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Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 19

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It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:

1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday, it will be the third time in four weeks a nationally-televised college football pregame show will air on-site prior to an Ole Miss game. 

If Ole Miss and Auburn continue to win, "College GameDay" producer Lee Fitting said GameDay would likely return to Oxford on Nov. 1, making it four times in five weeks. And if Ole Miss and Mississippi State continue to win? "College GameDay" could visit Oxford an unprecedented three times this season.

2. The SEC West might no longer be undefeated against SEC East teams, but it placed four teams in the top five of the latest AP Poll. Mississippi State and Ole Miss held at Nos. 1 and 3, respectively, while Alabama moved up three spots to No. 4 and Auburn moved up a spot to No. 5.

 It's the first time one league has ever had four of the nation's top five teams in the AP Poll, much less the same division. Ole Miss has already defeated one (23-17 vs. Alabama) and gets the other two at home (Nov. 1 vs. Auburn, Nov. 29 vs. Mississippi State).

3. That being said, I have said it, Metz has said it, and Coach Freeze has said something to the same effect: For fans who are worried about polls and playoff projections, rest assured, if Ole Miss keeps winning, everything will take care of itself.

4. Don't look now, but LSU might have regained its mojo, having won its last two games (30-27 at Florida, 41-3 vs. Kentucky) and returning to the national rankings. Strange things tend to happen in this rivalry, and then you add a role reversal with Ole Miss as the favored team and a night game in Death Valley to the equation, and it should make for an intriguing matchup.

5. Speaking to the media Friday, Marcus Spears compared this year's Ole Miss team to his 2003 LSU team, which finished 13-1 and defeated Oklahoma 21-14 in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS National Championship.

The 2003 LSU team was led by a dominant defense that allowed just 11.0 points per game and forced 33 turnovers, returning seven for touchdowns. Offensively, the Tigers had an efficient quarterback in Matt Mauck and some explosive playmakers in Michael Clayton, Devery Henderson and Skyler Green. 

As you can tell, there are some definite similarities between the two teams.

6. Another mistake-free game from Bo Wallace. Through four SEC games, Wallace has yet to turn the ball over, while throwing seven touchdowns and running in another two. In case you missed it, you want to watch his appearance on the Dan Patrick Show earlier this week, where he poked fun at the "Good Bo, Bad Bo" narrative.

7. Senquez Golson picked off two more passes, giving him seven for the season, which leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. It was his second multi-interception game of the season, and the third of his career. The other? 2012 at LSU. Golson also now has an interception in three straight games.

8. What a difference a year makes on the defensive line. In last year's matchup with LSU, also seven games into the season, Ole Miss was forced to move Bryon Bennett from defensive tackle to defensive end out of necessity because of injuries. A year later, the Rebels are rotating 11-12 guys on the defensive line and redshirting a trio of talented freshmen.

"For most of the guys, we try to rotate them with an even number of reps for some games," defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said. "Robert (Nkemdiche) is going to be in there a little bit more because he's a little bit of a freak at that 3-technique and means so much to us doing that. Most of them get close to the same number of reps."

9. One of those 11-12 guys is freshman Marquis Haynes, the reigning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, who accounted for 2.5 of the Rebels' 7.0 sacks against Tennessee. He has 4.5 sacks over the last two games and 6.5 sacks for the season, 1.5 sacks shy of Jadaveon Clowney's freshman record. 

"Marquis Haynes gets better every week," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I told a lot of people in preseason, if they called me and they asked me who nobody knows about that was going to make a name for themselves, and I would say without hesitation it was going to be Marquis Haynes. He's proving to do that."

10. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but it's impeccable how well players have performed when they're featured in the game day programs. Notably, Senquez Golson sealed the win over Alabama when he was featured in the Alabama game day program. And Saturday against Tennessee, Mike Hilton intercepted a pass when he was featured in the player spotlight. Go back and look.

11. This was the best Square Jam yet. There was what looked to be the biggest crowd in the history of the three-year event and a star-studded panel of judges, and then Stefan Moody and Roderick Lawrence put on a show in the slam dunk contest. Earlier this summer, Moody said he had a 46-inch vertical jump, and he showed it off, as he rocked the rim to take home the title.

12. There's a lot of excitement surrounding the newcomers on the men's side. Three of the newcomers are among Sports Illustrated's projected top 100 transfer scorers: Moody (14th, 11.4 ppg), Terence Smith (34th, 8.9 ppg) and M.J. Rhett (94th, 4.7 ppg). Sports Illustrated also projects Jarvis Summers sixth (averaging 18.8 ppg) in their projection of the nation's top 100 scorers.

13. The Ole Miss volleyball found some answers on the road, winning at Auburn and Alabama this weekend, running its win streak to three matches in the process. Ole Miss returns home to host LSU in a nationally-televised match on the SEC Network.

14. We always plug him, but don't miss out on Josh McCoy's photo gallery from Square Jam. Great action and great backdrop made some great photos.

VIDEO: Studio 18 Live 10.15.14

Behind-The-Scenes Look At Square Jam

The second annual Square Jam will be held on the Oxford Square Friday from 6:30-7:30 p.m., as part of this weekend's Homecoming festivities. The men's and women's basketball teams will participate in variety of drills and skills competitions to unofficially kick off the start of the season.

The event started when Ole Miss decided to do something with Midnight Madness, where they wanted to take basketball where their fans were going to be, so they did that by taking a basketball court to the Square in the parking lot in front of City Hall.


"We were in this external team for men's basketball, and I showed a picture of an outdoor basketball tournament," Hudspeth said. "And we started throwing around the concept of putting a basketball court on the Square. Initially, it was just a thought. The more we talked about it, Brian Russell, one of our event managers, said 'Why not, let's look into it.'"


"And so I threw a couple of lines in the water to see what kind of response we would get, and the responses started becoming more positive, so we pursued it. We found out how much a floor would cost, and if the city would allow us to do it. When the city said they would allow us to do it, that's when it took off full speed. Within a couple of weeks, we had basically planned the entire event and had the floor ordered, and it was ready to roll."


The original plan was for the inaugural event to be held this year, but head men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy, Hudspeth said, really pushed and wanted to do it last year, and so they were able to put it all together in a short amount of time.


"Coach Kennedy, for a long time, really wanted to figure out a way to do some type of opening to basketball season," Hudspeth said. "And he felt like this was the perfect transition with us wrapping it into the Homecoming parade and a home football weekend, so people could start getting a basketball mentality into their brains."


During last year's event, Derrick Millinghaus won the knockout contest while the team of Nick Williams and Gracie Frizzell won the three-point content, and Aaron Jones won the dunk contest. Both teams will participate in all three events again this year, with a game of H-O-R-S-E as a possible addition.


Micah GInn, Director of Creative Services, will serve as the emcee, and Athletics Director Ross Bjork, women's basketball coach Matt Insell and Rebel Rewards member Colleen Haadsma (@chaadsma) will serve as the judges for the dunk contest. 


This year's event will also feature a few more additions to enrich the fan experience, some more noticeable than others.


"This year, we're going to have the Ole Miss logo in the center of the court," Hudspeth said. "That will be a neat addition. This year, we're adding a video board, which we have never done. It will be right next to the court and will face back toward the fans. It is an 11 x 17 foot video board, which is a pretty big size. We're going to have a camera crew out there and be able to show videos and starting lineups."


Among the other improvements are more bleachers on the three sides surrounding the court, better lighting, and added restrooms behind City Hall are among the other improvements for this year's event. Also, particularly in the event of colder weather, both players' benches will be completely heated.


The event itself lasts an hour, and within two hours last year, Hudspeth said, the Square was back open and running. However, it's a full day for him and his staff, which will then turn around to staff Saturday's Homecoming game against Idaho, with a kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.


"We have been working on the planning process for months," he said. "On Friday, we will start probably around 11 a.m., myself and our marketing will go to the Square and set up a command center-type area where we have all the materials that we need for Square Jam, and we hang out all day." 


"It will take us about three to four hours to set everything up and have it ready to roll. The Homecoming parade starts at 5:30, and it's usually over by 6:30. We'll start our event at 6:30, and it should be over by 7:30. At about 7:45, we start taking everything down, and we're usually done by 9. Last year, I remember getting in my car to go home at 9:20. It's a full day."


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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

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    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

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