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This is the fourth installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week was a combined effort with Metz Camfield. Let's get into it:

1. The Ole Miss football team was on a bye week, but the volleyball and soccer teams went a combined 5-1 on the weekend, as both of those teams wrapped up nonconference play.

2. As much fun as it is covering Ole Miss home and away games, and they are, it's also fun to have a Saturday to watch games from 11 a.m. - and thanks to the late-game dramatics between Oregon and Washington State - until late into the night. That game, along with Mississippi State-LSU and Florida State-Clemson were the highlights for me, but it was an overall great day of football.

3. After moving up four spots the previous week, Ole Miss remained No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, one of six SEC West teams ranked in the top 17. Think about that, approximately one of every three teams in the top 17 are from the same division of the SEC. That's insane.

4. Among those six SEC West teams is Mississippi State, which entered the top 25 at No. 14 after its road win over LSU. Its inclusion marks the first time since the final poll of 1999 that both Mississippi schools are ranked in the Associated Press top 25. 

5. Oct. 4 is shaping up to be a potentially huge day in Mississippi with No. 10 Ole Miss hosting No. 3 Alabama and No. 14 Mississippi State hosting No. 6 Texas A&M. Standing in the way are Memphis (at Ole Miss) and Arkansas (vs. Texas A&M in Dallas).

6. When asked what he wanted to get out of the bye week, head coach Hugh Freeze said he wanted to build depth and work on two-minute, third-down and red-zone offense. Those are some areas to watch in the Rebels' matchup with Memphis on Saturday.

7. Speaking of Memphis, the Tigers are 2-1 to start the season for the first time since 2004. That was also the last time Memphis defeated Ole Miss. Don't forget, earlier this season, Memphis put a scare into then-No. 11 UCLA in Los Angeles before falling short 42-35.

8. Much has been said and written about Bo Wallace's start to the 2014 season. Here's a nice story on Wallace from Chase Parham of Rebel Grove/Rivals.com earlier this week. Check it out.

9. Following the program's first College World Series appearance since 1972 and a top-four national finish, Ole Miss baseball head coach Mike Bianco's contract was extended to run through the 2018 season. Well-deserved for the all-time winningest coach in Ole Miss history.

10. The new ball that will be used in college baseball this season, which features lowered seams, is definitely going to make a difference. While it doesn't seem to come off the bat any hotter, it does carry further. In talking with coaches and players after Saturday's scrimmage, there were a few balls hit Friday and Saturday that would have been fly ball outs last year. This will certainly be a topic again as we get closer to the season, but this is a good thing for college baseball.

11. Former Rebels Aaron Barrett (Washington Nationals) and Lance Lynn (St. Louis) have clinched berths in the postseason, with Barrett and the Nationals having already clinched the NL East Division. Tip of the hat to them.

12. Sticking with the theme of former Rebels in the big leagues, how about a shout out to Chris Coghlan of the Chicago Cubs and Drew Pomeranz of the Oakland A's? Coghlan went 4-4 with two home runs and four RBIs Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his second home run, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, proved to be the game-winner. Pomeranz, meanwhile, finished with a strong line against the Philadelphia Phillies in a start, going 5.0 innings, with one hit, zero runs, zero earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.

13. Amory, Mississippi, native Addie Forbus scored in the first minute, and the Ole Miss defense made it stand up, as the Rebels defeated Mississippi State 1-0 to retain possession of the Magnolia Cup. It marked the Rebels' first win in Starkville since 2009. Congrats to Coach Matt Mott and the girls.

14. With a 4-0 weekend, the Ole Miss volleyball team remained undefeated at 14-0, matching last year's win total ahead of the start of SEC play. The Rebels open SEC play with matches at South Carolina and Florida, which will likely serve as a measuring stick for the team after being pushed to five sets just once in the nonconference.

15. The Ole Miss athletics department will be honoring the life and legacy of former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins this weekend. He will be inducted posthumously into the M-Club Hall of Fame and Ole Miss will rename Coliseum Drive "Chucky Mullins Drive." For more on the celebration of Chucky Mullins, click here.

16. In case you missed it, here's Episode 4 of The Season: Ole Miss Football, which includes a touching tribute to the late Stan Sandroni.

Coming off the program's fifth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and a school-record 15 wins this past season, the Ole Miss soccer team returned to the pitch for the first practice of the preseason on Wednesday.

The Rebels open the 2014 season with the first-ever live event broadcast on the SEC Network when they host Georgia on Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT.

"It's good to be back," head coach Matt Mott said. "It's nice to be out here. Our team is really fit. They did a great job on the fitness test. It's the fittest team I have been a part of in my 22 years. They are extremely fit. Our strength coach, Randy Dorvin, has done a great job with them all summer. It's a typical first day. We probably could have been sharper, but the energy and intensity was high.

"Our team did really well," senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick said. "We had high intensity. Our fitness was really good. We were performing like it's the middle of the season and we're ready to play a good opponent."

Ole Miss made history this past season, not only setting a school record for wins, but also hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the first time and winning its second NCAA Tournament game in five trips to the annual event, but the team wants more entering the 2014 season.

"It goes to the character of these guys," Mott said. "They're tight already as a team. They pushed each other all summer and they wanted to come into fall camp fit. All spring and into fall camp, we have said that we're not going to be a one-hit wonder and disappear again. Our goal is to get back into the top 25 and into the top half of the SEC."

Despite losing two of the program's top four all-time goal-scorers, Rafaelle Souza (1st, 44 goals) and Mandy McCalla (4th, 37 goals), Mott called this year's team his deepest yet, with 17 returning players from last year's squad and five newcomers.

"I feel confident about all 22 (players)," Mott said. "They have come here in really good shape and ready to go. I like all 22 of them. They will all compete, and it will make them better every single day."

"Each year, the coaches have recruited better and better," McCormick said. "My freshman year, we weren't the most talented team, but this year, we have depth in our team and we have players who can come off the bench and play right off the bat."

It starts with McCormick, the lone senior on this year's team who has started all three years for the Rebels and is already the all-time wins leader in goal (34). She posted a 16-6-2 record with 10 shutout wins as a junior.

"She has the right mentality," said Mott of McCormick. "She's a winner. She's absolutely a winner. She has the school record already for wins. Technically, she's really, really clean, which is really important for a goalkeeper. She has done a great job with coach Rob Thompson every single year and she has made big strides. She understands what it takes. She's been in those pressure situations."

Among the five talented newcomers is freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt, a high school All-America selection from Huntersville, North Carolina, where she also helped Hough High School to a No. 1 national ranking by ESPN.

"Marnie has come in and she's going to be really good for us," Mott said. "She has a great pedigree. She's learning it right now certainly. Madi Killeen, too. We have three really good goalkeepers, which is an anomaly in women's soccer. I'm comfortable with all three of them. It's a battle right now. Certainly Kelly is the leader because she's been our starter, but she has a battle on her hands with the other two coming in behind her."

On the field, Ole Miss returns all six players (Melissa Capocaccia, Maddie Friedmann, Gretchen Harknett, Jessica Hiskey, Georgia Russell and Samantha Sanders) who drew starts along the back line, with Harknett and Hiskey moving to the midfield. 

The Rebels also return forwards Olivia Harrison, Addie Forbus and Bethany Bunker, who combined for 17 of the team's goals last season.

"If you look at Bethany Bunker, Addie Forbus and Olivia Harrison, all those guys had six or seven goals, which on most teams is a good number of goals," Mott said. "We just scored so many goals last year with Rafa and Mandy, it got skewed. Those three had great seasons with tons of assists, so I feel good about our ability to score. We'll have a scoring punch."

Rebels Bounce Back In 7-0 Win Over Auburn


Coming off a 4-1 loss to No. 7 Florida on Friday night, No. 24 Ole Miss scored two goals in the first five minutes and went on to win 7-0 over Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore Bethany Bunker netted a pair of goals to give her a hat trick for the weekend, and five goals for the season, including the first goal of Sunday's game.


Junior Kelly McCormick made three saves, as Ole Miss recorded its sixth shutout of the season. Offensively, along with Bunker, senior Mandy McCalla added two goals, giving her nine for the season, while sophomore Olivia Harrison, senior Emily Reid and freshman Addie Forbus rounded out the scoring for the Rebels.


"They just moved the ball so great, and really, Bethany and Rafa were great early, getting in and getting around the corner, and putting the ball in dangerous spots," head coach Matt Mott said. "It was a complete team win. We were very good and organized in the back.


"We had tons of energy. This team, they have great character, and they want to get out and play well at home. They weren't happy after Friday, so they came out with something to prove. They knocked in those couple early goals and settled themselves down. I'm certainly happy with their performance."


At 9-2-1 through 12 games, it's the third-best start in program history, its best since 2003, when Ole Miss advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in program history. Next weekend, the Rebels hit the road for two road games against two team currently just outside the top 25 in Tennessee and Georgia.


"We expect tough games," Mott said of next weekend's games. "Every SEC road game is really tough. We will have to come ready to go on Friday against Tennessee."



 

The Ole Miss soccer team won its season opener, 4-0, against Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday night in front of 1,592 fans, the second-highest attendance in program history, at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. 

Freshman Addie Forbus scored in her first career collegiate game to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Jennifer Miller netted a pair of goals, including a penalty kick after sophomore Olivia Harrison was fouled in the penalty area, while senior Mandy McCalla, who tied with fellow Rafaelle Souza as the top scorer in the SEC last season, added the final goal.

Friday night also marked the collegiate debut for redshirt freshman Georgia Russell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason last season. Two other freshmen, Melissa Capocaccia and Gretchen Harknett, started in their collegiate debuts, while fellow freshmen Heather Lacy and Mackenze Parma, like Forbus, came off the bench in their debuts. 

The Rebels return to action at 7 p.m. on Sunday, when they travel to take on the UAB Blazers.

Soccer Scrimmages Under The Lights

 

 The Ole Miss soccer team scrimmaged on Friday night at FNC Park in Oxford. Head coach Matt Mott said he was "overall very, very pleased" with the scrimmage. Among the individual standouts, Mott mentioned seniors Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla, as well as a trio of freshmen in Addie Forbus, Melissa Capocaccia and Gretchen Harknett. The Rebels open the 2013 season on Friday, August 23, at 7 p.m. against Louisiana-Lafayette at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
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