Reason No. 2 that Ole Miss will be improved in 2011.

If Ole Miss is going to have a winning season and get to a bowl game these guys can’t miss. They have to be as good as advertised, and the advertising was pretty good. Phil Steele ranked the Ole Miss offensive line No. 2 in the nation – behind SEC rival Alabama – in his position unit rankings.

It’s been interesting to watch Bradley Sowell, who just two years ago was drawing criticism for his inability to protect Jevan Snead’s blind side. Sowell was a third-year sophomore at the time. Now he’s a member of the Outland and Lombardi watch lists and was ranked as the 17th- best player in the SEC this week by Athlon Sports.

The Rebels have experience at both tackle slots with Sowell and junior Bobby Massie. They have an intriguing newcomer at right guard in Matt Hall, a transfer from Arkansas, who brings a tackle’s size to the interior, and they return an experienced center in A.J. Hawkins, who earned a spot on the Rimington watch list.

It’s a good starting five, and there’s experience depth behind them in senior Logan Clair and guards Patrick Junen and Jared Duke. There is young, untested talent in Emmanuel McCray.

When injuries come there are options.

With inexperience at QB and receiver and with a stable of running backs, the Rebels’ best chance for sustained success will be a strong running game.

Offensive coordinator David Lee made no bones about it in the spring. He intends to run the football.

For the Rebels to win games the offensive line has to play well.