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February 19, 2009

Snead won't rest on Ole Miss' 2008 success

Neal McCready
Rivals.com College Football
Senior Writer

Oxford, Miss. - By any measure, Jevan Snead's first season as Ole Miss' starting quarterback was wildly successful.

The Stephenville, Texas, native passed for 2,762 yards and 26 touchdowns, leading the Rebels to a 9-4 record and a triumph over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl.

Less than two months after disposing of the Red Raiders to vault Ole Miss into the top 15, Snead isn't resting on his laurels. Instead, he's planning on being much better as a junior.

"I've been there for a season and I have that experience under my belt," Snead said. "I think I'll be a lot more comfortable and hopefully grow.

"There are several things I can do better. ... One is definitely eliminating turnovers and my decision-making, which I think I am definitely going to try to improve this spring. I think it just takes reps and getting to the know the offense. I feel like at the end of the season last year, I got a lot better at that as far as decision-making goes, and I'm hoping to gain on it."

Snead, who played the last few games of the season with a sore shoulder courtesy of a hit he took in the Rebels' win at LSU in November, said the joint is completely healthy now. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder is trying to put on some quality weight in time for the 2009 opener at Memphis.

"I'm back in the weight room, trying to get stronger, of course, but it's good," Snead said. "I've thrown a little bit, not too much. I'm just now trying to get back into the routine and get my shoulder and my whole arm ready for the spring."

Snead, who completed 184 of 327 passes last season, is also sharpening his mind. Offensive coordinator Kent Austin has indicated that the Rebels' offense will be more complicated in Snead's second season than it was last fall.

"I've seen some of the stuff he has and we can definitely get more complex and put some more stuff in," Snead said. "I'm excited to see what it is. I'm not exactly sure what it's going to be, but I've seen a few things and it's very exciting."

That will likely include more checking out of plays and audibles at the line of scrimmage, something he said he "just didn't feel that comfortable doing it, being my first year. That's one of the things, with experience, where you grow in the offense that you're running. Hopefully I'll be doing that by the spring."

With Mike Wallace, Michael Oher, Darryl Harris and Maurice Miller out of eligibility, Snead will also be asked to take a more vocal role in Ole Miss' offensive huddle and in the meeting rooms and locker room. Again, that's a challenge he's looking forward to meeting.

"Last year, being my first year, I was just kind of laying low and not saying too much," he said. "I was just trying to not speak too much but kind of lead by example. This year, I feel more comfortable being more vocal and I feel like I'm more accepted doing that now that I've played a year and now that I'm not an underclassman. I'm not going to say I'm the most vocal guy. I'm not going to just be screaming at everybody or anything like that, but I definitely feel more comfortable now than I did earlier."

Unlike last spring, when the Rebels were coming off an 0-8 performance in the Southeastern Conference, Ole Miss goes into the 2009 season with championship expectations. The Rebels will likely open the campaign ranked in the top 10, a strong candidate to win the SEC West and a fringe preseason factor in the national title race. Speaking of fringe candidacies, Snead's name should be on the periphery of the Heisman Trophy race when the Rebels head to Memphis.

Despite those drastic changes, Snead said very little has changed in the way he or his teammates are preparing for the coming season.

"Coach [Houston Nutt] says the wind blows hard at the top of the mountain," Snead said. "I guess people are starting to look at us more. We're not going to be able to sneak up on anybody. That's for sure. We're ready for that. That's why we're working extra hard in the offseason. That's why we're doing those 5:30 [a.m.] runs. Everybody's getting prepared and we plan to keep doing it.

"I try not to pay too much attention to what people are saying right now. It's the spring. The fall's a pretty good ways away. I'm basically just trying to improve on my game and just dive into the playbook even deeper."

Neal McCready, a senior writer for RebelGrove.com, has more than 12 years of experience covering college and professional sports. An award winning reporter, McCready was twice named Alabama's columnist of the year while working at the Mobile-Press Register. He joined RebelGrove.com in March 2008.
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